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

Doug Ewell dewell at
Wed Dec 13 07:07:47 CET 2006

Mark Davis <mark dot davis at icu dash project dot org> 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. 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).

There's a big difference here, though.  By adding a region like "GB" or 
a variant like "scouse" (or arguably even "boont"), you have not 
fundamentally changed the identity of the language; it's still English, 
and still tagged as such.

By contrast, in proposing "16thc" C.E. specifically meant to create an 
"[a]lternate tag for frm so that literature in frm which is readable to 
modern French speakers can be accessed with requests for literature in 
fr."  That is tantamount to overruling the decision of ISO 639-2/RA to 
consider "fr" and "frm" as different languages, which I am confident is 
not something we want to do.

The fact that many scholars literate in French can also read Middle 
French is immaterial; many scholars literate in German can also read 
Dutch and Frisian.  I claim that variants should be for specifying finer 
levels of detail in languages, not blurring the boundaries between 
languages, and that if multiple languages are to be accepted in a search 
then those languages should be individually specified in the search.

Having said that, I don't dispute that these interesting varieties of 
French may be worth tagging, and I invite C.E. to come up with 
functional descriptions for them that will answer Michael's and my 
concerns about shoehorning them into artificial 1?00-1?99 time frames.

Doug Ewell  *  Fullerton, California, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14

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