Counting Heads

Addison Phillips aphillips at
Wed May 28 11:51:23 CEST 2003

>I suppose I should have been clearer.  Of course "1901" is not a script.
>What I meant to say was, since RFC 3066 specifies that two-letter second
>subtags are ISO 3166-1 country codes, the country code (if present)
>should always be the second subtag.  In other words, the precedent (if
>any) set by "de-AT-1901" is not:
>    language-country-script
>but rather:
>    language-country-other_stuff
I find it useful to think of it as "language[*-orthography]" rather than 
"country" or "other_stuff".

If you look at most of the registered tags, not just the year-numbered 
German ones, this distinction actually works. Each subtag in sucession 
from left-to-right is a more specific orthographical distinction. That 
is, 1901 is not a year, it is a minor variation in the orthography of 
de-AT, which itself is a variation of de. The fact that most of the 
orthographic distinctions are country codes should not, I think, obscure 
the fact that they represent spelling, vocabulary, grammatical or other 
linguistic differences, not national boundaries per-se.

When viewed through that telescope, the question is whether the 
insertion of script tags should occur before or after the orthographic 
distinction. I agree generally with Doug and John that script is far 
more important than, say, spelling or dialect in most cases, but I also 
suspect that at least a couple of counter examples can probably be cited 
(zh-hakka has already been cited as possibly one such). Languages are 
too messy for that not to happen!



Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods, Inc.

Internationalization is an architecture. It is not a feature.

[Chair, W3C-I18N-WG, Web Services Task Force]

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