Language picking

Don Osborn dzo at
Fri Oct 6 19:09:28 CEST 2006

Thanks, John, I think the Locale Generator as such was a first cut. I'll cc
this to Alberto and Louise (who created the Generator earlier this year) for
their info (see archives via ).

Two issues: you and they base the list on 639-3, which is okay if
"macrolanguages," are included and better yet if 639-1 code categories are
also there. I think the level of precision of language picking for locales
and localization depends a lot on the use. If it's localizing a software, it
makes no sense to look at separate versions for 8 varieties of
Fulfulde/Pulaar, or a dozen or so Manding tongues, but if you are talking
about text it might even be helpful in some cases to have a finer
distinction. There are lots of such examples in Africa, for instance.

This need for flexibility almost seems to require a more "artisanal"
approach that lets real people who are more or less familiar with the
languages, countries, needs, etc. access information to make the choices
based on their perceived specific needs. This is the sense of the PAL
African language wiki I also mentioned.

Where I think lists such as those you and Alberto and Louise are working on
fitting in this process is in providing a range of information and options
on the way to producing some output - and that that output be explicitly
part of an iterative process. That is to say, it is not the final word in
itself, but an aid in reaching an appropriate solution. The products of
Locale Generator, for example, indeed are reviewed before submission.

Ultimately an interactive search option might be a good feature for such
lists (which I guess requires a database or an advanced search facility). It
might also alert users to language synonym issues - unrelated languages with
the same or similar names that might be confused.

Hope this helps.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at] 
Sent: Friday, October 06, 2006 12:00 PM
To: Don Osborn
Cc: debbie at; ltru at; ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Language picking

Don Osborn scripsit:

> The Locale Generator - (list of 
> languages for creation of locales from ISO/FDIS 636-3 - needs to be 
> amended IMO; country is selected after language)

This is a fine example of what's wrong with just using the bare list of
languages.  The list is here broken up by first letter of the alphabet into
27 sublists, but when I look for Dari under "D", I don't find it and go away
in disgust (see my earlier posting).

John Cowan <cowan at>   
Today an interactive brochure website, tomorrow a global content management
system that leverages collective synergy to drive "outside of the box"
thinking and formulate key objectives into a win-win game plan with a
quality-driven approach that focuses on empowering key players to drive-up
their core competencies and increase expectations with an all-around
initiative to drive up the bottom-line. --Alex Papadimoulis

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