Default values (was Re: Reordering of items... [was RE: LANGUAGE TAG REGISTRATION FORM]

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Thu Apr 10 18:15:54 CEST 2003

"A shprakh iz a diyalekt mit an armey un a flot" - Max Weinreich (poss.
Joshua Fishman), 1945. If one were to make a choice in a product, then one
would chose the economically more important case, which is simplified.
Similarly, American English tends to be used as a default instead of British

However, it is important to point out that there are two *very* different
uses of language tags, matching and accessing. For matching you typically
want an "unmarked" case, thus Hani matching any Han text, whether Hant or
Hans (or some other as-yet-undistinguished variant). Similarly, "en" exists,
and in matching, would match any of en-US, en-Ca, etc. For this first case,
matching, there is no notion of "default".

For accessing, it is another matter. If I ask for text in "en", I'm going to
get one particular variant, because there is no alternative. That is the
place where you end up having a default value. Presumably, if you really
care what you get, you will ask a more detailed question, such as for text
in "en-US".

(مرقص بن داود)
mark.davis at
IBM, MS 50-2/B11, 5600 Cottle Rd, SJ CA 95193
(408) 256-3148
fax: (408) 256-0799

----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Everson" <everson at>
To: <ietf-languages at>
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2003 15:34
Subject: Re: Reordering of items... [was RE: LANGUAGE TAG REGISTRATION FORM]

> If there are 5000 years of Traditional Chinese, and less than 100 of
> Simplified, why isn't Hani the default and Hans to be applied where
> necessary?
> --
> Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *
> _______________________________________________
> Ietf-languages mailing list
> Ietf-languages at

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