Language Subtag Registration Form: variant "signed"

Doug Ewell dewell at
Sun Feb 26 03:30:54 CET 2006

Frank Ellermann <nobody at xyzzy dot claranet dot de> wrote:

>> in the first case the lexical source for the signs is British
>> SL, whereas in the second case it's Irish SL.
> Yes, so far it's clear, and what practical relevance does that
> have wrt tagged content ?  Is en-IE-signed "undecodable" for a
> signer of en-GB-signed ?

It is claimed that the two are not mutually intelligible.

> In other words, would we today simply register -1901 and -1996
> with a simple prefix de- and be done with it, or create a list
> de, de-AT, de-CH, de-DE with apologies to BE, DK, IT, etc. ?

It would probably depend on whether the 1901 vs. 1996 distinction truly 
meant different things with regard to de-DE, de-AT, de-CH, and so 
forth -- not only that some countries chose to implement the reform 
while others did not, but literally that the reforms themselves were 
different.  (I don't believe this to be true for the Rechtschreibung.)

That is the premise with regard to signed spoken languages: that Signed 
American English is fundamentally different from Signed British English, 
because of reliance on ASL vs. BSL respectively, or for other reasons.

I'm not at all dogmatic about the exact list of prefixes.  Please feel 
free to propose changes to it.  The main point is supposed to be the 
introduction of a "signed" variant subtag that indicates, as Peter said, 
the signed modality of a spoken/written language, as distinct from a 
true sign language.

>> I continue to believe that signed spoken languages should be
>> handled with an extension so that both the lexical source
>> (a SL) and the grammatical source (a spoken language) can be
>> fully specified.
> As long as that extension registry doesn't exist it's no reason
> to reject the request.

The extension registry does exist; it just happens to be empty right 

IMHO, the question of whether to implement this with a variant or an 
extension has nothing to do with whether any extensions already exist.

> But something is very odd with it, is
> "signed" actually a kind of script, only signed, not written ?

Signed is not a kind of script.  Scripts are written.  The difference is 
between "spoken" and "written" and "signed."

> Maybe a hypothetical "Lats" is better than "signed".  Assuming
> that the used signs are somehow derived from "Latn".  It's
> probably bogus to tag  en-Brai-signed  or similar.  Of course
> Doug's request doesn't list prefix en, let alone en-Brai.  Bye

Even if some signs (e.g. fingerspelling) are "derived from Latin," they 
are no longer Latin or a variant thereof, any more than Latin is a 
variant of Greek.

Doug Ewell
Fullerton, California, USA

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