Criteria for languages?

Randy Presuhn randy_presuhn at
Wed Dec 2 21:27:37 CET 2009

Hi -

> From: "John Cowan" <cowan at>
> To: "Peter Constable" <petercon at>
> Cc: <ietf-languages at>; "John Cowan" <cowan at>
> Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 11:43 AM
> Subject: Re: Criteria for languages?
> >             2.  'Extlang' records SHOULD NOT be created for languages if
> >                 other languages encompassed by the macrolanguage do not
> >                 also include 'extlang' records.  
> I interpret the main clause in this sentence as applying if there are as yet
> no other co-encompassed languages; you and Addison interpret it as
> not applying in that case.  Consulting my local Talmudist produced a
> definite maybe.

Taken by itself the quoted text would avoid the situation where some,
but not all, of the languages encompassed by a given macrolanguage
would include 'extlang' records.  The sentence immediately following it
(not quoted) is instructive:

                For example, if a new
                Serbo-Croatian ('sh') language were registered, it would
                not get an extlang record because other languages
                encompassed, such as Serbian ('sr'), do not include one
                in the registry.

This leads to the question of whether such a situation could also be
resolved by adding extlang records for all those other languages,
thus satisfying the requirement.

What bothers me most about the Latvian case is that while it may 
have the same gestalt as zh, there is a huge difference in degree.
As I understand it, only a need to distinguish Latvian and Latgalian
has been identified, and there doesn't seem to be much expectation
for much else to be encompassed by a Latvian macrolanguage.
It seems that designating Latvian as a macrolanguage is serious
overkill in this situation, and that all would be better served by treating
Latgalian as a variant.  I'd love to hear from someone with first-hand
knowledge of these languages.


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