John Cowan cowan at
Mon Apr 30 05:27:36 CEST 2007

Lars Aronsson scripsit:

> From a philosophical standpoint, you need names for things only to 
> tell them apart.  If there was no difference between apples and 
> pears, we could just call it "fruit" and that would be it.  It 
> follows that if there is a difference and you need a word for 
> "apples", then you also need a word for "pears".

Such asymmetries are not unknown in folk taxonomies.  Camels come in
one-humped (Arabian) and two-humped (Bactrian) species; there is the
specific term "dromedary" for the one-humped camel, but no analogous
word for the two-humped camel.

> It is peculiar (to me) already that "be-tarask" is registered 
> without also registering a subtag for the other, official version 
> of Belarusian.  Suppose I start up my word processor and activate 
> the spelling correction.  Which dictionary do I want to use?  
> Be-tarask or the other one that doesn't have a subtag?  Is that to 
> be called "be" without the subtag?  The only similar case I know 
> is de-1901 and de-1996, where both subtags were registered at the 
> same time.

Since no one has requested such a variant subtag, we cannot act until
someone does.

First known example of political correctness:   John Cowan
After Nurhachi had united all the other
Jurchen tribes under the leadership of the      cowan at
Manchus, his successor Abahai (1592-1643)
issued an order that the name Jurchen should       --S. Robert Ramsey,
be banned, and from then on, they were all           The Languages of China
to be called Manchus.

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