Encoding scripts in tags: evil or just unpleasant?

Peter_Constable at sil.org Peter_Constable at sil.org
Fri May 23 09:27:13 CEST 2003

John Cowan <cowan at mercury.ccil.org> wrote on 05/23/2003 08:03:38 AM:

> > I wouldn't be able to comment on whether the idea of including script
> > is being abused for inappropriate purposes in any requests until I had
> > chance to review what's been happening.
> In a nutshell: if a language is written predominantly in one script, but
> also in others, should there be a lang-script registration for the
> as well as the occasional scripts?

Without having had a chance to review the arguments that have been
presented, my thinking at the time I wrote the paper to which you referred
is that we do *not* need to register tags like "en-Latn" because "en" could
be assumed to imply "Latn" unless specified otherwise (and, effectively is
already used this way).

I think Peter Edberg suggested that we should document cases in which we
consider a language tag to imply a default script, and I think I'd agree.
This should be done in a stable way: if "en" implies "latn" today, and a
hundred years from now the English-speaking world is suddenly swept by
Hellenistic revival and changes to Greek script, that should not mean that
"en" should immediately imply Greek rather than Latin script.

As I say, that has been my thinking. But your recent discussions here on
Serbian etc. are the first open debate I'm aware of on those ideas, and
perhaps somebody has found serious flaws.

> (There is also a question whether Cyrillic is dominant in this sense for
> Serbian, or whether Latin and Cyrillic are equally significant scripts.)

I don't know the situation well enough to know how dominant either script
is, but perhaps if there's any debate about whether Cyrillic is dominant
enough, maybe that suggests it isn't dominant enough ?? I.e. perhaps we
should only consider a default script to be implied by a language ID if
there is no reasonable doubt that it is appropriate -- if it's completely
obvious ??

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485

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