Scottish English

Karen_Broome at Karen_Broome at
Thu Oct 20 20:07:43 CEST 2005

Beyond the need to describe these languages in the ISO context, I have a 
need to structure these choices in drop-downs used in asset management 
systems in a way that prevents data quality problems. As noted by others, 
there is a lot of potential for confusion with the terms Scots, Gaelic, 
Scottish, etc. 

The Scottish English question originated as we were migrating content 
previously classified as "Scottish" from an recently acquired repository. 
That label, of course, means nothing.

While "Irish" may be a more common English-language term for Gaelic, and 
is the ISO term for this language, I won't use it. Why? Because I have 
people who will receive content identified only as Gaelic. If someone 
unfamiliar with Gaelic languages looks down a list and see the choices 
Irish and Scots Gaelic, they are likely to classify the film as Scots 
Gaelic whether it is or not. Instead, I use:

Gaelic (Irish)
Gaelic (Scots)

These names then sort together alphabetically and the classifier realizes 
that he or she must know whether the film is Irish Gaelic or Scots Gaelic. 
This is not a revolutionary practice, but I thought it was worth noting in 
the context of this discussion. So far I haven't had to add "Scots" to my 
list. :) It's my understanding that the product I have is Scottish English 
and not Scots.

- Karen Broome

"Peter Constable" <petercon at>
Sent by: ietf-languages-bounces at
10/20/2005 09:13 AM

        To:     <ietf-languages at>
        Subject:        RE: Scottish English

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Harald Tveit Alvestrand

> standard gripe....
> from the material available from ISO 639, there's no way of telling
> sure whether "sco" ("Scots") refers to a language related to English
or a
> language related to Gaelic.

Gary Simons and I identified this as an issue for ISO 639 in a paper we
presented back in 2000. On the one hand, you don't want to make the
descriptors given for languages a normative part of the standard, but on
the other hand, an identifier is meant to identify the concept of a
particular language, and it's important to make clear in some way what
the intended denotee language is. It's why the Web site for ISO 639-3
will have links to other sources that document this.

Peter Constable
Ietf-languages mailing list
Ietf-languages at

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