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

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Wed Dec 13 01:49:58 CET 2006

It is unclear to me why you think that fr-FR, fr-BE, or fr-CH is so much
better defined than fr-1500s, that we allow the former but should not allow
the latter. If you could explain some of your reasoning behind this, that
would be useful.

Let's suppose that we have a language X, that, as most languages, changes
over time. Typically what is done which distinguishing archaic versions, for
example, is to say that "Middle X" is the version that was spoken roughly
between Date 1 and Date 2. Of course, this is a simplification, because
clearly everyone in the world speaking X didn't magically change from
speaking Middle X to speaking Modern X on Date 2. So typically Date 1 and
Date 2 are approximated, and most typically to century boundaries.

So "Middle Cornish" refers to the language of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, for example. This doesn't mean that Middle Cornish was unchanging
during that period, of course, and a scholar could well want to refer to the
typically language of the 14th century vs the 15th century. Now, of course,
we could go down the line of saying that every time a scholar wants to refer
to something on a century level s/he has to go cap in hand to M. Everson and
convince him that some unique name should be attached to that variant, or we
could provide a mechanism that lets people tag what they want without so


On 12/12/06, Michael Everson <everson at> wrote:
> At 10:42 -0800 2006-12-12, Mark Davis wrote:
> >I'm not fully convinced, but am somewhat sympathetic to the request.
> >One of the great advantages of BCP 47 is the generative nature.
> Which makes programmers happy. I know that.
> >I can have a code like en-GB to indicate the variant of English as
> >used in the UK, even if the actual range of usage doesn't exactly
> >match the boundaries of the UK; it may be considerably larger or
> >somewhat smaller (if one considers 'standard' variants).
> And this is not at all like that, which is well-defined and narrowly
> delimited.
> >Similarly, a variant subtag like '16thc' (although personally I'd
> >prefer '1500s') attached to any language can designate a language
> >variant used roughly within that span of time, even if it is not
> >precise, and may span a much larger or somewhat smaller range of
> >usage.
> What a nightmare. You think this is a *good* idea, to have this
> available to apply to just anything?
> >It satisfies a general need of scholars, without requiring
> >interminable arguments as to the exact range of time within which
> >particular features of particular languages constituted
> >distinguishable variants.
> I'm scholar. I use the tools and methods of scholars to write the
> proposals I write to get stuff encoded, and HONESTLY, as a scholar,
> this kind of ill-defined vague thing is not really "satisfactory" to
> a "general need". Centuries run from x00 to x99, and languages may
> easily range from x50 to y11.
> Consider Old Cornish, Middle Cornish, Tudor Cornish, and Late
> Cornish. No round numbers there.
> --
> Michael Everson *
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list