ON LANGUAGE NAMES /// RE: Results of Duplicate Busters Survey #2

Lang Gérard gerard.lang at insee.fr
Mon Sep 8 11:53:42 CEST 2008

I certainly cannot share this point of view.
Autonyms ( written directly with a variant of the Latin alphabet in their native script, or taken as romanized form of an autonym whose native script is not a variant of the Latin alphabet, or taken as an IPA phonetisation of the language name when the considering language has no script and is only a spoken language) are very certainly much more specific and identifying of the considered language name (because they are, in particular, the definitive proof for the existence and for the autonomy [also, of the self-denomination, "auto-nomination"] of the considered language) that possible french or english language names for the same languages. 
So, the consideration of autonyms gives a considerable separation and identification power for language names and the underlying language, that cannot be acheived by the approximation deriving from a french or english designation of the same entities.
The case that two autonyms could be identifiying the same language name, and the same underlying language, is certainly very infrequent and should be considered with many precautions.
Are you definitively certain that the native phonetisations of both Ainu variants you consider as two distinct language names are different ? If then, maybe the romanization of the chinese version could be changed as not to be identical with the japanese autonym.
Gérard LANG

-----Message d'origine-----
De : John Cowan [mailto:cowan at ccil.org] 
Envoyé : vendredi 5 septembre 2008 18:38
À : Lang Gérard
Cc : Michael Everson; ietflang IETF Languages Discussion
Objet : Re: ON LANGUAGE NAMES /// RE: Results of Duplicate Busters Survey #2

Lang Gérard scripsit:

> After such considerations, it would seem urgent to search for a 
> maximum of "original language names" or "indigenous language names"( 
> with a romanization if the script form ids not written with a variant 
> of the Latin alphabet, or a phonetisation by the International 
> Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) when the considered language has only spoken 
> form and no written form), so as to assure a maximum of security for 
> the identification, real existence and uniqueness of the considered 
> language
> (name) and a good capacity of choice for the alpha-3 code element to 
> be attributed to this ISO 639-3 entry.

Unfortunately, there is no particular reason why indigenous names should be unique, and we know that they are not.  The indigenous name used by speakers of the Ainu language of Japan is (in romanization) "Ainu"; the indigenous name used by an unrelated language of China is likewise "Ainu".  The English or French names are usually ambiguous *because* the indigenous names are.

In the last analysis, it is the encylopedic information at Ethnologue (pointed to by ISO 639-3) that guarantees the security of identification, real existence, and uniqueness of specific languages.

Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies!    John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org>
Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau,     http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau,
Und trank die Milch vom Paradies.            --Coleridge (tr. Politzer)

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