ID for language-invariant strings

Tracey, Niall niall.tracey at
Thu Mar 20 12:00:46 CET 2008

-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Peter Constable
> When it comes to family names (OT name ID 1 or name ID 16
> or name ID 21), though, these are generally linguistic.
> They may have some abbreviations, as in "Arno Pro Smbd
> SmText", or some non-linguistic qualifiers, as in
> "Blackletter 686 BT" ("BT" = Bitstream is a linguistic
> abbreviation, but "686" is non-linguistic).
> And there are the rare exceptions: in a sample of over
> 12000 fonts I'm looking at, there are about 95 (< 0.8%)
> that have purely-numeric family names. Generally,
> though, the names are linguistic.

But the point I'm trying to make is that while the data may usually be of a linguistic form, the *field* that you are entering the data into is non-linguistic. The table you showed us was a list of localised font names with the language of use as a key for lookup. The value you are querying here is not for use in any language

As this value is intended for non-linguistic use, I don't see a problem with ZXX.

It is entirely impossible when defining an arbitrary data field to guarantee it will never be contain linguistic content. A JPEG image could be linguistic content (eg a scan of a magazine article), or non-linguistic (eg a still life). Similarly a plain text field could contain a hex code or a linguistic sentence.

We don't need to know anything about the author's language to use the string as intended. I'd argue that the data as you have described is intrinsically arbitrary -- any linguistic content is extrinsic to the system. Hence from a system's point of view, the data is non-linguistic.

OK, so ZXX is defined as "No Linguistic Content" and I'm possibly overinterpreting this to "Non-linguistic Content", but without interpreting it this way there is no point in maintaining the ZXX tag.

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