Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at
Fri Nov 21 17:13:46 CET 2003

Hi Han,

Thanks for your comments. Here are my thoughts...

We explicitly didn't say what a year subtag meant. That's because it occurs
to us that there might be many things that a date might ultimately indicate,
not just the date of an official orthographic reform.

The registry can be used for *informative* registration of years, I think.
In other words, you could still register a year subtag. It isn't required in
order to use the subtag, but it is helpful to users to have that
information. By reserving numeric tags for years, though, we provide a clear
mechanism for linguists and scholars to tag information in a
historical/chronological dimension (in the same way that there is a
geographical dimension in the region subtag).

We dealt with BCE dates because it seemed like an obvious gap to fill in.
Besides, it gave me one more good example for the examples section
(grc-700BCE: now you know how to tag the Iliad!).

I'm not sure that ranges make sense. Historically it seems like year-based
subtags have referred to the start of the new regime. So if you have two
year subtags, they presumably fall on boundaries, not in the middle
somewhere, especially since tag matching currently is binary (a subtag
matches or does not match, there is no semantic comparison).

The use of the slash character ("/") is also not permitted under the current
rules for RFC 3066. That doesn't mean that slash couldn't be added, but I'd
rather think of some other mechanism. So far I don't see a reason for

Best Regards,


Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods | Delivering Global Business Visibility
Chair, W3C Internationalization (I18N) Working Group
Chair, W3C-I18N-WG, Web Services Task Force

Internationalization is an architecture.
It is not a feature.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at
> [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at]On Behalf Of
> han.steenwijk at
> Sent: Friday, November 21, 2003 5:33 AM
> To: ietf-languages at
> Subject: Year
> Hi Allison, hi Mark
> The exact meaning of the year tag remains somewhat
> underspecified. As a year tag
> would be used without registration, it is not possible to give
> the needed extra
> information in another place, like in the RFC 3066 registration forms for
> "de-1901" and "de-1996":
> Tag to be registered       : de-1901
> English name of language   : German, traditional orthography
> Tag to be registered       : de-1996
> English name of language   : German, orthography of 1996
> As long as we agree that only orthography reforms are to be
> indicated by the
> year tag, that may be no big problem. But I forsee another
> possible use of this
> tag, namely to indicate specific periods in  the historical
> development of a
> language. For instance, if I wanted to indicate a language
> variant as pre-19th
> century, I could be tempted to use the year tag, like in
> "sl-rozaj-1801". Two
> problems arise:
> 1) one needs to know that this does not refer to an orthography reform;
> 2) one needs to know that the period before 1801 is meant, and
> not the period
> after that date.
> Maybe one could write something  like "sl-rozaj-/1801" for years
> that are meant
> as the finishing point of a period and something like "de-1996/"
> for years that
> are meant as the starting point of a period. (Maybe the forward slash is
> unusable for some technical reason, but that is another point.)
> Elaborating on this scheme, one could write something like
> "sl-rozaj-1801/1900"
> to indicate a 19th century language variant.
> If, however, the year tag is only meant to indicate orthography
> reforms, then
> this should be clearly stated. But the regard for "BCE" dates
> makes me suspect,
> that more than orthography reforms can be identified by it.
> Han
> =================
> Prof. Han Steenwijk
> Universita di Padova
> Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Germaniche e Slave
> Sezione di Slavistica
> Via Beldomandi, 1
> I-35139 Padova
> e-mail: han.steenwijk at
> tel.: (39) 049 8278669
> fax:  (39) 049 8278679
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