[OT] Re: [Ltru] UNGEGN definitions and UNICODe Glossary of terms
duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
Mon Oct 6 12:09:34 CEST 2008
[co-chair hat on]
Unless you have a concrete suggestion re. one of the two
LTRU documents being worked on, please refrain from cc'ing
ltru at ietf.org (or at least mark your postings with [OT]
(off topic)). Thanks!
[I'm not responsible for ietf-languages at iana.org.]
See below for a different interpretation re. sign languages.
At 17:27 08/10/06, Lang G$BqS(Bard wrote:
>Dear John Cowan,
>5-Coming back to the proper interpretation in french of the english word
>"language", I verified that from the beginning (Recommendation ISO 639
>[November 1967] "Symbols for Languages, Countries and Authorities//
>Indicatifs de LANGUES, de pays et d'autorit$BqT(B", and with strictly no
>exception, ISO 639 systematically translated the english word "Language" by
>the french word "langue" and not by "langage". This is also the case for
>UNGEGN's Manual M58, that never uses the french word "langage".
>So, I have absolutely no doubt that "langue" is the proper french
>interpretation for "Language" inside ISO 639, as the general title of this
>standard and as UNGEGN interpretation both prove.
>And I maintain that, under this clear interpretation, "Sign languages"
>should not be taken inside ISO 639.
[technical hat on]
I think it's very easy to come up with a different interpretation.
[For the sake of exposition, I'm assuming that the documents were
translated from English to French, but much of the stuff below also
works in other scenarios.]
When translating from English to French, 'langue' seemed the most
obvious and precise term, and the translator simply either forgot
about the existence of sign languages or checked the then-current
actual list and didn't find any.
The ideal thing to happen when a standard gets translated is that
the translation detects some ambiguity. This could have happened
in this case, the French translator asking back "Is this supposed
to include sign languages or not; I have to know that in order to
be able to translate correctly." As a result, there should have
been some explicit text saying either that sign languages are
included or excluded, which I guess doesn't exist.
I think it's inappropriate, in this case, to conclude from the
French translation 'langue' that this excludes sign languages.
The chance that this translation was in essence the result of
an oversight (not to blame the translator; it's essentially an
oversight by everybody involved) is in my opinion at least as big,
and leads to the (in my opinion) much more desirable result of
including sign languages.
>This is also reinforced by the fact that no "Sign Language" was present
>inside the publications of ISO 639 (1988) or ISO 639-2 (1998), or even ISO
That may explain the choice of word by the translator, but doesn't
prove any intent of coverage.
>But, a collective "Sign Languages", with alpha-3 code element
>"sgn" was added by ISO 639/RA-JAC inside ISO 639-2 on 2000-02-18 only, with
>no corresponding alpha-2 code element.
>This addition does not seem in line with the scope of ISO 639-2, whose "1
>Scope" writes :
> " This part of ISO 639 provides two sets of three-letter alphabetic codes
>for the representation of names of languages, one for TERMINOLOGY
>applications, and the other for BIBLIOGRAPHIC applications...."
>Moreover, ISO 639-5 (2008), that also uses "familles de langues" and
>"groupes de langues", recognizes "sgn" as a group of languages, so that
>ideally "sgn" should be suppressed inside ISO 639-2 to be only mentionned
>inside ISO 639-5.
I guess ideally, yes, but apparently the need to code sign languages
was so strong (at a time when 639-5 didn't exist yet) that the relevant
committees ignored this "detail". This may be taken as strong evidence
that once the parties involved got aware of sign languages, they
really thought they should be covered.
>And in this case, there would be strictly no mention of
>any form of "Sign languages" inside ISO 639-1 or ISO 639-2.
That would make the French translation more 'correct' on paper,
but it's still not clear whether it would match the (original) intent.
>"L$B_(Bo$B(Bil n'y a pas de loi,
>Il y a quand m$BsN(Be la conscience"
> Publilius Syrus
> (1er si$BoD(Ble avant J.-C.)
>De : ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no
>[mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no] De la part de John Cowan
>Envoy$Bq(B: vendredi 3 octobre 2008 17:21
>$B%?(B : CE Whitehead
>Cc : ietf-languages at iana.org; ltru at ietf.org
>Objet : Re: [Ltru] Ltru Digest, Vol 44, Issue 15
>CE Whitehead scripsit:
>> However, "le tresor de la langue francaise" online
>> (http://atilf.atilf.fr/tlf.htm) seems to largely agree with your
>> definition of "langue" -- as something pertaining to the "tongue" or
>> to things that remind one of a "tongue" (such as a "the tongue of a
>Etymology is not a key to meaning. "Verbal communication" is communication
>in words, and although sign languages don't involve the tongue, they
>definitely have words.
>John Cowan cowan at ccil.org http://ccil.org/~cowan
>Nobody expects the RESTifarian Inquisition! Our chief weapon is
>surprise ... surprise and tedium ... tedium and surprise ....
>Our two weapons are tedium and surprise ... and ruthless disregard for
>unpleasant facts.... Our three weapons are tedium, surprise, and ruthless
>disregard ... and an almost fanatical devotion to Roy Fielding....
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#-#-# Martin J. Du"rst, Assoc. Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
#-#-# http://www.sw.it.aoyama.ac.jp mailto:duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
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