Swiss german, spoken

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Sun Jun 12 23:45:52 CEST 2005

I quote your previous message:

>> Ys, but that is bollocks. Every language can be written.

Being "unwritten" is not a property of a language per se, it is a property
of an *instance* which would be tagged, such as an audio recording of the "I
have a Dream" speech, which does not contain written content. This is
similar to other uses of script: when I tag text with Arab, I am not saying
that that language is always written in Arabic, just that the instance is.

Thus the interpretation for "code for unwritten languages" -- which is not
contravened by the text of ISO 15924 -- is that when tagging data, it is
indicating an instance where the language happens to be unwritten. So using
en-Zxxx-US for the "I have a Dream" speech is perfectly reasonable.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael Everson" <everson at>
To: "IETF Languages Discussion" <ietf-languages at>
Sent: Sunday, June 12, 2005 10:03
Subject: Re: Swiss german, spoken

> At 09:40 -0700 2005-06-12, Mark Davis wrote:
> >so gsw-Zxxx could mean unwritten Swiss German, en-Zxxx unwritten English,
> In what way is English an unwritten language? English is a written
> language; application of Zxxx to it would, I think, be a misuse of
> that tag. Zxxx is "code for unwritten languages". Not "code for
> materials not written".
> Though it *is* a little odd that we have a code for languages in the
> list of script codes.
> Swiss German, of course, is often written for various cultural purposes.
> -- 
> Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *
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> Ietf-languages mailing list
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