Frisian problems (was: New language subtags)

John.Cowan jcowan at
Thu Nov 10 05:19:29 CET 2005

(Note: redirecting this to ietf-languages only; Peter Constable, please take note)

Doug Ewell scripsit:

> Note also that "frr" does not currently exist 
> in ISO/DIS 639-3, although it does not conflict with it.

Where do you get this from?  Both the Ethnologue and the ISO 639-3 site
show 'frr' as the code for Northern Frisian.

In looking this up, I spotted two serious problems with Frisian.
ISO 639-3 treats Frisian (coded as 'fy' in 639-1 and RFC 3066, and as
'fry' in 639-2) as a cover term for the three Frisian languages, Western
Frisian ('fri'), Northern Frisian ('frr'), and Eastern Frisian ('frs').

Problem #1:  We now have a 639-2 code for Frisian in general, and one for
Northern Frisian specifically, but none for Western Frisian specifically,
even though the latter is some 70 times larger than the former and has
far more literature.  This should be rectified by adding 'fri' to the
639-2 code set.

Problem #2:  According to the original macrolanguage documentation, 'fry'
in 639-3 was intended to represent a family of related languages, the
Frisian languages.  As of the 14th edition of the Ethnologue, the three
languages were indeed named "Western Frisian", "Northern Frisian", and
"Eastern Frisian".  With the 15th edition, however, the last language was
renamed "Saterfriesisch" and coded 'stg'.  The term "Eastern Frisian"
is now applied to the Frisian-influenced Low German language of the
region of Germany called Ostfriesen.

Therefore, Eastern Frisian ('frs') should be removed from the 'fy'/'fry'
macrolanguage and replaced by 'stg'.

Why are well-meaning Westerners so concerned that   John Cowan
the opening of a Colonel Sanders in Beijing means   jcowan at
the end of Chinese culture? [...]  We have had
Chinese restaurants in America for over a century,
and it hasn't made us Chinese.  On the contrary,
we obliged the Chinese to invent chop suey.            --Marshall Sahlins

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