The role of country codes.

Jon Hanna jon at
Thu May 29 12:08:05 CEST 2003

> > For the record, I understand the points made by John Cowan and others,
> > and now agree that:
> >
> > (a) script should come before country in the hierarchy
> > (b) multi-subtag languages like "zh-hakka" and "en-boont" are
> > inseparable
> Consensus, at least rough consensus, moves one step closer.

This would seem predicated on the assumption that country codes only
identify orthography. I don't believe that this is so, while I have failed
to convince that the primary differences between en-US and en-IE aren't
spelling, I still maintain that however, especially those examples of each
of those dialects that are furthest from "received" en), I can't think of a
single spelling difference between en-IE and en-GB, though my British
colleague queries one of us about some Hibernicism nearly every day. I have
a hard time understanding en-JM despite it generally using Old World
spellings. I had little difficulty understanding the Scottish dialect in
_Trainspotters_ which I hear was released with subtitles in the US.

Vocabulary and syntax often varies strongly with those language-differences
currently identified by reference to the country in which they occur (there
are syntax differences in "stronger" forms of Hiberno-English as well which
borrow from Irish, however while I might respond to an invitation to join a
colleague in a quick pint with "yeah, I've a bit of a thirst on me" it isn't
syntax I would normally use in an email).

I very much doubt that English is the sole exception to this.

In current usage the country codes identify both the orthographic and other
differences, and it works well because they are pretty much where both of
these differences should be with respect to the primary subtag. With the
introduction of script information into language codes the double-duty of
the country codes no longer works well. The obvious priority is to place the
differences in vocabulary and syntax before the script information and the
orthographic differences after, I don't think this translates well to any
suggested encoding.

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