ISO 639 and other language identifiers
Mon, 6 May 2002 20:11:21 -0400 (EDT)
Caoimhin O Donnaile scripsit:
> 2. Not only the "languages", but also the nodes in the language
> family trees need to be registered. This is both to avoid
> the thorny political questions of what is and what isn't a language,
> and for convenience. Someone with a good knowledge of Nedersaksisch
> (Low Saxon) should be able to specify that they are happy
> to accept web-pages in Nedersaksisch without having to specify
> all 13 languages which the Ethnologue currently divides it into.
Doesn't work. There is far less agreement on family trees even than
there is on languages: Indo-European outside Indic is fairly stable,
but most of the language families have no firm agreement on classification.
The Ethnologue's classification is basically a compromise tending to the
> 4. The system should also include extinct and historical languages -
> e.g. "Middle English", "Middle Irish", "Old Irish", "Classical
> Latin", "Mediaeval Latin".
These are only rough classifications with little agreement on what
they mean. Again, you pick the easy cases. Language change, like
languages themselves, is a continuum: we draw dividing lines in
different places for different theoretical purposes.
> 5. A hierarchichal naming system is not possible. Any hierarchy is
> too unstable and subject to change. So the entities need to have
> distinct independent identifiers.
The entities themselves are unstable, being mere theoretical constructs.
John Cowan <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://www.reutershealth.com
I amar prestar aen, han mathon ne nen, http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
han mathon ne chae, a han noston ne 'wilith. --Galadriel, _LOTR:FOTR_