Doug Ewell dewell at
Fri Aug 17 06:53:11 CEST 2007

Karen underscore Broome at spe dot sony dot com wrote:

> [Note: It appears that the UN has assigned an m49 code for Scotland 
> (829?). If this is more appropriate, please let me know. A shorter 
> regional tag might be nice.]

John's response was correct about the UNSD not showing the sub-UK codes 
in the official list, but using them in the Common Database.  It's one 
of the pitfalls of UN M.49 compared to the other core standards used by 
BCP 47; I get the feeling the UNSD doesn't treat M.49 as a true 
"standard" in need of diligent and consistent maintenance.

Since we do try to be diligent and consistent, the wording in RFC 4646, 
Section 2.2.4, bullet point 3 is as follows:

"A.  UN numeric codes assigned to 'macro-geographical (continental)' or 
sub-regions MUST be registered in the registry.  These codes are not 
associated with an assigned ISO 3166 alpha-2 code and represent 
supra-national areas, usually covering more than one nation, state, 
province, or territory."

It doesn't say we can't use UN numeric codes assigned to subnational 
regions, probably because we didn't know there were such codes.

>      Type: variant
>      Subtag: scottish
>      Description: Scottish
>      Prefix: en

Karen says she has a real-world need for this, and understands the 
difference between Scottish English and Scots.  I support her proposal 
to the extent that Scottish English can be shown to have genuine 
intelligibility gaps with non-Scottish English, and there does seem to 
be evidence.  I've talked to people in (or from) England who claim not 
to understand the accent OR vocabulary of Scottish English.  Certainly 
if it uses "I doubt it will rain" to mean "I fear it will rain," as the 
Wikipedia article says, that would be the smoking gun of mutual 
non-intelligibility for me.

But I know this request will meet a huge wall of resistance.  Two years 
ago I floated a semi-private proposal for "en-england" and "en-scotland" 
and "en-wales" and "en-nireland", and the response was swift and 
fiercely negative.  I believe the word "bollocks" was involved.

Doug Ewell  *  Fullerton, California, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14 

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