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

Lang Gérard gerard.lang at insee.fr
Wed Sep 10 16:24:42 CEST 2008

Dear Doug Ewell,

1-I fully understand what you write, and my proposition concerning "Ainou-QX" was for fun and to create an utilisation for the region code "QX" for Pacific Zone.
I remain very anxious that the introduction of (country name) inside a "language tag" is a dangerous precedent, apt to create political difficulties, specially in the case we are now discussing between Russia and Japon in the region of Kuril Islands. 

2-Even if we (try to) pretend that political consideration are not to be taken care of, when coding language names or tagging languages, this is certainly not completely true.
Because languages are essentially social, cultural, ethnical, communitarian and ultimately political phenomenons (as is particularly well demonstrated by the title "Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities", the masterpiece of David DALBY that is referenced inside ISO 639-5, but not inside ISO 639-3), so that language names, like country names (think to "Macedonia"), can become political stakes.

3-For example, the language name "Letzebuergesh" that was not inside ISO 639 (1988), but was created inside ISO 639-2 (1998) [ltz] and simultaneously  inserted inside ISO 639-1 [lb; 10/08/1998] is clearly a somewhat artificial  political invention to become the official language of Luxembourg. This language was not given as an official language of the European Community, when created in 1958. And nowadays, European Union has 27 country members and 23 official languages, that are all official languages of at least one country member, with the only exception of Letzebuergesh.
The same could be said for Moldavian, created as officiel language of Moldova, or more recently for Montenegrin, created as official language of Montenegro.
The case of Serbo-Croat (sh), that was inside ISO 639 (1988), was deprecated by ISO 639/RA-JAC in 2000, was regenerated inside ISO 639-1 (1998) and one more time deprecated by ISO 639/RA-JAC in 2005 (but was never integrated inside ISO 639-2)  is a particularly illuminating example on this question.
As is the fact that ISO 639/RA-JAC recently (28/06/2008) deprecated the ISO-639-2B code elements of Croatian (scr) and Serbian (sc ), to be replaced by the corresponding ISO 639-2T counterparts (hrv) and (srp), after an official joint letter of both National Bibliothecs and National Standardization Institutes to ISO Central Secretariat and to ISO 639-2/RA clearly explaining that "scr" and "scc" had been built upon "Serbo-Croatian-Roman" and "Serbo-Croatian-Cyrillic", a no more convenient situation.

Concerning varieties of arabic languages, ISO 639-3 classification is, no doubt, well motivated, but not alone.
For example, the document "Scriptures of the World", published in 1994 by "United Bible Societies", that seems to be an important source for Ethnologue, retained:
-Algerian arabic;
-Chadian arabic;
-Egyptian arabic;
-Judaeo-Tunisian arabic;
-Lebanese arabic;
-North African arabic;
-Palestinian arabic;
-Sudan arabic;
-Southern Sudan arabic;
-Tunisian arabic.

Bien cordialement.

Gérard LANG

-----Message d'origine-----
De : ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no] De la part de Doug Ewell
Envoyé : mercredi 10 septembre 2008 14:54
À : ietf-languages at iana.org
Objet : Re: ON LANGUAGE NAMES /// RE: Results of Duplicate Busters Survey#2//Ainu

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 Japan.

Doug Ewell  *  Thornton, Colorado, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14 http://www.ewellic.org http://www1.ietf.org/html.charters/ltru-charter.html
http://www.alvestrand.no/mailman/listinfo/ietf-languages  ^

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