Criteria for languages

Doug Ewell doug at
Thu Dec 10 05:04:16 CET 2009

CE Whitehead <cewcathar at hotmail dot com> wrote:

> However, what confuses me is why are some languages made extension 
> languages?
> It makes sense to me to make a language an extension language of a 
> macrolanguage if all the extension languages under that macrolanguage 
> are generally written more or less identically (as is the case for the 
> Chinese languages written in Chinese script; similarly in Arabic, 
> standard Arabic is the only written form).  Then it would make sense 
> to allow users to tag these languages using both the macro-language 
> code and the extension-language code--
> wherease if the languages appear different in writing, I don't see any 
> reason to tag them with anything but their own unique code, ever.

See for the RA's definition of 
"macrolanguage."  Note that the writing system issue you mentioned is 
one of the RA's considerations:

"There is a common written form used for multiple closely-related 
languages. For instance, multiple Chinese languages share a common 
written form."

The RA's criteria for macrolanguages are the only ones that matter, and 
while we can debate whether a certain language or set of languages meet 
the RA's criteria, I don't see the point in trying to develop our own 

Doug Ewell  |  Thornton, Colorado, USA  |
RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14  |  ietf-languages @ ­

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