Language Subtag Registration Form: variant "signed"

Peter Constable petercon at
Tue Feb 28 23:04:39 CET 2006

> From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at]

> > - We generally treat varieties like Signed English as registers of
> > signed language they are associated with. Thus, the tag is formed by
> > adding a variant subtag to the tag for the sign language. Because
> > can be multiple varieties for a given sign language/spoken language
> > combination, registered variant subtags provide the necessary level
> > flexibility. E.g. something like "sgn-ase-enexact"
> > for SEE and SEE2; and "sgn-ase-esbaja" for the signed Spanish spoken
> > in southern Baja California (which is based on ASL).
> My proposal differs from this only in the point that instead of
> these ad hoc varieties, we use an -s- singleton that allows us to
> *any* spoken language as the morphosyntactic source.  So instead of
> sgn-ase-esbaja we have sgn-ase-s-es.
> is a nice page on
> various manually coded Englishes around the world that illustrates
> the diversity of the problem.

I have a concern with what you propose here: We really talking about
language variety distinctions of a similar nature to what we deal with
for oral languages. That means we'd like processes that support
oral-language distinctions work just as well for these signed-language
distinctions (at least, I see that as a good goal). By introducing an
extension, that immediately means that not all processes will handle
this equally well. Extensions make sense to me where there is an entire
class of needs that branch off language-id'n; this would only be
segmenting one set of varieties from the rest where the class of
problems (mainly matching requests and content according to
language-variety preferences) is the same.

On the other hand, I can see it might be useful to use a lang ID to be
able to reflect the oral language side of the language-contact pairing.
In concocting examples, I wanted to put a lower-level delimiter in the
variant subtag, e.g. something like sgn-ase-es=baja (where "es=baja" as
a unit would be considered a variant subtag) but of course our
back-compat syntax requirement didn't allow that. A convention like
"es0baja" would of course be possible, but any such convention would
need a spec, which suggests the kind of solution you propose using an

Peter Constable

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