Request: Add retired tag "eml" to the IANA registry

Peter Constable petercon at
Fri Dec 11 23:07:53 CET 2009

On the one hand, while the denotations are now deemed null, someone may have used one of these ISO 639-3 IDs (before they were deprecated) with an assumed denotation that was not null. That is why that remain valid for use in applications of ISO 639-3.

On the other hand, they have not to date been valid for use in applications of BCP47 since they do not appear in the registry. We could apply a strict interpretation to say that we have no choice but to register them, though I'm not convinced we need to be bound by that interpretation. If the authors of our constitution had considered this scenario, they may well (and, I think, likely would) have chosen to explicitly leave out anything already deprecated at day 0.

IOW, I think we should feel free to choose whichever way we think makes best sense for users of BCP 47.


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of John Cowan
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 12:05 PM
To: Randy Presuhn
Cc: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Request: Add retired tag "eml" to the IANA registry

Randy Presuhn scripsit:

> The case you're pursuing is one of trying to figure out where a user 
> who has failed to use the registry might have mistakenly come up with 
> an erroneous subtag.  There may be applications where this might be a 
> worthwhile undertaking, but that's far outside the realm of 
> standardization, in my opinion.

The question is, though, whether we were right to exclude the retired codes (now that it's clearly established that they are not to be reused later) at all.  As I quoted earlier from ,

        Retired code elements remain part of the code set and retain
        their identifier and denotation.

Since we do not AFAICT have limiting language in RFC 5646 that says we can only register 639-3 codes in active status, it seems to me that we SHOULD and perhaps MUST register the retired codes, since they have the same denotations they had before their retirement.  I hesitate only in the case of the Group 1 (nonexistent language) codes, since their denotations are empty: still, there are only eight of them, and adding a comment would probably do the trick.

> The handling of similar cases has always been motivated by the desire 
> to provide compatibility with earlier versions of the BCP,

True, but not a counter to my argument above.

Henry S. Thompson said, / "Syntactic, structural,               John Cowan
Value constraints we / Express on the fly."                 cowan at
Simon St. Laurent: "Your / Incomprehensible
Abracadabralike / schemas must die!"
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