Registration of argots.

Jon Hanna jon at
Mon Jan 6 12:28:03 CET 2003

This discussion is getting a bit more heated than I intended. The question
was asked more out of idle musing than anything else. I'm musing because
this is were my interest in languages and my interest in cryptography
coincides. It's worth pointing out I'm an expert in neither.

The one case where I can see it being an issue is where the degree to which
a something is argued by some to be a language or dialect, and by others to
be a cant. Being Irish, and not very well-travelled, the only example I can
think of is Shelta. It is often referred to as "the Cant", but that may be
more because it serves the same purposes of privacy as a thief's cant than
any other reason (making it no more a cant than Choctaw in WWI or Navajo in
WWII). Shelta has a solution from an RFC3066 perspective though, since it's
about the only language for which it could be argued that "cel" is the ISO
639-2 code, and no other code is more precise. However I could see a good
case for a clearer code registration here, if the necessary references could
be obtained.

Polari has been called a dialect, or at least it has been argued that it is
rich enough that it could serve as a dialect. I disagree, but it's
historical importance makes it significant ironically in allowing
comparisons to languages like Shelta (whether that justifies a code or not
is another thing, I would say probably not).

As to cockney the question is a matter of where one draws the line. The
slang is part of, but not all of, the dialect. At some point "scarper"
stopped being slang and became a dialect word. But I wouldn't see any point
in encoding one as separate from the other.

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