New Last Call: 'Tags for Identifying Languages' to BCP
jcowan at reutershealth.com
Mon Dec 13 15:11:17 CET 2004
Peter Constable scripsit:
> The ISO 3166 MA maintains that standard in accordance with the
> identifiers specified by the UN Statistics Division; a change by the UN
> is all the convincing that is required.
Umm, not quite. The UNSD defines what a "country" is, and assigns it
a 3-digit code (normative) and a name (informative); the ISO 3166 MA
then specifies 2-letter and 3-letter codes for that name.
> This scenario is not hypothetical; it actually occurred in the case of
> CS. The change was solely under the control of the UN Statistics
> Division; it is not part of their process to consult with developers and
> users of IT systems in general, and they were not consulted in this
> case. They were completely powerless to influence the change, learning
> about it only after the fact.
UNSD had nothing to do with this. It assigned the hitherto-unused code
891 for the country now called "Serbia and Montenegro". (Yugoslavia
had the code 890, Czechoslovakia the code 200). This was a reasonable
judgment in the circumstances: the question of when a country has changed
into another country is always fuzzy. It was the ISO 3166 MA and no
one else who chose to assign the 2-letter code "CS" to the new country.
UNSD historically has assigned new numerical codes when new "countries"
come into existence, and has managed to avoid reusing any of its 3-digit
identifiers, which is precisely why those identifiers are being used as
trusted backups in RFC 3066bis for the unstable ISO 3166 identifiers.
> This is a situation we do not intend to repeat.
Agreed, but let's make sure not to blame the innocent.
> It is not uncommon for users to confuse "JA" and "JP".
I've done it myself, and in implementation, not merely in discussion.
Fortunately, the evidence is now buried.
John Cowan www.reutershealth.com www.ccil.org/~cowan jcowan at reutershealth.com
Arise, you prisoners of Windows / Arise, you slaves of Redmond, Wash,
The day and hour soon are coming / When all the IT folks say "Gosh!"
It isn't from a clever lawsuit / That Windowsland will finally fall,
But thousands writing open source code / Like mice who nibble through a wall.
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