Sign languages

Peter Constable petercon at
Mon Feb 27 13:23:26 CET 2006

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

> >I will continue to repeat as I have done for the past five years:
> >We're creating identifiers for languages, not regional variants of
> >languages. Using region IDs to make language distinctions is A Bad
> >Idea, pure and simple.
> I disagree with you. Sign Languages are almost always named after the
> country in which they are prevalent. Therefore it makes snese to use
> region IDs in this sense, for this class of languages. This is also
> why sgn- is useful as a prefix, because it signals that the region
> IDs are used in a different sense than they are for spoken languages.

It makes no more sense than would spk-DE, spk-FR, spk-IT, spk-ES, spk-RU, ...

> >- we leave no room to use region IDs to distinguish regional
> >sub-language varieties of signed languages that may be spoken in
> >multiple countries
> Name examples please. And for these languages, other suffixes may
> suffice for this purpose.

I don't know of any certain examples. Given that ASL is spoken in multiple countries (Ethnologue reports that it's used in varying degrees in Canada, Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Kenya, Madagascar, Benin, Togo, Zimbabwe, Singapore, and Hong Kong), it seems quite plausible there'd be some regional variation, though I don't know that for sure. But the potential surely exists.

Sure, other suffixes can be used. More ad hoc machinery that don't follow the systematic semantics of subtags for no good reason.

> >It is decidedly abusing the intended range of semantics for the
> >different kinds of sub-tags that can constitute a tag. This is just
> >bad, bad, bad; and just because we made the mistake in some existing
> >cases it doesn't make it a good idea to continue to make the mistake
> >in further cases. I said this in October 2001, and I'm only more
> >strongly convinced of it than I was then.
> I remain unconvinced. Sorry, Peter, but I remain unconvinced.

Yeah, well, that's what you said when I argued for a tag for "Latin America Spanish". 

Peter Constable

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