registry vs. extensions...

John Cowan cowan at
Mon Oct 20 18:28:29 CEST 2003

Addison Phillips [wM] scripsit:

> My point is that registering tags that then become part of ISO639 is kludgey
> and confusing. 

Well, there is the 50-document rule, though electronic documents do count.
The documents have to be in the hands of at most five archivists, not
just scattered about.

In addition, ISO will not register dialects at all, although as we
know the line between "language" and "dialect" is frequently vague.
(If a language is a dialect with an army and a navy, does that mean
that Afrikaans is now a dialect of Xhosa?)

> So why not strive to get things right? If we had a duck test to
> figure out whether ISO were inclined (or not) to register a particular value
> we could save a lot of top-level registrations that quickly become outmoded.

Unfortunately, ISO's process is not transparent.  Furthermore, ISO 639
codes are for language _names_, not languages; there is no authoritative
source for what is meant by a particular language name.

> If I read it correctly, a search for "x-de-DE-mySubtag" does NOT find
> "de-DE". "de-DE at mySubtag" would find such a match. It would be a way of
> extending the generative mechanism for use with items that do not rise to
> the level of general usage. 

Ah, I see.  You are right about x-de-DE-mySubtag, but wrong about
de-DE at mysubtag, which is a) a syntax error, and b) matches only de,
since @ is not a delimiter.

I think this is a genuine problem that could be fixed by allowing the
x subtag at arbitrary points:  then de-DE-x-mySubtag would match
de-DE in practice and would be acceptable in principle.

John Cowan  jcowan at
"If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing
on my shoulders."
        --Hal Abelson

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