OT: Language picking

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Fri Oct 6 17:44:41 CEST 2006

Michael Everson scripsit:

> I don't think I get it. I use the Irish Locale because I live in 
> Ireland, then I change the date preferences to the ISO 2006-10-06 
> format, and when I have a choice, I select my preferred as en_CA 
> because that's the variety closest to Oxford spelling (colour, 
> civilize).

This isn't about locales, it's about a method for choosing among the 7000+
languages of ISO 639-3.  A list box with 7000 entries is not practical,
and if you can't guess the exact ISO 639-3 name (but know it when you
see it, as in the name "Eastern Farsi" for Dari), then something better
than search will be required.

To recap, I'm proposing this as one possible method:

1) Choose a country in which the language is spoken;
2) Choose among the dominant, minority, extinct, and immigrant/incidental
   languages of that country;
3) Choose among either (a) a generic (countryless) version, (b) the
   version specific to the country you chose in #1, (c) a list of
   countries where the language is known to be spoken, or (d) all other

That gives you the language-country part of an RFC 4646bis language tag.

Example:  Let's suppose you want a tag for Dari.  You know it is
spoken in Afghanistan, so you choose that country in step 1.  You
now get a list of 47 languages spoken there, a considerably more
manageable list than 7000+.  You figure out that "Farsi, Eastern"
is what you want.  That nails down the language subtag as "prs",
completing step 2.

You now have a choice of:

	Generic Dari (prs);
	The Dari of Afghanistan (prs-AF);
	The Dari of other known countries (in this case Pakistan, prs-PK);
	The Dari of any other country (say, prs-IR or prs-US if any).

John Cowan  cowan at ccil.org  http://ccil.org/~cowan
Any sufficiently-complicated C or Fortran program contains an ad-hoc,
informally-specified bug-ridden slow implementation of half of Common Lisp.
        --Greenspun's Tenth Rule of Programming (rules 1-9 are unknown)

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