Variants of Japanese (was: Re: Unilingua)

Doug Ewell dewell at
Mon Sep 19 00:30:06 CEST 2005

Tex Texin <tex at xencraft dot com> wrote:

> How do you know there are no other varieties of Japanese, so that ja
> is the right answer?
> I am under the impression there is a variant in Hokkaido and maybe
> others. In any event, it is difficult to prove that none exists, and
> it is a claim that can only be made by experts with knowledge of where
> Japanese speakers are and how well their language conforms, not lay
> people tagging content.

If there is such a variant that lay people can identify, which bears on
the intelligibility of the text in question, the text should be tagged
accordingly.  If no such variation is relevant, the text should be
tagged accordingly.  Both RFC 3066 and RFC 3066bis specifically warn
against using tags with more information than circumstances warrant.

> Maybe it is a version of Japanese I intend to use worldwide so I
> should use ja-001?

If it were established that regional variants of Japanese existed, such
that ja-JP differed from ja-wherever in a way that affected vocabulary
or usage or spell-checking of something, then ja-001 would indicate a
variety of Japanese that was suitable worldwide.  It may or may not be
true that such a distinction is necessary.

There is such a thing as en-US and en-GB, where en-US "cookie" is
equivalent to en-GB "biscuit" in a way that affects intelligibility (a
"biscuit" in en-US means something different).  My understanding of 001
is that the use of en-001 would indicate that the text thus tagged is
free of such potential ambiguities.  The same logic would apply to any
other language with significant regional variations.

Doug Ewell
Fullerton, California

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