Language Identifier List up for comments

John Cowan jcowan at
Fri Dec 17 18:15:51 CET 2004

Mark Davis scripsit:

> First, best to always use region instead of 'country'. Many of the regions
> are not countries, and some people get miffed about it.

In the RFC 3066 regime, the supranational regions aren't yet available, only
the UNSD countries.  Some of these are not sovereign states, true, but
"country" is the best cover term for them.  "Region" suggests not only
supranational regions, but also infranational ones like states/provinces
or other subdivisions like "the Mid-Atlantic States".

> Language identifiers (tags) as specified by RFC 3066, can have the form
> lang, lang-region, and some other specialized forms, where lang and region
> are subtags using ISO codes. (There is a
> [ proposed
> successor] to RFC 3066 that extends this further.) However the RFC does not
> identify which lang-region identfiers do not distinguish a written form that
> is, for most localization purposes, materially different from that
> distinguished by the corresponding lang identifiers.


> de-LI absolutely has a meaning. de-LI is certainly as different from de-DE
> as de-CH is! 

The Standard German used in Liechtenstein is as different from German Standard
German as Swiss Standard German is, really?

(The connotation of "de" does not include Swiss German nor other _Mundarten_.)

> If you want feedback on the table from those who have not memorized country
> codes, and to make it more comprehensible to people, I suggest you include a
> more descriptive name. Even better would be to have an alternate table or
> column, but that might be more maintanence for you. 


> And given such a list, some items stand out. It is unclear why you should
> have variants for English as in China or Israel, but not English as in
> Russia or Egypt, for example.

I assume China is an error on your part; en-CN is not on the list.  English
is an official language of Israel (so it is in) but not of Russia or Egypt.

John Cowan  jcowan at
"The exception proves the rule."  Dimbulbs think: "Your counterexample proves
my theory."  Latin students think "'Probat' means 'tests': the exception puts
the rule to the proof."  But legal historians know it means "Evidence for an
exception is evidence of the existence of a rule in cases not excepted from."

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