Principles of Operation

Kent Karlsson kent.karlsson14 at
Thu Jan 24 10:46:05 CET 2008

Karen Broome wrote:
> I don't know if this is like the issue of two languages 
> named "Flemish" or if these entries are describing unique regional 

"Two Flemish languages"? (Yes, I see that Ethnologue strangely hints
at that.) Hardly. Flemish isn't even one language. Flemish is a
(set of) dialect(s) of Dutch (see, esp. first bullet point re.
stanardised orthography). I don't think Flemish should have a
*language* code of its own.

> Do we need Ethnologue to clarify or is Ethnologue not considered 
> the authority -- yet?

I would be VERY careful to consider Ethnologue a reliable
authority -- yet.

Just looking at some languages I'm familiar with, it lists Scanian,
Dalecarlian, and Jamtska as "languages". Actually they are just
three of the many dialects of Swedish (a few more are listed in; 100+ dialects; depending
on your level of granularity, it is far from complete, alternatively
the major ones all have a few subdialect samples each). Fortunately,
those three dialects do NOT have a language code in 639-3.

Getting back to "Flemish", Ethnologue lists English and Frisian
as dialects of it. I guess you would all agree that that is not
the case...

And these are otherwise well-known and well-researched languages.
And still Ethnologue got it way wrong.

And I note that many language codes for 639-3 just got retired,
since they referred to non-existing languages (not just actually
being dialects, but truely non-existing, or is some cases duplicates).
Which might not be all that surprising as yet, given the scope 639-3.

		/kent k

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