Encoding scripts in tags: evil or just unpleasant?

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Fri May 23 08:16:26 CEST 2003

Michael Everson scripsit:

> >Well, I started out in your position and have now moved to approving of
> >Peter's productive langage-script-country model (where "country" is a
> >proxy for spelling system, basically).
> Edberg I suppose you mean. With what detail? Exactly as he presented 
> it? He presented options. Do we have consensus on which ones? That 
> would be guidance to the reviewer.

Sorry for (obviously) worse confusing the issue; I was referring to Peter
_Constable_'s model as expressed in "Language identification and IT"
at http://www.sil.org/silewp/2000/001/SILEWP2000-001.pdf

> >I think the problem is now well enough understood since the publication
> >of Peter's papers that we can move past the minimalist position of 
> >1766/3066
> >to something more detailed.
> Please turn it into guidelines.

Here's my best shot:

1) If a language not yet in ISO 639 is requested, register it using an
   ISO 639 tag qualified by an Ethnologue tag.

2) If a language is written in multiple scripts, register each script
   using the tag for the language qualified by an ISO 15924 tag for
   the script.  Evidence should be demanded showing that the language
   is indeed written in that script.

3) If a language has multiple spelling systems de jure or de facto
   by country or subdivision thereof, register each spelling system
   using the tag for the language qualified by an ISO 3166-1
   tag for the country, subqualified if necessary by an ISO 3166-2
   tag or ad hoc tag for the subdivision.  Except in the case of
   an ISO 639 language qualified by a country, evidence should be demanded
   that there is indeed a national spelling system for that language in
   that country.  ("Spelling" should be construed broadly.)

4) If a language is written in multiple scripts *and* has multiple
   spelling systems etc. etc., register each spelling system in use for
   each script using the tag for the script of the language qualified
   by an ISO 3166-1 etc. etc.  Evidence should be demanded etc.

5) Sign languages are an exception to this, and should be registered
   using the ISO 639 tag SGN qualified by a country and possible
   subdivision, as at present.

6) Requests for registration of anything else must be processed ad hoc
   and according to the judgement and taste of the reviewer.  This
   includes dialect registrations, spelling systems valid only within
   certain dates, and so on.

I suggest you call for help,                    John Cowan
or learn the difficult art of mud-breathing.    jcowan at reutershealth.com
        --Great-Souled Sam                      http://www.ccil.org/~cowan

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