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

Mark Crispin MRC at CAC.Washington.EDU
Sun Dec 19 19:53:35 CET 2004

On Sat, 18 Dec 2004, Brian Rosen wrote:
> I don't have any comment on the issue of language tags, but speaking as a
> reasonably avid ABNF hacker, I agree with Sam, and would not want to
> establish a convention that ABNF in IETF RFCs is expected to be precise.

The counter-argument is the all-too-frequent occurance when you deal with 
willful cretins who will *insist* that the specification says 
such-and-such when it really says the opposite, and will leap upon the 
most bizarre interpretation of text in order to bolster their arguments.

This is unavoidable; however, it helps a lot if the ABNF firmly comes down 
on the side of the good guys.

I've spent entirely too much of my life in the past few years fending off 
cretins, to agree knowingly to anything that makes me more vulnerable to 
them in the future.

Nor do "gentlemen's agreements" work any more.  We may all be (ladies and) 
gentlemen here, but "out there" there are individuals who are not.

As painful as the process may be, I believe that the ABNF should be as 
tight as possible, preferably by ABNF rules but at least through ABNF 

However, be careful about comments.  I had one cretin insist that "between 
n and m inclusive" (where n and m were integers) had an implied 
restriction that n <= m, and that when n > m it meant an empty set of 

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

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list