Criteria for languages?

Randy Presuhn randy_presuhn at
Tue Dec 1 21:00:27 CET 2009

Hi -

> From: "Mark Davis ☕" <mark at>
> To: "Randy Presuhn" <randy_presuhn at>
> Cc: <ietf-languages at>
> Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 11:22 AM
> Subject: Re: Criteria for languages?
> It is the lack of a uniform policy that bothers me more than the particular
> case. Anything that is Walliserdeutsch right now would be either tagged "de"
> (because that was all that was available until gsw was encoded) or "gsw".
> Let's take precisely your wording and apply it to that case.
> If an application requires standard *Swiss German* and *Walliserdeutsch* to
> be treated as distinct
> languages, then clearly it would need to use the new subtag to identify
> standard
> Swiss German, since "gsw" would mean "any kind of *Swiss German*, including
> *Walliserdeutsch*".   This
> is a natural consequence of our "no narrowing" rules - all of the data which
> is
> currently precisely and accurately tagged as *Swiss German* would remain
> accurately
> tagged, though most would no longer be precisely tagged.  (Data for which
> the
> tagger was unable to make a determination whether it was *Swiss German* or *
> Walliserdeutsch*
> would remain precisely tagged.)  The assumption is that it is better to
> introduce
> a (potentially lingering) imprecision in the tagging of legacy data, rather
> than to
> cause any once-accurate tags on legacy data to become incorrect.
> If your reasoning is correct for Latvian, then it is also correct for Swiss
> German! If it is not correct for Swiss German, then it is not correct for
> Latvian.

It's not "my" reasoning.  It's a consequence of sticking to the rules established
in ltru.  However, there are crucial questions underlying both cases, for which
the respective answers may differ. The first group of questions is whether
Latgalian can *correctly* be tagged as "lav", whether Walliserdeutsch can
*correctly* be tagged as "de", and whether Walliserdeutsch can be *correctly*
tagged as "gsw".  The second group of questions is whether there is anything
approaching a "standard" "lav", "de", or "gsw".  In the last case, I'm pretty
sure the answer is "no such animal".


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