language subtag registration request: Region EU

Peter Constable petercon at
Mon Jan 16 18:51:20 CET 2006

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

> As Tex said, what is special is the frequency and rapidity "in terms of
> code assignment lifetimes" with which the EU changes its boundaries...

There's no question that the EU is expanding over time. It's not obvious to me that this would be a problem with using EU as a region subtag in language tags. (Use of *-EU in matching has different concerns, though -- see below.)

Consider a hypothetical country Fenestria, the official language of which is Fenestrian; for sake of discussion, let's suppose the 3166-1 ID "FE" and the 639-2 ID "fen". At present, content can be tagged "fen" or "fen-FE" (perhaps it's used with different spelling in a neighbouring country). Let's also suppose that in 2012 Fenestria becomes a member of the EU. At that point, content can be tagged "fen-EU".

While there may be ambiguity regarding the meaning of "EU" used in isolation, there's no ambiguity whatsoever regarding "fen-EU": it's Fenestrian as used within the EU.

(I think we'd need to clarify what is meant by "as used within the EU. Does that mean "as used within Fenestria after it joined the EU" or "as used by the EU administration"? I think it should be the latter -- if we were to allow a subtag for the EU.)

In the context of matching, the ambiguity of EU ‎can be a very real problem if we allow *-EU to resolve to the union of *-x where x represents all the EU member countries: this would result in queries that change dramatically as the EU evolves. But if we don't allow *-EU to match in this way, i.e. *-EU matches only tags that explicitly have the subtag "EU", then this problem doesn't arise.

On the other hand, Tex also made another comment, a variant of which I think is valid: if there is no clear need for a distinction, then we should not allow a subtag to make that distinction. 

Consider in relation to the Fenestrian example: If there's no difference in dialect, written form or spelling between Fenestrian as used in the EU or Fenestrian prior to EU membership, then the tag difference is superfluous -- there's no distinction being made. If there *were* some difference -- say the EU adopts different spelling than was used in FE -- then "fen-FE" and "fen-EU" are distinct; but how likely is this? Why would the EU adopt different spelling? 

Is there a real scenario in which a distinction is made -- something like de-EU vs. de-DE, or fr-EU vs. fr-FR? I don't believe Markus has demonstrated such distinctions exist.

Peter Constable

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