Macrolanguages, countries & orthographies

Don Osborn dzo at
Tue Feb 13 22:48:09 CET 2007


If a new forum on ISO-639 is in the offing it might be worth giving it the scope of all of ISO-639 and not just part 3, though that is where a lot of the discussion is at the moment. If 639 is a system of several parts then inevitably discussion will involve the others; all the more with the eventual arrival of 5 & 6 and recalibration (or reinvention?) of 2.


On the other hand, I have to say that as one who only relatively recently joined ietf-languages & ltru that I would almost prefer recasting one of those to cover ISO-639. Or even to have a new larger language coding list be mandated to replace the set (hopefully that is not too heretical). *Another* list to follow is, well, yet another list to follow. And inevitably it will be cc’d on many messages to one or more of the other lists anyway. 


Just thought… 





From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mark Davis
Sent: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:24 PM
To: Doug Ewell
Cc: ietf-languages at; ltru at
Subject: Re: Macrolanguages, countries & orthographies



I wonder if there is, or is going to be, a public forum to discuss ISO
639-3 and its structure and policies.  This list really isn't it; we 
take what the external standards give us, and synthesize and arrange.
We don't directly influence what the external standards do, though there
are list members who can do so indirectly.

That would be very useful. We are very dependent on the interpretation of the codes. In particular, there is a key item that we need a response for, and that is the temporal scope of ISO language codes. For example, we have french broken up into fr, frm, and fro, plus various creoles. So  tagging old French data with fr is incorrect, and requesting a variant subtag to apply to fr to indicate French of say (1100-1200) is out of scope and will be legitimately rejected. 

For most other languages, on the other hand, we do not have that granularity. So that means what a document that is tagged with cs (Czech) represents is completely unspecified. We do not know what the !#$@ to do with a request. We are faced with an unknown situation which the ISO committee doesn't respond to. 

. . . 

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