Formal request for "French (all periods)"

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Wed Feb 14 18:32:14 CET 2007

I think this is premature. We need clarification as to whether codes like
fra are disjoint with codes like frm and fro first. If they are disjoint,
then we need to have the policy clearly stated for language codes that do
not have "Old" alternates. For the purpose of illustration, assume that old
Czech is as different from modern as fro is from fr. There are the following
two alternatives:

   1. The subtag 'cs' means any Czech, modern or old, and therefore
      1. cs can legitimately be used to tag a document with old Czech.
      2. a request to the ietf-languages at for a variant-subtag
      applying to cs indicating old Czech is perfectly reasonable, and
      SHOULD be granted.
      3. ISO can only add another subtag that means old Czech if cs is
      treated as a metalanguage, since otherwise that would invalidate old
      2. The subtag 'cs mean only modern Czech, and therefore
      1. cs cannot be correctly used to tag a document with old Czech,
      so the only recourse is to use a private use code or 'und'.
      2. a request to the ietf-languages at for a variant-subtag
      applying to cs indicating old Czech is illegitimate, and MUST
      not be granted.
      3. ISO can and should add a different subtag that means old


On 2/13/07, cowan at <cowan at> wrote:
> ISO 639-2 (and a fortiori ISO 639-3) contains identifiers for Old French
> (fro), Middle French (frm), and Modern French (fra), separated by time
> periods.  This subdivision works well for most documents, as the given
> dates correspond roughly to the timeline for major changes in the written
> form of the evolving French language.
> However, sometimes the exact provenance of a document cannot be
> determined, while internal language features may indicate a language
> variety that bridges the Old/Middle or the Middle/Modern divides.
> Classification of such doubtful or ambiguous documents is enhanced
> by providing a macrolanguage code which encompasses French of all time
> periods.  I therefore propose a macrolanguage identifier that encompasses
> fro, frm, and fra.
> The filled-out forms are attached.  I suggest "frz" as the identifier.
> This is by way of a test case; if the RA approves it, I will submit
> similar forms for English, Dutch, (High) German, Greek, Gaelic,
> Provencal/Occitan, and Turkish.
> --
> Her he asked if O'Hare Doctor tidings sent from far     John Cowan
> coast and she with grameful sigh him answered that
> O'Hare Doctor in heaven was. Sad was the man that word  cowan at
> to hear that him so heavied in bowels ruthful. All
> she there told him, ruing death for friend so young,    James Joyce,
> Ulysses
> algate sore unwilling God's rightwiseness to withsay.   "Oxen of the Sun"
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