The limit of language codes

Gerard Meijssen GerardM at
Fri Feb 16 17:10:19 CET 2007


On 2/16/07, David Starner <prosfilaes at> wrote:
> 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.

Functionality starts with being able to identify something in a language.
Only when this is achieved you can consider translation,
internationalisation and spell checking for such a language. The tools that
are out there are really bad at allowing for the support of many languages.

When we can convince the tool makers that they ALWAYS enter the language
code as part of the meta data of a document and, when they were to allow for
all the linguistic entities that are recognised we would have a much rosier

> 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 do not care why should we care for codes for  English of the
Romantic era, the Elizabethan era. These people are dead !!

> 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.

Your argument is as good as mine.. Why should I care .. what is in there for
me.. However I do care that you get it right. I do object to your dismissing
the needs that exist for relevancy in the implementation of standards. I
think you do the work done a disservice.

> 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.

I have Wikipedia to help me out. There is this movie about a "beautiful

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.

I have my background in computing... Really many people in this field do not
care at all about standards. One reason is that many standards are only
available at a fee another is that not all Standards are considered equally.
I seriously doubt that we do that well.

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