Ietf-languages Digest, Vol 24, Issue 5

John Cowan jcowan at
Sat Dec 11 04:37:22 CET 2004

Bruce Lilly scripsit:

> It's not clear to me that the proposal will provide protection
> against the whims of politicians.  If the definition of "CS" as
> a country code changes again under the proposed scheme,
> how is one to determine specifically what some archived
> language-tag referred to at some point in time?  I'm not
> particularly concerned about that problem, as I am resigned
> to instability associated with anything specified by politicians
> (and that includes the UN region codes).

The U.N. Statistics Division are only "politicians" in the sense
that IETF WG members are.  They are, in fact, statisticians.
Their track record for stability is considerably longer than the

> But if the proposed new registry's description of "CS" says
> "foo" and the ISO standard code list says "bar", what's
> an implementor supposed to present to a user as *the*
> description associated with "CS"?

The former.  That's the whole point of having a registry.

> One possibility would be two description fields.  

Why two?  There are 6000 languages spoken on Earth, of which
perhaps 600 have a standard written form.  What is supposed to
be privileged about English and French?

> Eliminating bilingual descriptions for the language,
> country (and UN region) codes leaves implementors
> in a quandary.

Only for those implementers to whom English and French, but
no other language, is essential.

> ABNF from the draft:

You're technically right, but your underlying claim (that RFC 3066 tags are
bounded in length) is false, as has been shown, and the "grandfathered"
production is only used to match certain existing registered RFC 3066
tags as they appear in the registry.

"Do I contradict myself?                        John Cowan
Very well then, I contradict myself.            jcowan at
I am large, I contain multitudes.     
        --Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

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