Phonetic orthographies

Eric Muller emuller at
Wed Nov 22 08:25:41 CET 2006

Doug Ewell wrote:
> I hear the following two lines of argument:
> [...]
3. In the context of (written) language identification, we don't really 
care about scripts per se, we care about orthographies. It is true that 
for those languages where there are multiple orthographies we care to 
distinguish, it is often the case that each orthography uses a different 
script (Mongolian in Cyrillic vs. Mongolian in Mongolian vs. Mongolian 
in Latin), so scripts look like the "primary" attribute. But that is 
just an illusion; witness the fact that pretty soon we are forced to 
treat as separate scripts Hans and Hant to maintain that illusion (no to 
mention that there is no way to account, using scripts, for the two 
modern written forms of modern Greek).

Rather than fight about what a script is (Mark), or equivalently what 
ISO 15924 is about (Ken), and since the world of language tags is 
isolated of other standards via its registry anyway, why not just say 
that the four-chars subtags are orthographies and be done with it? That 
does not preclude to use (and reuse) the subtag "Latn" as a convenient 
name for those situations where there is just one (or a single dominant) 
orthography that uses the Latin script.


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