Tracey, Niall niall.tracey at
Thu Sep 25 12:40:57 CEST 2008

From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: 25 September 2008 08:45
To: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion
Subject: Re: Pinyin

>> That they are substantially similar in character, forming a family of 
>> related orthographies, and that it is unnecessary to provide 
>> individual subtags for them.


To us the differences seem minor as all pinyins fall far outside of our "western" frames of reference.

But the more familiar something is to the observer, the more the differences are exaggerated. Conversely, the difference is massively de-emphasised when both are unfamiliar. Remember that many white people can't tell the difference between (for example) Chinese, Thai and Japanese people despite a massive difference in phenotype.

What you perceive as a logical generalisation, the native speakers may see as a racist generalisation.

Would you be happy if Danish, Swedish and Norwegian shared a single top-level "Scandinavian" tag because a few Chinese intellectuals noted that they "are substantially similar in character" and "form a family of related languages"? Because what you're proposing is not radically different from this.


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