RFC3066bis: looking ahead

Mark Davis mark.davis at jtcsv.com
Tue Jan 20 21:03:48 CET 2004

We left open the use of 3-letter country tags, for a few reasons, mostly to do
with stability:

a) when ISO inevitably screws up and redefines the meaning of a two letter code,
since we can't trust them at all not to do this (see

b) if on the other hand, ISO gets its act together and provides for stability,
but then exhausts the 626 possible two letter codes. (E.g. if they started
having ueber-region codes, or wanted more mnemonic codes than were available
with the remaining 2 letters, or all the provinces and subregions in the EU
countries started seceding and becoming independent countries within the EU,

Our alternative is to only use registered subtags for the region in those cases,
but I'd like to be sure that it would be worth doing.

► शिष्यादिच्छेत्पराजयम् ◄

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <jcowan at reutershealth.com>
To: "Mark Davis" <mark.davis at jtcsv.com>
Cc: "Peter Constable" <petercon at microsoft.com>; <ietf-languages at alvestrand.no>
Sent: Tue, 2004 Jan 20 10:12
Subject: Re: RFC3066bis: looking ahead

> Mark Davis scripsit:
> > Currently, we can tell script from region by length. But if you toss in two
> > for language, where the second can be of length 2 or 3, then you can't tell
> >
> > lang-sublang
> > from
> > lang-region
> This could be resolved by not allowing the 3-letter ISO 3166 country subtags,
> and using 2-letter+digit subtags to resolve ambiguities in the 2-letter
> In that way, a 3-letter subtag is always a language subtag, even if preceded
> another language subtag.  The number of existing language subtags is known
> to be grossly less than the number of languages, but not so for the country
> subtags, and countries are not proliferating like mad.
> -- 
> They do not preach                              John Cowan
>   that their God will rouse them                jcowan at reutershealth.com
>     A little before the nuts work loose.        http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
> They do not teach                               http://www.reutershealth.com
>   that His Pity allows them                         --Rudyard Kipling,
>     to drop their job when they damn-well choose.   "The Sons of Martha"

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