ID for language-invariant strings

Peter Constable petercon at
Mon Mar 17 21:34:14 CET 2008

Some clarifications wrt my specific application scenario: the strings are not intended to be presented to users as a fallback, they are intended for programmatic usage. That said, some application could still choose to use this form of the font-family name to present to users as a fallback.

So, we still have three sets of opinion on how to tag. Let me ask a different question: do people think there should be a single convention to be used for the kind of scenario I’ve described, or should the be left to be determined by application developers?


From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mark Davis
Sent: Monday, March 17, 2008 1:16 PM
To: Randy Presuhn
Cc: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: ID for language-invariant strings

I agree with you that

> However, for most of the examples it seems disingenuous to claim the
> data is not linguistic in nature.  These are cases where we have stuff
> that clearly *is* language in that in conveys meaning, but it doesn't entirely
> "play by the rules" that apply to material that is *in* a particular
> language....

This is different from where I have a part number, or an internal code like "zh", where having the language value be "No linguistic content" is perfectly fine.

> "und" seems wrong to me - it's not that we aren't able to figure out
> what language this stuff is "in".

I disagree about 'und'. I don't like a proliferation of codes where one works fine.

Type: language
Subtag: und
Description: Undetermined
Added: 2005-10-16

"und" means "undetermined". Not "cannot figure out what language this stuff is in", not "cannot be determined", just "undetermined". That is about as neutral as you can be.

If I have a language-neutral string like "Arial", that is to be presented to users as the name of a font, it certainly has linguistic content. It is not an arbitrary part number like SN305-SV, is not being presented as an internal code; it is being presented to users as a fallback name, in case there is no translation/transliteration into the user's language. I don't see how it is inappropriate to say that the language value is Undetermined.

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