Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Tue Dec 12 17:49:48 CET 2006

Hi.  I'm requesting the tag for French, and possibly for English and 
not for Old English or Esperanto if you look at the prefix (Old 
English was not spoken in the 16th century; that was Elizabethan 
English a variant of modern English that was spoken at the end of the 
16th and 17th centuries; Shakespeare's plays supposedly 
'standardized' the English language which was quite varied (Chaucer's 
dialect was just one of the many dialects spoken in the 13th-14th 
centuries, the period of Middle English.

The way I see it we need tags to specify the period in which the 
language was spoken as language varies over time; 17th century works 
very nicely for 17th century French which can be treated together to 
some degree though there is still quite a bit of variation in the 
language then; 16th century is an alternative tag for 16th century 
French, which is accessible to modern French speakers but is really 
still Middle French (this tag allows 16th century French to be tagged 
as modern but identified as a variant so that 16th century French 
literature will come up in a search for literature in French without 
the seeker's having to ask for literature in a separate language, 
Middle French; maybe this second tag should be 14thto16thc to include 
Middle French which did vary over time and get more modern which is 
why for the time being I just requested a 16th-c tag for this single 

French does not span the centuries in any sense as a constant fixed 
language; languages change over time and that is the point of having 
a tag to identify the century.  French does not actually stabilize as 
modern French until the 18th century!  It's not stable in the 17th 
century!  There are a few varieties of the language going around but 
there are peculiarities in the language which distinguish it from 
Modern French and which come from Middle French; in addition there 
are new words that come from the Americas ("canot" for canoe; and so 

We first get modern French in the 17th century somewhere towards the 
middle maybe even with the establishment of the Academie Francaise 
and its early efforts at making the language uniform.  But it's not 
quite initially the modern French spoken today and varies between 
'Middle' and 'Modern' French and there is quite a bit of 

French as a language actually dates to the Middle Ages (but it's not 
modern French), to the time of Roland; before that you know we do not 
have French, we have Gaulish, Latin, Vulgar Latin, Aquitainian, and 
Arabic among others (Arabic goes back a bit further as its writing 
system and the standardized form of the language date to at least 0 
A.D.; I'm not an expert on the time period in which Arabic was first 
established though.

In the Middle Ages we have Old French (langue d'oeil), Old Occitan 
(langue d'oc), Catalan (close to Occitan), Gallego Portuguese, 
Mozarabic (combinations of Romance, mainly Spanish, and Arabic), and 
surprisingly to some Old Spanish too, plus of course Vulgar Latin.

--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at

>From: Michael Everson <everson at>
>To: IETF Languages Discussion <ietf-languages at>
>Subject: Re: Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c
>Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 15:10:38 +0000
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>I am inclined to think that "16th-century" is not a very good 
>subtag. What do we do when we have a language form that spans two 
>centuries? Shall we register twenty of these for the Common Era, and 
>ten or so for Before the Common Era? What about writing systems or 
>languages that span millennia?
>What would the meaning be for addig 16th-century to the language tag 
>for Old English or Esperanto?
>Michael Everson *
>Ietf-languages mailing list
>Ietf-languages at

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