Language Subtag Registration Form: variant "signed"

Peter Constable petercon at
Sun Feb 26 22:31:36 CET 2006

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Doug Ewell

> 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'd like to understand the relationships between varieties and their expressions better before I comment further on the proposal. I'm going to be speaking on Monday with a linguist in SIL that has been interacting with signed-language projects around the world for a number of years and has a good understanding of these issues.

> >> 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.

I'd prefer to avoid extensions if possible, but I'm willing to consider the possibility that it may be appropriate for this set of cases. It just seems to me preferable if we can use the existing mechanisms that will be widely supported.

> > 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".

Something like "Lats" might possibly make sense to refer to finger spelling of Latin characters, but I'm not sure that isn't conflating orthogonal criteria, and I'm also not sure how useful it would be.

> 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.

Valid point.

Peter Constable

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