Language Identifier List Criteria

Tex Texin tex at
Mon Dec 20 22:26:43 CET 2004

Well, I will leave it to others to debate the characterization of the standards
as political, if they choose to.
However, RFC 3066's approach is generative. So de-AT is created by combining
codes from each of ISO 639 and ISO 3166, and neither defines what this means.
In fact RFC 3066 only defines the production and not which of the produced
values are meaningful or what they mean except in the most general terms.
That's why we are having this discussion.

Under RFC 3066 it is possible to create combinations of language and region
that have no useful value.
So this need not be determined politically.

For myself, I am looking for guidance for software and web producers. Which
labels to use when tagging content? When is there a enough of a difference that
bears paying for a translation?

It is not clear to me it should be purely linguistic however.
Politics is perhaps one element of the criteria.

Georg Schweizer wrote:
> > Some languages are spoken in many countries, and the language is not
> > distinctive in each country. I have started to accept suggestions as
> > to which language-region codes do not represent a distinct language
> > variation, and therefore are not recommended as tags, without good
> > reason.
> The criteria should be political rather than linguistic ones, as both
> the ISO 639 language tags and the ISO 3166 country codes are based on
> political agreement. Therefore I would not speak of "distict language
> variations", but of distinct *official standards* (or at least distinct
> conventions). Variations can be found everywhere (even within one
> political region), whereas the same conventions can be followed by
> several countries.

Tex Texin   cell: +1 781 789 1898   mailto:Tex at
Xen Master                
Making e-Business Work Around the World

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list