Script codes in RFC 3066- hierarchy in software selection

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Apr 10 08:17:50 CEST 2003

Tex Texin scripsit:

> I don't think you can leave it up to the users of tags. Most users (and by
> this I mean software developers) are clueless about the tags, and trust that
> since it's a standard, that it will serve the purpose. Either 1) hierarchies
> work and should be depended on or 2) they don't and tags are atomic, or 3) we
> make very clear the list of cases which are the exceptions and tell people
> specifically how to program around them. 

There are going to be more exceptions than rules, and anyway, it depends
on the nature of the client.  If you are a dumb program doing spelling
checking, the difference between en-us and en-gb is life and death; if
you are a human competent in English, it's trivial.  The difference
between mn-mong and mn-cyrl, OTOH, is substantial enough that even a person
competent in one has to start practically from scratch to read the other.

I think it's a big mistake to erect a complicated tagging system and
expect it to be usable blindly.  Complexities we must have, because the
world of languages is just inherently complicated, but to expect to be
able to draw rigid inferences on the basis of them is not, IMHO, reasonable.

John Cowan               cowan at
To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all.  There
are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language
that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful.
        --_The Hobbit_

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