sl-rozaj: language-dialect-subdialect strings

Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at
Mon Oct 20 13:42:57 CEST 2003

I have two comments to make here.

First, I think it might be worthwhile for there to be a policy of not
registering new language (or region) based tags until the relevent "base"
standard (ISO639 or ISO3166) has rejected a request for registration. In
this case sl-rozaj might be better off as an ISO639 code. Since ISO639 in
particular hasn't drawn a firm line between langauges and dialects, it might
be better to adopt that as a solution and avoid future problems with
deprecating codes (we have a bevy of them as it is).

Secondly, the long list of dialect and subdialect tags that Han has asked
for is scaring me a bit. I think we all recognize that rfc3066 offers an
approximation or abstraction of "languages", not a complete representation
of languages and I won't rehash the discussion of how to deal with minority
languages etc. here. Han's desire to create a complete set of tags with a
full taxonomy is completely understandable, but creates potential future
dilemmas regarding registration.

I think it might be time to consider an alternative. Specifically, rfc3066
needs an extension mechanism that *doesn't* use registration. Sort of a
"private use area" for language tags. This would allow for the Ethnologue
codes or other identifiers to be used in a situation in which the basic tags
are not suitable or comprehensive enough to cover the needs of a particular
user community.

There would still be a need for registration of certain classes of tags. But
the needs for such tags would be reduced to general cases of wide
distribution. Consider the difference between the following:

  sl-rozaj at bisk-1994

In the first case you have a tag that is registered, non-generative, and
which everyone must implement.

In the second case you have a tag that contains a registered portion and a
private portion. Only the publically registered part must be dealt with by
most implementations.

Best Regards,


Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods | Delivering Global Business Visibility
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: lundi 20 octobre 2003 02:35
> To: ietf-languages at
> Subject: Re: sl-rozaj: language-dialect-subdialect strings
> John Clews <scripts2 at> scripsit:
> > Let's also remember the possible move towards having Resian as a
> > language in ISO 639-3, also discussed by the group.
> >
> > In terms of the overall format, if that enables a simple tag like
> > "res" rather than
> > "sl-rozaj" it will also make for much simpler subtags like
> > "res-bisk..." rather than the more cumbersome
> > "sl-rozaj-bisk..."
> >
> > [res hasn't been checked by me as to whether or not it's an
> > Ethnologue code already, and I am assuming that "bisk..." will be
> > used rather than "bisk" (i.e. avoiding 4-letter subtags)]
> Do you mean that it is better to wait with any further requests
> for subtags
> after the decision to add Resian to ISO 639-3 has been taken? If
> so, is there
> any indication how long the process may take, assuming Resian
> will be included
> in the Ethnologue list?
> "RES" is already being used by Ethnologue.
> Best wishes,
> 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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