Proposal for a subtag registration (fr-2004-ORTOGRAF)

Doug Ewell dewell at
Wed Dec 12 08:31:26 CET 2007

Stéphane Bortzmeyer <bortzmeyer at nic dot fr> wrote:

> To put things into perspective, what problem do we try to solve by 
> limiting registrations to variants that have a sizable user base, 
> "well-enough attested"?
> The size of the registry (hardly a problem at the time of YouTube 
> videos)?


> The difficulty of maintaining a large registry?


> The risk that some people would laugh at us if we register "vanity 
> subtags"?

Not "laugh."  Perhaps the risk that some people would not take the 
Registry seriously as a source of language tagging information if it 
included languages or orthographies requested by the inventor and not 
used outside the inventor's direct sphere of influence.

Remember that there once were concerns about people not taking Unicode 
seriously if it encoded the Klingon alphabet.

> I candidly ask this because RFC 4646 never mentions the criteria of 
> "well-enough attested use". It just says "This requirement is not 
> intended to exclude particular languages or dialects due to the size 
> of the speaker population or lack of a standardized orthography. 
> Minority languages will be considered equally on their own merits."

This is a good question that deserves a good answer.  What RFC 4646 says 
is that an attested language spoken by 10 aborigines deserves 
identification as much as a major language with millions of speakers and 
millions of books.  This was a response to the ISO 639-1 requirement 
that a language be represented by X number of documents spread across Y 
number of locations in order to be registered.

At the time this was written, we (LTRU) might not have adequately 
foreseen the potential for the inventor of a language, script, or 
orthography to propose a subtag for his or her invention.  In a case 
like this, the request is not necessarily inappropriate, but it is 
harder to determine whether it is appropriate because of the vested 
interest.  This is why Wikipedia has a policy against original research 
and entries for "things made up in school one day": the accuracy and 
importance of the material can't be confirmed.

I'm not sure what the solution is, or whether a solution can reasonably 
be written into RFC 4646bis.

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

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