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

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Wed Sep 10 14:54:25 CEST 2008

Lang Gérard wrote:

> In my opinion, "Ainou-QX" (covering all Ainou languages of the Pacific 
> Zone), "Ainu-JP" (covering  the Ainu language spoken in Japan), 
> "Ainu-RU-SHK" (covering the Ainu language spoken in Eastern Russia) 
> and "Aynu-CN" (covering the Aynu language spoken in China), would be 
> google and google times more adequate "Language Tags" that "Ainu 
> (Japan)" and "Ainu (China), that I find very dangerous.

You can always use a region subtag to qualify a particular language by 
regional usage, even a language whose Description field includes a 
country name in parentheses.  Thus you can say "ain-JP" or "ain-RU" if 
there is a need to distinguish between the versions of "Ainu (Japan)" 
used in Japan and Russia.  (Note that ISO 3166-2 code elements like 
'SHK' still cannot be used in language tags, for reasons or syntax and 
stability that I and others have already stated.)

But it would make no sense to create a tag for "all Ainou languages of 
the Pacific Zone" using any syntax.  The two "Ainu" languages are 
completely unrelated except for their coincidental names: "Ainu (China)" 
is a Turkic language while "Ainu (Japan)" is an isolate.  They have less 
in common than members of a macrolanguage or even a collection code, 
less in common than French and Italian.  One might as well create a tag 
for "all languages starting with the letter A."

The parenthesized country name in subtags like "Ainu (Japan)" 
distinguishes this language from others that happen to share its name. 
It says, "This is the 'Ainu' that is associated with Japan, not the one 
associated with China."  But it does not restrict the tag to usage in 

Doug Ewell  *  Thornton, Colorado, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14
http://www.alvestrand.no/mailman/listinfo/ietf-languages  ˆ

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list