"mis" update review request (also mul)

CE Whitehead cewcathar at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 18 01:52:10 CEST 2007

1. mis

Peter Constable wrote:

>>I would have little difficulty with the idea that we tell people not
>>to use mis. (Naturally -- again, at some point I suggested we not even
>>allow collections of any kind in IETF tags.) We could deprecate it in
>>the registry, or put a clear SHOULD NOT (if we think just maybe there
>>are some application scenarios in which informed and consenting adults
>>might have a reasonable use for it).

>Let's do both, a SHOULD NOT in 4646bis, and add a "comment" to the LSTR
>now.  LTRU can't deprecate "mis" directly in the registry, for subtags
>copied from ISO standards this field reflects what the sources say.  In
>theory the comment could be very aggressive (DO NOT USE or similar), but
>IMO quoting John's statement about "mis" should have the same effect.



(& perhaps recommend that creators of documents should always include an 
update date;
this might help applications interpret the subtags properly as well ???;
but for the other subtag, "mul," I would not say
'never use "mul"'
--see below--as there are some instances where I think it would be a good 
idea to use "mul" to indicate the target audience native language)

Here's the comment John suggested some time back:

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org

>Bullet point 3 of section 4.1 of rfc-4646-04 currently says:
>'Use specific language subtags or subtag sequences in preference to subtags 
>for language collections. A "language collection" is a subtag derived from 
>one of the ISO 639-2 codes that represents multiple related languages. For 
>example, the > code 'cmc' represents "Chamic languages". The registry 
>contains values for each of the approximately ten individual languages 
>represented by this collective code. For example 'jra' (Jarai) and 'cja' 
>(Western Cham).'
>I suggest adding the following additional text:

>'Using a collective language code may often be convenient or necessary when 
>detailed information is not available. However, collections are defined,
>not by enumerating specific languages, but by genetic or other criteria, 
>and so a specific language may be moved out of a given collection if 
>further information about the language becomes available. Thus collective 
>language codes are inherently more unstable.'

This comment continues and gets a bit wordy (or maybe John did not mean to 
have the next part included in the comment?):
'{ For guidance in interpreting these
>suggestions, I think we now need to include  -> Please consult} {the 639-3 
>?? -639} scope information in language subtags {-> on?}: "individual 
>language", "macrolanguage", "collective" or "private use". '

{With my edits this becomes:

"Please consult the 639-3 scope information (0r simply 639?? scope 
information) in (?? with?) language subtags on:  "individual language", 
"macrolanguage", "collective" or
"private use". '

2. mul

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Sat Apr 14 00:03:40 CEST 2007

>Harald Alvestrand scripsit:

>>Seems to me we missed one when we did not lump "mis" in with "und" and 
>>"mul" as "useless for tagging, don't".

>Indeed.  However, a use for "und-Latn" and "und-IN" has now been found.
* * *
Here I must disagree with the notion that "mul" is useless
for tagging;
while "mul" may not be especially useful for tagging content
(& for me, after reading through all this discussion, the question still 
would I use "mul" if I had sort of indeterminate content in possibly 
multiple languages
or "mis"??)
"mul" is useful for indicating the audience native language for say English 
lessons which are in the immersion style
(that is no native language is used in the lessons, but only the language 
being learned),
and which you want to make available to audiences who speak multiple 

* * *
NOTE (extraneous info. for anyone interested)

(* There are also language lessons that target an audience whose native 
language is one specific language:

(1) immersion language lessons where the audience language is not used, but 
which nevertheless compare the audience language--its structure [grammatical 
and rhetorical] say--to the language being learned
[for example in Arabic grammar, when you relativize an object, you always 
repeat the specific object pronoun that the relative pronoun refers to--that 
is, if you relativize 'book' in "I gave him the book" you say what would be 
translated into English literally as "the book WHICH I gave IT to him";
also in Arabic rhetoric it's common to build paragraphs using repeated 
parallel structures and it's common to use almost identical synonyms to 
express an idea whose meaning actually falls in the grey area where the 
synonyms' meanings overlap-the use of two synonyms is a way to make an idea 
more precise when you do not have the exact words, and in fact it's often 
better to describe things using two words;
this is true for Semitic rhetoric in general but I've heard that religious 
writings are supposed to be a bit more terse and some of the long 
descriptions are left out of these];

(2) non-immersion lessons where some concepts are explained in the learner's 
native language.

In the two cases described in this note, "mul" of course would obviously not 
be the appropriate subtag to indicate the language of the intended 
audience--but it's fine for immersion language lessons aimed at a general 

--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at hotmail.com

Don’t quit your job – Take Classes Online and Earn your Degree in 1 year. 
Start Today! 

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list