Criteria for languages?
randy_presuhn at mindspring.com
Mon Dec 7 06:08:38 CET 2009
> From: "CE Whitehead" <cewcathar at hotmail.com>
> To: <duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp>; <ietf-languages at iana.org>; <iso639-3 at sil.org>
> Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 3:47 PM
> Subject: Criteria for languages?
> For possible macrolanguages there's not only gem and de but also gmw.
As a germanist, I'd consider gem or gmw to rather inappropriate choices for
Walliserdeutsch. I believe de would also be wrong, because even though it is the
most likely fallback language choice, this is due to diglossia rather than a "variety of"
This is one of the situations where having a macrolanguage *per se* available
provides limited value. It's relatively easy for a speaker of German to say
"that sounds like gsw." And that's a useful bucket for classifying material.
However, there are a lot of mutually more-or-less incomprehensible varieties of gsw,
and a typical speaker of German (or even gsw) isn't necessarily going to be able
to tell you which of these a given sample of gsw is. (Rather like asking an
inexperienced American to identify the dialects of rural England.) This is
what makes having a gsw tag useful, not the availability of a form of gsw
that would serve the same function as zh-cmn. Knowing that these are
closely-related languages is interesting, but not always helpful. When
the need arises for a speaker of one communicate with a speaker of a
non-adjacent one, the likely choice will be de rather than gsw.
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