ISO 639 name change: Songhai languages

Don Osborn dzo at
Tue Jan 9 01:44:29 CET 2007

John Cowan winndi:
> Kent Karlsson scripsit:
> > > This is exactly the sort of evidence that would persuade 639-3/RA
> to
> > > add a new macrolanguage.
> >
> > No, why? Keyboard layouts is quite out of scope for that.
> I wasn't speaking about the keyboard layout per se, but rather the fact
> that for certain purposes the Fula, Fulfulde, and Pulaar languages are
> treated as a single language named "Fula".
> That is the sort of thing that makes a macrolanguage designation
> sensible.

By way of explanation, the orthographies used by Fula and varieties thereof
are set at the country level, and have no relation to the linguistic
divisions in Ethnologue (or for that matter other scholars). A country may
by virtue of its borders, group and split languages as defined by Ethnologue
& 639-3, but one orthography will cover all varieties in that country and
not necessarily be the same as its neighbor. As it happens, these
orthographies are quite well harmonized with only a few minor differences.

The keyboard example comes in since Tavultesoft referenced linguistic
divisions from Ethnologue rather than country specifications of a larger
grouping (ff in this case) 

Often a country will decide on a certain approach to the orthography of a
particular language based on history or considerations of alphabets used for
other indigenous languages of its population. I think this kind of situation
is actually common in Africa if you are talking about alphabets and
keyboards. Macrolanguage thus facilitates making the country level
distinctions for orthography and locales; language (per Ethnologue)
facilitates text or at least more complex texts. (That's a broadbrush
statement, but is generally true, from what I see.)

So, to say a Keyman keyboard like the AFRO one is appropriate for the
Fulfulde of Western Niger (fuh) is not really accurate or helpful. Anything
that is good for the west is good for the east (fuq) and you'd be better off
referring to just Fula macrolanguage (a locale would be ff-NE). And as far
as keyboards for that language go, they would probably cover several country
locales, but that is getting offtopic again...

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