Criteria for languages?

John Cowan cowan at
Tue Dec 1 19:53:10 CET 2009

Michael Everson scripsit:

> I do not believe that, erm, some "Lettish" is a "macrolanguage"  
> including Latvian and Latgalian.

Nevertheless, when people say "Latvian" (or "lav"), sometimes the
denotation includes only standard Latvian, and sometimes it includes
both standard Latvian and standard Latgalian.  

> If librarians tagged some Latgalian data with "the nearest thing" that  
> still does not mean that all Latvian-language data is broken.

No one suggests that it is.  Standard Latvian data can correctly continue
to be tagged "lav".

> If "lav" becomes a macrolanguage then to be precise all Latvian books
> will have to be re-tagged.

To be *maximally* precise, yes.  But maximal precision isn't always
desirable (or even available).  It often costs too much to achieve.
It's a lot easier to determine that the average price of a house in
Co. Mayo is about 25,000 euros than to get a figure correct down
to the last cent.

John Cowan  cowan at
Female celebrity stalker, on a hot morning in Cairo:
"Imagine, Colonel Lawrence, ninety-two already!"
El Auruns's reply:  "Many happy returns of the day!"

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