New Last Call: 'Tags for Identifying Languages' to BCP

John Cowan jcowan at
Sun Dec 12 21:54:33 CET 2004

Bruce Lilly scripsit:

> There is in fact an "ietf-languages" list; RFC 3066 and the
> draft under discussion give its submission mailbox as
> "ietf-languages at", which makes finding the real
> list an exercise since IANA's web site makes no mention
> of any mailing lists.  I made an educated guess that I
> might find the list at, and indeed the
> list submission mailbox is "ietf-languages at",

Both addresses seem to work for posting to this list.  Not all
IETF lists have or mailing addresses anyhow;
consider uri at, which is not a W3C mailing list but an IETF one.

> The draft in question apparently seeks to get IANA into the
> business of defining countries (and languages), usurping
> those roles from ISO (as also noted in RFC 1591).

This is doubly incorrect.  To begin with, ISO defines neither countries
nor languages.  UNSD defines country-like objects for its purposes and
assigns them numeric codes, specifying them using English and French
names.  Then ISO assigns alphabetic identifiers to the names.  Languages
are not defined at all; ISO assigns alpha and numeric identifiers to
certain words which it believes to be the names of languages, without
always specifying exactly which language among those so named is meant.
Note the titles of the ISO 3166 and 639 standards.

The proposed registry will merely serve to stabilize the ISO mappings,
making it less likely that they will be gratuitously changed, because
it will not be under the control of an MA with unfettered discretion to
make changes.

On the Semantic Web, it's too hard to prove     John Cowan    jcowan at
you're not a dog.  --Bill de hOra     

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