Why alpha4 codes? [was: RE: Question on ISO-639:1988]

Debbie Garside debbie at ictmarketing.co.uk
Fri Jun 4 17:16:24 CEST 2004

Quick answers before you go John (and before I go off for a stress free
weekend of lawn mowing etc...)

>Why on earth are alpha4 codes suggested for these extended language codes?

Because Alpha3 capacity is not enough ...

>What sort of uses/grounds/syntax would the standard have to ensure that
>they are not confused with ISO 15924 codes?

The Alpha4 codes used in ISO 15924 will not be used within LS639... there
will be no duplication.  I'll hand over to Lee on the technical aspects...

>Also, there's STILL no information on the user needs for this level of
>granularity in coding languages in IT systems. Is there nothing convincing
>on user needs from all the papers produced by Dalby and Garside for BSI?

We are, in fact, endeavouring to collate our response to this question... it
is forthcoming and I, for one, have been  involved in a community/Wales-wide
project that would make excellent use of this level of granularity... please
be patient with us...

>Mind you, perhaps not. Linguasphere IS a very useful reference work, with
>a lot of useful detail,

I have to agree with you there...

>but that in itself is no reason to make it a BS
>standard or an ISO standard, any more than the Concise Oxford Dictionary
>of English should be a standard endorsed by BSI or ISO.


>Why can't Linguasphere just remain as a very useful reference work? It
>would appear that nobody involved in the standards world is very anxious
>to progress it, and it seems like an unnecessarily uphill struggle to try
>and progress it as such.

If "nobody" is interested in it... why are "we" here discussing the pros and

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: RE: Question on ISO-639:1988
From:    "Debbie Garside" <debbie at ictmarketing.co.uk>
Date:    Wed, June 2, 2004 3:29 pm
To:      "Michael Everson" <everson at evertype.com>
         ietf-languages at iana.org

We are indeed providing alpha4 identifiers for 25,000+ linguistic
identities, catering for a wide variety of overlapping usages. The number
will rise higher.  The figure of 70,000, however, relates to all
variations of language names, NOT identities, and 450,000 relates only to
the number of alpha4 tags possible, NOT necessarily realised or needed.


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no
[mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no]On Behalf Of Michael
Sent: 02 June 2004 12:53
To: ietf-languages at iana.org
Subject: RE: Question on ISO-639:1988

At 11:33 +0100 2004-06-02, Debbie Garside wrote:

Peter Constable said:

>  >There is no question that there is wide need for *broader* coverage
than is provided in ISO 639-1/-2. That can be viewed as more granular
>>coverage than is provided by the collective categories in ISO 639-2, but
without involving finer levels of granularity than are already provided
in ISO 639-1/-2. There is *occasional* need for finer levels of
>>granularity, and the request for sl-nedis is an instance of this. What I
have not at all seen, however, is that there is a widespread need for
coding coverage that is both broad and highly granular.
>Just because you cannot see the need Peter does not mean it is not there
>that we should not continue to build a system that allows for ALL
eventualities... look to the future.  The paper (system) was very well
received by the IT community in Lisbon...

You haven't answered the question.

What "need" for "codes" for 70,000 language entities has been
established. "We might need them someday" is not sufficient grounds for
establishing an ISO standard.
Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  * http://www.evertype.com
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