Generic variant subtags in RFC 3066bis

Peter Constable petercon at
Tue Apr 19 00:02:35 CEST 2005

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of John Cowan

> When the RFC 3066bis registry is up and running, I intend to propose
> highly generic variant subtags which may be used with many languages.
> Some examples that come to mind are -northern, -southern, -eastern,
> and -central for geographical dialects; -ancient and -middle for
> versions of languages (-old being too short);

Note that ISO 639 does distinguish historic varieties at a low level of
granularity. E.g., 

ang = Old English (ca. 450 - 1100)
enm = Middle English (1100 - 1500)
eng = (Modern) English (1500 - present)

ISO 639-3 will continue using this approach; the draft code table has 34
"Old" entries and 14 "Middle" entries. The criterion for inclusion is
that there candidate historic language must have a body of literature
and must be treated as distinct from other historic stages by the
scholarly community.

> and -highreg, -midreg, and -lowreg
> for sociolinguistic registers.

Is this really a commonly-used basis for distinction between
sociolinguistic registers?

Peter Constable

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