Progressing beyond borders?making subtags inclusive

Stephane Bortzmeyer bortzmeyer at
Mon Jan 7 08:40:17 CET 2008

On Fri, Jan 04, 2008 at 03:45:25PM +0000,
 Nicholas Shanks <contact at> wrote 
 a message of 150 lines which said:

> I feel that all dialects should have their own subtags, not just the
> ones that partizan individuals propose.

This is a bad start for the discussion. If you call each proposal
"partizan", we will soon go to flame wars...

> As a great example, there's a subtag for en-scouse but not one for
> yorkshire, geordie or brummie, because the guy that submitted the
> scouse request has a vested interest in his own dialect,

That's an extremely biased vision. The IETF have always worked on a
volunteer basis, which has the great feature that people championing a
protocol or a language know about it, they are not "forced" to promote
an unknown thing.

If I requested the registration of "alsatian" and not a general
registration of all alemannic dialects, it's because I know about this
dialect (or knows where to find information).

> nobody has bothered to register the others.

The IETF is volunteer work.

> I believe that having a subtag registered is at present too
> difficult 

I would partly agree (I wrote some of the texts on because I wanted to help registration
beginners) but only partly because registration of a subtag is a
serious matter (once a subtag, always a subtag, there is no way back)
and should not be done lightly.

> (requirement for dictionaries!? 

As mentioned already, there is no such requirment.

> I'm sure we can all agree on commonly recognised dialects for
> English, as it is a first langauge for many people on this list, and
> familiar for many others.

I am not sure you properly assert the amount of work it
means. Dialects are more complicated than languages since they are
never formally specified, they have fuzzy borders, etc.

I do not think there is an ISO-639-something on dialects and that's
for a good reason.

> For other languages compiling a list might involve asking a scholar
> for suggestions.

This would be a huge change from "Anyone can request a registration,
if he backs his request with serious facts" from "A committee playing
ISO-639, but without the resources of SIL". I'm note sure I would
approve it. But, anyway, this discussion belongs to the LTRU Working

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