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

Sam Hartman hartmans-ietf at
Sun Dec 12 20:49:27 CET 2004

>>>>> "Bruce" == Bruce Lilly <blilly at> writes:

    >> Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 12:14:42 -0800 From: "Randy Presuhn"
    >> <randy_presuhn at> Subject: Re: Ietf-languages
    >> Digest, Vol 24, Issue 5 To: <ietf-languages at>,
    >> <ietf at> Message-ID:
    >> <002f01c4dfbe$0d218f60$7f1afea9 at oemcomputer>
    >> Hi -
    >> > From: "Bruce Lilly" <blilly at> > To:
    >> <ietf-languages at> > Cc: <ietf at> > Sent:
    >> Friday, December 10, 2004 4:54 PM > Subject: Re: Ietf-languages
    >> Digest, Vol 24, Issue 5 ...  > Eliminating bilingual
    >> descriptions for the language, > country (and UN region) codes
    >> leaves implementors > in a quandary.  ...
    >> Huh?  These are language TAGS.  If, for some reason, some
    >> implementor thought it made sense to display one of these in a
    >> localized form (rather than just using them to determine what
    >> locale, etc. should be used in rendering some text) there's no
    >> requirement that the English-language country names that appear
    >> in the registration be used.

    Bruce> That's not the point. The point is that under RFC 3066, the
    Bruce> bilingual ISO language and country code lists are
    Bruce> considered definitive. An implementor can (and has)
    Bruce> therefore use those lists for (e.g.) providing users with
    Bruce> menus (in either language) from which a language or country
    Bruce> code may be selected.  By declaring the ISO lists no longer
    Bruce> definitive, and by providing only English descriptions of
    Bruce> the codes in the proposed revised registry which would be
    Bruce> used instead of the ISO lists, the draft proposal deprives
    Bruce> implementors of being able to provide that functionality
    Bruce> (viz. an official description in French of codes).

Programming lore has the rule of zero, one or infinity; it goes by
many other names but the concept is in part that by the time you need
more than one of something, you'll probably need a lot of that thing.

Language descriptions seem to fit this rule fairly well.  By the time
we need to support multilingual language descriptions, we'll need more
than just English and French.

That means implementers today already have to deal with the fact that
they only have some of the language descriptions they need from
definitive standards.  They will already have to get descriptions for
other languages.

Since they are already using non-definitive language descriptions,
implementers can feel free to take the French descriptions from the
ISO standard for the many cases where the IANA registry and ISO
standard overlap.

Why is two definitive languages better than one definitive language
and one set of descriptions from an ISO standard?


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