Adding variant subtags 'aluku' and 'nduyka' and 'pamaka' fordialects

Phillips, Addison addison at
Fri Aug 21 16:23:43 CEST 2009

That's easy to (try to) address: Descriptions are not immutable and you can try to register a fix. However, as a registry user, I find it confusing and odd when the names used in one place don't coincide with those elsewhere.

Addison Phillips
Globalization Architect -- Lab126

Internationalization is not a feature.
It is an architecture.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Pascal Vaillant
> Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 2:36 AM
> To: ietf-languages at
> Subject: Re: Adding variant subtags 'aluku' and 'nduyka' and
> 'pamaka' fordialects
> >
> > One thing that bothers me: the Description of 'djk' is "Aukan".
> Ethnologue, at least,
> > doesn't mention "Busi Nenge Tongo", at least by that spelling (it
> does mention Aluku
> > and Boni, though). I don't pretend to know what any of these
> language are, but it would
> > probably make sense to use the same description here and in 'djk'
> or consider adding
> > more Description fields to 'djk'
> >
> > Thus, let me suggest that the record could be:
> >
> > File-Date: 2009-08-27
> > %%
> > Type: variant
> > Subtag: aluku
> > Description: Aluku dialect
> > Description: Boni dialect
> > Added: 2009-08-27
> > Prefix: djk
> > Comments: Aluku (which is sometimes called Boni) is a specific
> dialect of
> >   Aukan (djk), also called "Busi Nenge Tongo", an English-based
> Creole
> >   continuum in eastern Suriname and western French Guiana.
> > %%
> >
> >
> I very strongly oppose to this last suggestion.
> As I said in the initial request form:
> January/008780.html
> "the [Ethnologue - aka ISO 639-3] language code -somewhat
> inappropriately-
> refers to the whole language by the name of its most important
> variant",
> which means that (to put it again very explicitly), Aluku and
> Pamaka are
> not *dialects of Ndyuka*, but that Aluku, Ndyuka and Pamaka are
> closely
> related dialects of the same language continuum.
> (Recall that this is not a statement from me as an individual
> person, but
> that I send the request on behalf of a research group in
> linguistics
> specialized in the area).
> I understand perfectly Mr Phillips' point, which is a quite logical
> one:
> as a matter of fact, most people, when deciding which tag to use,
> refer
> (1) to ISO-639-3 to check the presence and meaning of a language
> tag, and
> (2) to the IANA language subtag registry to check the availability
> and
> meaning description of a proper subtag; so the issue of the cross
> consistency of both registers is an important one.
> However, I feel that this consistency issue should not in any case
> be managed
> in disregard to accuracy of description. In the present case,
> stating that
> "Aluku [resp. Pamaka] is a dialect of Ndyuka" would be a blatant
> distortion
> of the facts. To be more precise: no linguist knowledgeable in this
> area,
> and no native speaker of any of the three variants, would agree
> with the
> description, such formulated. It would be felt like something
> comparable
> (in respectable proportions) to saying that Croatian is a dialect
> of Serbian,
> instead of saying that they both belong to a common language
> continuum.
> A point remains: it is true that Ethnologue has an entry for Ndyuka
> and
> not for the two others (am I the only one in this list aware that
> Ethnologue
> has some inaccuracies, inconsistencies, or incomplete descriptions?
> I could
> name a few others in my area ;-)). It is, very simply probably, due
> to the
> fact that Ndyuka was the first one to be described, which is in its
> turn
> probably connected to the fact that it is the dialect with the most
> speakers.
> I mentioned that in my original post as a problem to try to solve
> later, by
> writing to SIL/ISO-639-3 R.A. to suggest a change in the tag
> meaning description.
> This is a not-so-urgent and long process, and we are aware that
> even if the
> tag meaning description finally gets to change in ISO-639,
> introducing a new
> 3-letter mnemonic is an ordeal, as well as a very symbolic issue on
> which we
> do not wish to cling (many languages have mnemonics which refer to
> an old or
> partial denomination anyway, and people don't do a fuss about it).
> At present, we need the three tags for digital corpora, and we feel
> (after
> due discussion with colleagues who are specialists of the said
> dialects),
> that the situation is best solved by adding three variant subtags
> in the
> IANA registry, rather than by trying to register Aluku and Pamaka
> as separate
> language entries in ISO-639-3. As a matter of fact, the degree of
> similarity/divergence is best described at the language/dialect
> level
> than at the metalanguage/language level (judging by comparisons
> with
> other attested examples). So we can put up with the slight,
> temporary,
> inaccuracy of saying that "Aluku [resp. Ndyuka] is a dialect of
> Busi Nenge
> Tongo [djk]", when a lookup in ISO-639-3 at the present time yields
> "djk = Aukan/Nduka", but it is not a good solution to the problem
> to
> say that "Aluku is a dialect of Ndyuka". By the way, this would
> lead us
> to state, symmetrically, that "Ndyuka is a dialect of Ndyuka".
> We should try to make the tags fit the reality, not the other way
> around.
> Best regards,
> Pascal Vaillant
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