Addition request: alsatian

Doug Ewell dewell at
Fri Jan 11 06:47:51 CET 2008

Combining several response into one post...

Stéphane Bortzmeyer <bortzmeyer at nic dot fr> wrote:

>> *why* Alsatian content needs to be tagged separately from gsw.
> ...
> A second issue is that Alsatian speakers do not think of themselves as 
> speaking "Alemannic" and that the idea of using gsw alone may be 
> difficult to "sell" to these people.

This may be a good reason to add another Description field to 'gsw', 
which can then be used with 'FR', so long as the additional Description 
is not seen as narrowing the scope.  I don't see how it could be, since 
ISO 639 refers to "Catalan; Valencian" even though (as we have seen) at 
least some people consider Valencian a dialect of Catalan.

I'm not convinced this is a good reason to add a variant.

Mark Davis <mark dot davis at icu dash project dot org> replied:

> We are tagging languages, not names of languages.  The fact that some 
> people call a language, dialect, or variant by a different name 
> doesn't justify having a variant subtag.

While I understand Michael's response to this, I think Mark's point 
(echoed in Peter's reply) was that this particular application of ISO 
639 does not code the same thing twice just because it has two names. 
Spanish speakers don't call their language "Spanish" and they don't call 
it "Castilian," they call it "español" or "castellano," but there is 
(and should be) only one subtag for these four names.  ISO 639 has a 
single alpha-2 code element encompassing the first two names, which we 
use as a subtag.  We could potentially add the other two names.

Karen Broome <Karen underscore Broome at spe dot sony dot com> wrote:

> One difference between the Valencian variant tag and Alsatian is that 
> the region of Valencia could not be indicated with an ISO 3166 country 
> code.  France can be represented by one of these codes.

I agree that this is a fundamental difference.  In the Valencian case, 
the variant subtag 'valencia' can really be thought of a pseudo-region 
subtag for the Comunidad Valenciana region.  This isn't needed for 
Alsace unless some other Alemannic dialects are commonly associated with 
this or other regions of France.

Addison Phillips <addison at yahoo dash inc dot com> wrote:

> One resolution to the conundrum of Karen's request would be:
> Now: insert a comment into the 'gsw' record like this:
> Comment: This language is also use in the Alsace region of France, 
> where it is referred to as Alsatian.
> Later, if ISO acts in a manner consistent with changing the 
> description, add a Description field saying 'Alsatian' and remove the 
> comment. Note that "acts in a manner..." may include not adding the 
> description officially to ISO 639.
> If, for some reason, Alsatian turns out to be a regional dialect of 
> 'gsw' and if evidence is presented here that "gsw-FR" is insufficient 
> to represent that dialect, register Stephane's variant (and remove the 
> comment).

I support this approach.  I really don't see how we can go wrong with 
it, since comments and even descriptions can be deleted if desired.

Doug Ewell  *  Fullerton, California, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14  ˆ

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