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

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Sat Dec 16 17:48:17 CET 2006

>>One editorial note:
>>A Prefix field can only contain one tag value, so this must be:
>>Prefix: fr
>>Prefix: frm
>>and a substantive note:
>>While I have no blanket objection to defining two Prefix values for a 
>>variant, as long as the variant applies to both, CE has defined both "fr" 
>>and ""frm" as the Prefix for these proposed subtags with the express goal 
>>of flattening the distinction between these two languages, which he views 
>>as one language, for searching and retrieval purposes. It is not our job 
>>to reverse the decisions of the ISO 639 experts as to "one language or 
>>two"; I doubt anyone can find a previous instance in the past 11 years 
>>where we have done so. I do not favor starting now.

Hi, no it's not to flatten the distinction in what are clearly two dialects 
and not really two languages; I studied French in school and never learned 
these as separate languages;
it's to make the distinction in the 16th and 17th centuries more flexible.

I do not think I ever said my goal was to flatten the distinction completely 
and indeed I have left 15th century French untouched as frm!  It's different 
enough for me to leave it be though in fact it too is fairly comprehensible 
to speakers of Modern French (but of course even Shakespeare is not 
accessible to everyone).

Of course my main concern is that the search engines will not retrieve these 
documents as French; I do not think you can guarantee they will as each 
company implements things its own way and the focus has been on major modern 

The problem is that both 'Middle French' and 'Early Modern French' (if you 
will) were in use in the 17th century and words and spellings from both are 
in the 1694 dictionary; in addition the 'Middle French' of the 16th century 
was rapidly becoming 'Early Modern French.'

That's why I opted for two prefixes; I am sorry you cannot accept it.

Another note though:
Old French is about as different from Modern French as Middle English is 
from Modern English.
The dates of the two are abotu the same; the dates of Old English are I 
think 5th-11th centuries--much earlier than the dates for Old French;
I never had to study any Middle French to read 16th century literature and 
poetry and I think no one does.

But I do note that European languages that are to someone who has studied a 
few (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) mutually comprehensible (I only studied 
Spanish, French, and Latin; but I'm able to read Dante, Gallego Portuguese, 
etc), are considered separate languages; this has been the way, because of 
Nation building, to label differences that might be considered dialectical 
in say China, as significant enough to make X a separage language from Y.

That's politics though not linguistics, but I do not wish to flatten those 
differences nor do I wish to change dialects elsewhere into languages.

That's not my goal; I am not that revolutionary.

You're assuming a lot of intentions that just are not there.

I'm sorry to see you all so rigid and unwelcoming of such codings when you 
have got  OED  for English.  I want to remind you that other languages on 
the web have rights besides English which is only a lengua franca and not an 
official language.

But I have done my bit; I have other things to do on the computer and I am 
now leaving it to IETF; I hope you will make a quick decision and assist all 
the languages out there besides English and German with their language codes 

--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at

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