comments on the draft...

Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at
Tue Jun 8 17:19:19 CEST 2004

Dear Peter,

We are open to rewording and revising: we just haven't had the time to confer and consider specific responses just yet on these comments. What follows are my comments.

Regarding the comments on tag- vs. subtag-registries, I agree that we should develop (as a community and perhaps in the draft) some understanding of what tags or subtags mean semantically and whether parallel semantics are permissable... although I do note again that there currently are neither a large number of examples registered or proposed--even if you consider the existing IANA registry without regard for grandfathering. Although Mark and I have gone out of our way to "future-proof" the current draft, we should pause and note that there is a suggestion that this won't be an actual problem, merely a possible one. The continued existence of the registration process will prevent, one hopes, unrestrained registration of subtags and set policies based on consensus.

Or we could just codify stuff in the draft.

As the editor of the draft, my main problem isn't with the theoretical but with the practical: what text would you suggest would be appropriate? That will help Mark and I immensely, even if ultimately we feel that we shouldn't change the draft---it'll help us respond in a measured way.

Finally, I also notice that subtag selection, if actually enabled in software, is still governed by (presumably) human tag choices. RFC 3066 and its predecessor have both relied on users making sensible choices and ignoring non-sensical ones. Our draft takes this wholly sensible notion and applies it to all parts of the tag in equal measure. At the same time, it greatly restricts the structure of tags in the future to help our poor dumb computers parse the things reliably and extract meaning from tags in an automagic way.

Best Regards,


Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods | Delivering Global Business Visibility
Chair, W3C Internationalization (I18N) Working Group
Chair, W3C-I18N-WG, Web Services Task Force

Internationalization is an architecture. 
It is not a feature.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Constable [mailto:petercon at]
> Sent: 2004年6月7日 17:43
> To: aphillips at
> Cc: ietf-languages at; mark.davis at
> Subject: RE: comments on the draft...
> > From: Addison Phillips [wM] [mailto:aphillips at]
> > Sent: Monday, June 07, 2004 5:06 PM
> > I believe that registered subtags may be "validly" used in any
> context. Under the
> > current scheme we don't always necessarily get all the potentially
> useful tags ("de-
> > 1904-NA", anyone?). 3066bis makes this problem a lot harder by adding
> new
> > dimensions to the tags.
> > 
> > However, you appear to be saying that the generativity isn't your
> problem, but rather
> > the "normativity" of the registration information.
> I'm concerned with the semantics. For instance, what do we say "1904"
> means? Somewhere, we need to say, "the German spelling conventions
> established in 1904". True, I was thinking that requires us to define
> the valid scope as being something like de-*-1904. If we choose to allow
> the registered subtag to be used in any situation, then we can get
> "az-Arab-1904" which would mean "Azeri in Arabic script using the German
> spelling conventions of 1904." That is rather worse than "fr-MN", I
> think, in that there's no self-contradiction in talking about French
> spoken in Mongolia, while there is in talking about writing Arabic
> characters using Latin-based spelling conventions. In practical terms,
> though, these are equally unuseful, and so as you suggest, we simply
> need to "tag content wisely".
> The bigger problem that might arise would be a case of the same subtag
> being used with distinct (but parallel) semantics -- e.g. if there were
> German spelling conventions established in 1904, but also Azeri
> conventions established in 1904. And so presumably we'd need to specify
> somewhere that de-*-1904 means one thing, while az-*-1904 means another.
> But perhaps we can deal with it readily enough using subtag
> registration.
> Just so long as its clear to people what is sensible to combine (so we
> know what it means to "tag content wisely"), and so that it's clear to
> people what the interpretation of a given combination should be.
> > > I still find this unclear...
> > We meant the first one (see the examples section at the end). But I
> note that you can
> > use any of them, although the semantics differ
> Would you agree it might be helpful to reword to make this clearer?
> > > This makes clear what is the interpretation of the subtag...
> > I believe this text was in RFC 1766, let alone RFC 3066. Mark and I
> have avoided
> > changing text that wasn't explicitly necessary to change.
> Are you open to revising? If so, does my suggested wording seem helpful?
> Peter
> Peter Constable
> Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
> Microsoft Windows Division

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