Criteria for languages?

Peter Constable petercon at
Thu Dec 3 04:20:28 CET 2009

I don't disagree to a feeling that this is overkill. For that matter, making Malay a macrolanguage (done before day 1) felt like serious overkill. But the problem arises because there is legacy that has not worked in ways that allow us to keep things as simple and sensible as we'd like while maintaining compatibility with that legacy.

On a related note: I dug out my hard copy of the MARC Language Code List from 2003 (version 21), and it did _not_ include Latgalian. So, apparently MARC started using "lav" for Latgalian more recently than that.


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Randy Presuhn
Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 12:28 PM
To: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Criteria for languages?

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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