Criteria for languages?

Mark Davis ☕ mark at
Wed Dec 2 02:03:58 CET 2009

Huh? We are discussing how people have tagged data in the past, in order to
determine whether something should be a macrolanguage or not.

When someone went to tag data, they looked at the registry (or at the ISO
standards, before the registry existed). The description IS what they found,
and that is the basis they used to tag. Some small percentage of
sophisticated users might have investigated further, but expecting any
sizeable percentage of users to do so is wishful thinking at best.

So, up to 2008:

   - How the heck do you expect someone to have magically realized that
   "German" *actually means* "Standard German".
   - And how the heck do you expect someone to have magically expect that
   "Arabic" *doesn't mean* "Standard Arabic"?


On Tue, Dec 1, 2009 at 16:43, John Cowan <cowan at> wrote:

> Mark Davis â?? scripsit:
> > Well, it *does* mean "German" and not "Standard German", according to us:
> >
> > %%
> > Type: language
> > Subtag: de
> > Description: German
> > Added: 2005-10-16
> > Suppress-Script: Latn
> We've been down this road before.  Descriptions are just labels, not
> necessary
> and sufficient characterizations.
> --
> John Cowan              cowan at<>
> Historians aren't constantly confronted with people who carry on
> self-confidently about the rule against adultery in the sixth amendment to
> the Declamation of Independence, as written by Benjamin Hamilton. Computer
> scientists aren't always having to correct people who make bold assertions
> about the value of Objectivist Programming, as examplified in the HCNL
> entities stored in Relaxational Databases.  --Mark Liberman
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