Sign languages (was: Re: additions to ISO 639 and the IANA language subtag registry)

Peter Constable petercon at
Mon Feb 27 00:57:48 CET 2006

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson

> At 17:59 -0800 2006-02-20, Mark Davis wrote:
> >I agree with Doug's comments. The use of "sgn-xxx" was never a
> >particularly way of tagging, since it implies that there is some
> >level of shared comprehension between "sgn-xxx" and "sgn-yyy".
> Well, it doesn't *have* to. Just because this sort of hierarchy
> applies to spoken languages does not mean that we cannot (for good
> reason) treat Sign Languages differently.
> And one way they are different is that a Sign Language's signs may be
> used to represent a spoken language's grammar in a particular way.

Michael, you're confusing the question of whether signed languages have unique linguistic characteristics that make them different from oral languages with the question of whether *identification* and language-tag-processing issues are different for signed languages and oral languages. 

There are algorithms designed for matching identifier tags; those algorithms are designed to work in the same way for all 3066pri/bis/ter tags regardless of what the tags signify. Having special-case tags for certain languages only means added complexity for matching algorithms since the general principles are no longer generalized.

That is what Mark is talking about.

Peter Constable

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