pinyin (and wadegile) request has gotten derailed

Randy Presuhn randy_presuhn at
Tue Sep 16 06:29:49 CEST 2008

Hi -

> From: "CE Whitehead" <cewcathar at>
> To: <ietf-languages at>
> Sent: Monday, September 15, 2008 3:52 PM
> Subject: pinyin (and wadegile) request has gotten derailed
> Now for my questions:
>  1.  How different is the Tongyong Pinyin romanization (the alternate
> Taiwanese romanization) of Mandarin from the Hanyu Pinyin romanization of Mandarin?

About as different as Pinyin and Wade-Gile.

> 2.  And how different is Tibetan Pinyin from Hanyu Pinyin?

It's like asking how different Spanish orthography is from Italian orthography,
and whether variants of the two languages should consequently have a common
subtag because their orthographies have some features in common.

>  (Looking quickly online I could only see about five unique letters in Tibetan Pinyin:  lh gy ky ny ng.

There is also at least one vowel not present in Mandarin.

>  I see no problem with having to use a meta-content description tag to distinguish
> Tibetan from Hanyu pinyin until [cmn] and other codes become available)

The whole point of language tagging is distinguishing languages and their
important variants.  To do things which would obscure the distinction between
two indisputably distinct languages would be counterproductive.

> (Alas, since Tongyong Pinyin and Hanyu Pinyin are both for Mandarin, ISO 639-3
> codes will not help to distinguish these two if they need to be distinguished with
> something other than a description in a meta tag.  That's the only problem I can
> foresee with lumping the two together for now.)

This is a strong argument for *not* merging the two.
> Reading online I understand that Cantonese Pinyin is quite distant (correct me if I'm wrong)
> from Hanyu Pinyin --


> and its name for alphabet is even pronounced a bit differently than in Mandarin--
> so maybe it would be best not to include that romanization in the scope of this subtag.

Agreed.  I think your points are strong arguments that both
   (1) -pinyin variant subtag most useful if it identifies a specific language, not multiple ones
   (2) -pinyin variant subtag most useful if it identifies a specific orthography, not a bunch of
        more-or-less related ones.


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