The limit of language codes

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Tue Feb 20 19:50:47 CET 2007

>On 2/18/07, Lars Aronsson <lars at> wrote:
>>My current opinion, which might change any day, is that simple
>>time-less language codes are enough for my current needs.
>I can see a use behind detailed orthography tags for languages that
>have been through several distinct orthographies. But when I'm talking
>about Old Czech, for example, I'm not arguing for a new tag for a
>different orthography; I'm arguing for a new tag for a different
>I could argue that the functional distinction between English and
>Middle English is that anything in English an editor will publish in
>modernized spelling, whereas Middle English is translated for the
>modern reader. It's a bit of a circular argument, and Chaucer (1380,
>whereas modern English is considered 1450-1500) is published in both
>translation and modernized spelling, but Chaucer also used the London
>dialect that became modern standard English.The exact line doesn't
>matter a whole lot; I can imagine worlds where Chaucer is considered
>modern English or worlds where Shakespeare isn't, but there's a body
>of work in Middle English that's clearly distinct by any measure from
>modern English.

Well Middle English is readable,, and the original Chaucer say is often 
better than a translation.
(I've never looked twice at it translated and don't want to, but I know such 
texts are out there!), but it is certainly not modern.

Shakespeare's English still differs a bit though from Modern English,
and I can see the point of a specialized language subtag for texts where 
Shakespeare's original language has been preserved (some have been 
modernized; you are right, editors do that!) because that would let persons 
seeking such texts distinguish between a modernization and an original.

So if someone needs such a subtag and a description can be pinned down, I'm 
not going to deny it.

>When I'm arguing for Old Czech, I'm talking about the equivalent point
>in Czech, when editors and publishers wouldn't modernize the
>orthography because the vocabulary and grammar have drifted far enough
>to make it pointless. Even thought that definition won't be used, I'm
>sure there's a body of text for historic versions of many languages
>that by any standard clearly distinct from the modern form of the


--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at

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