Language Identifier List Comments, updated

Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at
Tue Dec 28 18:51:42 CET 2004

We appear to be disappearing down a rabbit hole here. There don't appear to be any substantive comments in this thread, but I am trying to figure out what Jefsey's problem is (I suspect that it is intractable). See interlinear comments below.


Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture

Chair, W3C Internationalization Working Group

Internationalization is an architecture. 
It is not a feature.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at 
> [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at]On Behalf Of JFC 
> (Jefsey) Morfin
> Sent: 2004年12月27日 18:07
> To: John Cowan
> Cc: ietf-languages at
> Subject: Re: Language Identifier List Comments, updated
> At 19:35 27/12/2004, John Cowan wrote:
> >JFC (Jefsey) Morfin scripsit:
> > > Please reread what you just wrote. "there is no reason to qualify 
> > [Catalan]
> > > with a region subtag": only an acknowledged Catalan language 
> authority can
> > > say that. etc.
> >
> >That's equivalent to the statement that only an acknowledged 
> English language
> >authority can say that English comes in national orthographic 
> variants, which
> >is absurd for two reasons:  (a) anyone can see that this is so 
> by inspecting
> >various English-language texts,
> anyone ? "shaping te world" is not enforced yet.

draft-langtags, as RFC 3066 before it, is not shaping the world. It merely defines a standardized way for users--anyone at all--to describe or request their content language. It doesn't closely define what a specific language is or usurp authority from anyone.

> >and (b) there is no acknowledged English language authority, never has 
> >been, and almost certainly never will be.
> So, do not make the IANA one.
> But there is one in Internet terms. This is the .UK ccTLD Manager 
> for en-UK 
> and the USNIC for en-US.

IANA isn't one in this case. RFC 3066/3066bis doesn't define the combinations, only the rules for making them. What users (including IANA itself, in the case of the ccTLD thing) do with it is not necessarily our concern here. And the inference of "meaning" to a language tag is left deliberately up to the end user.

> > > You are in the process of defining the language of the
> > > countries. What IETF can only do is to say "if there is a 
> need to qualify
> > > Catalan this is the way to do it".
> >
> >That is what the RFC says.  Tex's list is an attempt to explain 
> in practical
> >terms and without normative authority whether or not Catalan 
> really needs to
> >be qualified by country.
> We agree. My maping is however different from Tex's and this should be of 
> interest for no one in the IETF.

Your mapping is definetely of no interest to anyone in the IETF. Cattiness aside, Tex's list of tags (which are NOT part of draft-langtags or RFC 3066, I again note) is just one user's interpretation of which tags are interesting. They have no effect whatsoever on which tags are legal to form under the draft nor do they restrict the meaning of anything. They are, for better or worse, Tex's list of tags: a personal list that others may (or may not) find interesting or useful.
> > > The IDNA use the BCP47 (ie. RFC 3066 which is discussed here) 
> to define 
> > the
> > > IDN language table.
> >
> >But IDNA is not the only customer for RFC 3066, far from it.
> I agree. But IDNA is subject to IANA procedures Phillips-08.txt 
> will affect.

So? So what? IDNA is not adversely affected. Your claims of incompatibility are clearly false: the registration form you point to merely asks for a Language Tag and then a textual description of the language. draft-langtags language tags are compatible with the RFC 3066 ABNF and will work just fine in this context.

> > > Please review:
> > >
> > >
> > > Phillips-08 draft ABNF is similar but conflicts with the ubmission 
> > template
> > > of this IANA procedure which is not in ABNF:
> > >
> >
> >It is not reasonable to expect an IANA procedure to refer to a
> >revision of an RFC that is still in I-D state.  I expect that the
> >referent of BCP 47 will be updated in due course after the new draft
> >is published as an RFC.
> The draft only extend the ABNF. There is there a IANA discrepancy to 
> address by Pillips-08.txt.

The draft-langtags ABNF tightens, rather than loosens, the restrictions on what strings form a valid language tag. No existing RFC 3066 language tags are invalidated by draft-langtags and none of the tags defined by draft-langtags would be invalid under the ABNF of RFC 3066 (or the text, for that matter). draft-langtags does not address what applications do with language tags. If the IDNA registry chooses to do odd things with language tags, then your complaint is with them.
> > > You seem to say that language
> > > tags which are meaningless to you are irrelevant, while I say 
> this is not
> > > our cup of tea and we are not to care if a language tag is 
> absurd, except
> > > to document an escape procedure if the user finds it absurd 
> for _him_. I
> > > submit that we only have to provide an ABNF (what the draft 
> does) and that
> > > escape procedure (it does not document).
> >
> >The current I-D does exactly what you want.
> As I say: yes for ABNF. No for an escape procedure.

What "escape procedure"? Escape from *what*? What is it you think needs escaping in a language tag? You need to explain your problem here, because I don't understand it. Your ruminations about other ways to form language tags are interesting, but incompatible with the existing RFC and applications derived from it. This violates one of the basic criteria used to create draft-langtags.

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