The limit of language codes

David Starner prosfilaes at
Fri Feb 16 16:24:39 CET 2007

On 2/16/07, Gerard Meijssen <GerardM at> wrote:
> Why is it that there is no support for any specific functionality for so
> many languages ??

Functionality in what sense? In the general sense, I'd say money.
Decent translation and internationalization takes a lot of
people-hours, which usually has to be paid.

> It is because it is extremely hard to recognise content as
> such. Much analysis of the content of the Internet just does not happen as a
> result. When people can reliably indicate: "Give an article on AIDS and give
> it to me in my mother tongue", you will find that much content will become
> available in other languages. It will become available because it allows for
> better communication.

Putting everything else aside: why do _I_ care? It goes on my list
with things like the starving children in Africa and saving the
whales. I respect that you care, but there are thousands of issues in
this world worth caring about, and yours is not one of the handful I
have the interest and time to take up.

> When you only consider books for "Project Gutenberg", you will agree that
> from a language point of view there is not much consistency for western
> books dated before 1700. They each feature very much their own unique
> language. They are all very much one of a kind.

No, not really. One Elizabethan English book uses much the same
language as the next. If you want to spell-check or something, it's a
little different, but readers of such material don't care.

> You want to be practical for
> your own purposes but I am not convinced that what you propose does help
> that much.

It helps me clearly label books in a way that people can have an idea
whether they can read contents, and makes sure they don't get mixed in
with books for people who speak modern Czech or whatever.

> As to your notion that we are not a missionary group, well to be brutally
> honest I think the lack of marketing is one of the failings of the work that
> has been done. The work may be of good quality but the relevancy is not what
> it should be. With only 15% of the Internet content tagged and much of it
> tagged incorrectly we may convince ourself that what we do is relevant. We
> have however not convinced the world at large.

I don't care. My goal in life is not to convince the world at large
that what I do matters. I'm studying to be a mathematician, and most
people couldn't name five mathematicians if their life depended on it.
Apathy here is a life saver.

Less tongue in check, this standard is a powerful tool being used by
many organizations. We've hardly failed if all this means is that
computer programmers and librarians have and use a standard set of
language tags.

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