draft-phillips-langtags-08, process, sp ecifications, "stability", and extensions

Dave Singer singer at apple.com
Mon Jan 3 19:30:22 CET 2005

>The *meaning* of any given language tag would be no more or less a 
>problem under the proposed revision than it was for RFC 3066 or RFC 
>1766. For instance, there is a concurrent thread that has been 
>discussing when country distinctions are appropriate or recommended 
>("ca" or "ca-ES"?); this discussion pertains to RFC 3066, and part 
>of the issue is that meanings of tags are implied rather than 
>specified -- and always have been even under RFC 1766 (I pointed 
>this out five years ago when we were working on preparing RFC 3066).
>So, for instance, when an author uses "de-CH", what does he intend 
>recipients to understand to be the difference between that and 
>"de-DE" or even "de"? Neither RFC 1766 or RFC 3066 shed any light on 
>this, and ultimately only the author knows for sure.
>Under RFC 3066, it was the *exceptional* case that a complete tags 
>was registered, allowing some indication of the meaning of the whole 
>(though even in that regard nothing really required that the 
>documentation provide clear indication of the meaning). The 98% 
>cases were those like "de-CH" in which it was assumed that everyone 
>would understand what the intended meaning is.

This whole question of what 'matches' is subtle.  Consider the case 
when I have a document that has variant content by language (e.g. 
different sound tracks), and the user indicates a set of preferred 
languages.  If the content has "de-CH" and "fr-CH" (swiss german and 
french), and a default "en" (english) and the user says he speaks 
"de-DE" and "fr-FR", on the face of it nothing matches, and I fall 
back to the catch-all default, which is almost certainly not the best 
David Singer
Apple Computer/QuickTime

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