was RE: additions to ISO 639 and the IANA language subtag registry

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Mon Feb 20 22:57:47 CET 2006

At 12:10 -0800 2006-02-20, Peter Constable wrote:

>  > At 19:43 +0000 2006-02-20, Michael Everson wrote:
>>  >I have misgivings about how the Signed Languages
>>  ... are encoded ...
>>  >, in the Ethnologue and in 639.
>I've always had strong misgivings about how signed languages were 
>getting handled in the IANA registry.

Yes, and I don't think those misgivings were well-founded.

>This doesn't really address the general question I asked, btw.

That may be, but there is a real disconnect between what Ethnologue 
and 639 apparently do with Signed Languages and what RFC3066 does.

RFC 3066 registed sgn- as a generic (and non-genetic) indicator of 
the type of language (signed not spoken). Then the use of language 
tag and geographical tag corresponds to what the languages are 
usually called (generally in spoken languages with which the 
coexist). This notation is flexible enough to distinguish between 
American Sign Language and Signed English (as used in America). The 
Ethnologue and 639 give arbitrary three-letter codes for only the 
former class. I think this is a poor decision on the part of the 
editors of the Ethnologue, and we still have the problem of the 
latter class.

But I have said this before, and no one seemed to take me seriously. 
So now we have an RFCbis which probably doesn't help the Deaf 
community very well. Particularly as no one probably discussed this 
issue with Deaf community leaders like Valerie Sutton, who actually 
use the codes.
Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com

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