(iso639.2444) ISO 639 name change: Songhai languages

John Cowan cowan at ccil.org
Sat Jan 6 20:40:21 CET 2007

Christopher Fynn scripsit:

> bo Tibetan also covers many mutually unintelligible spoken 
> dialects/languages - however written Tibetan is the same no matter which 
> of the dialects the writer speaks - and this written Tibetan is quite 
> different than any spoken form of Tibetan.  

To anticipate events somewhat, 'bo' is defined as the 639-1 equivalent
of the 639-2/639-3 code 'bod', and 'bod' is defined by the Ethnologue
page at http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=bod labeled
"Central Tibetan".

So either you believe that the denotation of 'bo' is wider than it is,
or you believe that a macrolanguage should be introduced that will
encompass both the Central Tibetan language and some or all of the
19-member Central Tibetan group, the 53-member Tibetan group, or even
the 71-member Tibetish group (again, see Ethnologue).

> Unless we are working with speech to text, or something similar, in ICT 
> most of the time we are dealing with written languages. A question I 
> have is - are ISO 639 codes supposed to apply to written or to spoken 
> languages, or to both? If to both, does a distinction need to be made?

639-1/2 are mostly organized around written languages.  639-3 take the
spoken language as criterial, with accommodations made through the use
of macrolanguages.  639-6 will allow precise distinctions as well as
the use of cover terms.

A: "Spiro conjectures Ex-Lax."                  John Cowan
Q: "What does Pat Nixon frost her cakes with?"  cowan at ccil.org
  --"Jeopardy" for generative semanticists      http://www.ccil.org/~cowan

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