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

Mark Crispin mrc at CAC.Washington.EDU
Mon Dec 13 10:37:04 CET 2004

On Sun, 12 Dec 2004, Bruce Lilly wrote:
> 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.

When I retrieve a file via FTP, HTTP, etc. the time stamp of that file on 
my computer is the date/time of retrieval, not the date/time of the file 
on the source.

Unless, of course, both systems are running TOPS-20 and thus use that 
wonderful XTP mode that copies file metadata.  Now, if you want to mandate 
that all UNIX and Windows systems be replaced with TOPS-20, I might 
support that... :-)

Silliness aside, the file may well have embedded language tags in the text 
of the file.  Have you forgotten Plane 14?

> 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.

That's what's now being fixed.

> French is an official language used by the ISO in its
> publications.

Why is this vestige of colonialism important in the IETF context?

>>> 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.

What magic attribute is there to French that provides "definitiveness" 
that is absent in English, or Mandarin, or Hindi, all of which are far 
more significant languages to the world?

>> Why is it a problem?  Why is it a defect?
> Because it unnecessarily reduces by 50% the information
> content currently available.

A mandatory French translation to an English definition does not 
significantly increase the information content, and certainly does not 
double it.

The only increase in the information content would be to those individuals 
who comprehend French but not English.  This is a very small number of 

If there is to be a mandatory translation into a second language to 
increase information content, then that language should be Mandarin. 
Among individuals who do not comprehend English, far more comprehend 
Mandarin than comprehend French.

If there is to be a mandatory translation into a third language, that 
would probably be Hindi.

> You have not explained how the code came to be "embedded
> within the text itself" -- surely the author didn't say
> (or write, or sign) "this text is in language QZ"; most
> likely the language was indicated by name, or by some proxy
> representing the name (such as a locale).

Plane 14.

HTML and other markups.

-- Mark --
Science does not emerge from voting, party politics, or public debate.
Si vis pacem, para bellum.

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