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

Peter Constable petercon at
Mon Dec 13 05:13:00 CET 2004

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Bruce Lilly

> > What is silly is saying that every language tag has to have a
> > attribute associated with it so that computer software managing that
> text
> > knows the language of that text.
> In the specific cases of the core Internet protocols that
> I have mentioned, there *is* a date/time attribute in the
> form of an RFC [2]822 Date field.  If we're talking about
> some file stored on some machine, every OS that I know of
> has a date/time stamp associated with that file.  If you
> have something else in mind, a concrete description and/
> or example might help.

That is not sufficient for many other implementations of RFC 3066. For
instance, an XML document may well be stored in a file system that has
date/time stamps associated with the file; it might also be stored in a
content manangement system that does not report creation dates when
returning content. And elements from within that XML document may be
returned as the result of an X-Path query or a call into a DOM API, and
those surely cannot be assumed to have creation date/time stamps, though
one certain must assume that they can have RFC 3066 tags as xml:lang

> I'm not "eager to abolish" "uniqueness".  There never was
> any guarantee that codes would never change. Both RFCs
> 1766 and 3066 specifically mention changes as a fact of
> life.

Some of us consider that fact and the instability particularly of ISO
3166 to be a serious problem. That (not accessibility) was one of the
key reasons for this revision.

> > > SO where are the French definitions?
> >
> > Ask a person who is bilingual in English and French to provide one.
> That would lack definitiveness which characterizes the
> ISO lists.

You started out this thread by talking about display names, not
definitions; hence Mark's suggestion. Now you have switched to talking
about definitions. The draft clearly indicates where one finds the

"   o  All 2-character language subtags were defined in the IANA
      according to the assignments found in the standard ISO 639..."

I.e. the definition is provided in the registry on the basis of what is
defined in ISO 639; hence if what is indicated in the registry is for
any reason insufficient for your purposes, you consult the definitive
source, the ISO standard.

Peter Constable
Microsoft Corporation

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