Principles of Operation

Karen_Broome at Karen_Broome at
Thu Jan 24 21:37:18 CET 2008

I guess I wasn't precise enough in using the term "language" -- I meant 
linguistic entities. I previously asked if Flemish had a code in 639-3 and 
was told that "vls" was the ISO 639-3 code for Vlaams, which is apparently 
sometimes called Flemish. However, I was looking for a code that meant the 
Flemish dialect of Dutch. This was confusing and as a result, I gave some 
bad advice to a Digital Cinema project. I wasn't proposing that 
Dutch/Flemish be granted a language code.

Point taken on Ethnologue's authority. Thanks, Kent.


Karen Broome

"Kent Karlsson" <kent.karlsson14 at> 
01/24/2008 01:46 AM

<Karen_Broome at>
<ietf-languages at>
RE: Principles of Operation

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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