registry vs. extensions...

han.steenwijk at han.steenwijk at
Fri Oct 24 17:16:45 CEST 2003

Hello John,

John Clews < Scripts2 at> scripsit:

> Perhaps it might be useful in a sense for some discussion on any new
> request also to get discussed by ietf-languages at, at the
> same time as by the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee?
> The membership of the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee is not
> exclusively linguists, and the process might benefit from a wider
> discussion, or a parallel discussion.

I think very much so! This way the poor requester gets a chance of following the 
discussion or even add some input. This, in its turn, could speed up the process 
of request handling.

> The ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee has been on similar ground about
> languages/dialects: there are varied responses as to whether
> Valencian is (merely) a dialect of Catalan, whether it should be
> regarded as a separate language. Currently there is not a code for
> that, though there are no requests for (sub-)dialects of Valencian.

"Language" and "dialect" are to a great extent socially motivated notions. Maybe 
ISO 639 should stress the point that they encode language names, where language 
means "any linguistic variety that is put to use in various spheres (colloquial, 
official, ceremonial) and boasts a body of written documentation produced by 
native speakers".

The official status of the language/linguistic variety does not seem to have 
been a decisive point for ISO 639-1/-2. They have both Limburgan (li/lim) and 
Neapolitan (nap). The former was recently (1997) recognised as a separate 
language in the Netherlands, but not in bordering Belgium, while the latter 
enjoys no official status in South-Western Italy as far as I know.


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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