Language Subtag Registration Form: variant "signed"

Doug Ewell dewell at
Sun Feb 26 07:14:31 CET 2006

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

>> I don't believe this to be true for the Rechtschreibung.
> Yes, it's supposed to be identical.  Only the sets of used
> words are minimally different, sometimes also the meaning,
> and CH has no &szlig;  We could omit the regions if we'd
> register it today with prefix de.


>> 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 didn't know that, thanks for info.  Why do you say that they
> are "variants" of en-US or en-GB ?  Could somebody invent a
> new signed language for en, used in Liverpool and New York, so
> that you don't get away with the clumsy region codes ?

John describes the situation in more detail, involving mixtures of 
signed spoken language and true sign language, and I'm sure his version 
is more accurate than mine.  But the basic concept, as I understand it, 
is that if there is a taggable difference between language variants L1 
and L2, beyond spoken accent, then the signed versions of L1 and L2 
*may* also differ enough where they need to be tagged differently. 
There may also be situations where the spoken forms need to be 
differentiated but the signed forms do not, or vice versa.

Your New York-Liverpool variant would be tagged as "New York" or as 
"Liverpool," whichever is most convenient to identify the variant.  A 
cross-regional variant like this does not invalidate the region-subtag 
model.  There are never any guarantees that "en-XX" is spoken only in 
region XX.  American Sign Language (see below) is used in places other 
than the United States.

> Or they are variants not necessarily depending on the region.
> en-1sgn for ASL, en-2sgn for BSL, etc.  The "A" in ASL sounds
> like en-021-signed instead of en-US-signed.

It's extremely common usage, though technically incorrect and probably 
chauvinistic, to use "American" as the adjective when "United States" is 

> But there are obviously different ways to sign, as shown by
> your ASL vs. BSL.  If somebody invents CSL, what are you going
> to do, hope that it's in CA because it happens to be available
> for en-CA-signed ?

Careful, I think you may be confusing the two types of language. 
"American Sign Language" is not the same thing as "Signed Spoken English 
as used in the United States."  We have "sgn-US" for the former; I 
propose "en-US-signed" for the latter.

Doug Ewell
Fullerton, California, USA

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