Language Subtag Registration Form: variant "signed"

Addison Phillips addison at
Tue Feb 28 20:32:33 CET 2006

I think that it is inappropriate for sign languages to be forced to use the
"sgn-XXX" extlang form for language tags now or in the future. (Note: this
is not the same as the "sgn-XX" form previously registered. I am talking
about using extended language subtags, not region subtags)

In reading about sign languages (and conversations with various linguists
over the years) I see that the speaker community is always careful to state
that sign languages are fully capable, independent languages with their own
grammar and syntax and which are unrelated to the language used by the
surrounding "hearing" community. Furthermore they usually go on to state
that different sign languages are separate and not mutually intelligible.
The frequency and vociferousness of these statements suggests that we avoid
creating just those artificial relationships (either to a spoken language or
to each other) in language tags.

There is no reason why ISO 639-3 IDs such as "ase" could not be made
full-fledged language subtags and no reason why sign languages need the
macro-language subtag "sgn" that indicates a (false) inter-relationship
between these languages. Variant registrations (for pidgins, for example)
should be considered in their own time and on their own merits... and, IMO,
should be based on some actual need or application that better enables this
list to evaluate the request and its ramifications.

Best Regards,


Addison Phillips
Internationalization Architect - Yahoo! Inc.

Internationalization is an architecture.
It is not a feature. 

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