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

John Cowan cowan at
Sun Dec 13 20:22:12 CET 2009

Randy Presuhn scripsit:

> > Only a few of the 639-3 retired codes have this problem.  Almost all
> > of them represent either splits (multiple languages were incorrectly
> > treated as dialects of the same language) or mergers (dialects of
> > a single language were incorrectly treated as multiple languages).
> This last case is, absent appropriate variant subtags, effectively a
> case of "identical semantics", inasmuch as whatever the difference
> was, it was felt to be insignificant for purposes of 639-3.

Saying that two codes represent the same *language* does not mean they
have the same *denotation*.  Consider the case of Musi 'mui', Lematang
'lmt', Palembang 'plm', Penesak 'pem', and Rawas 'rws'.  These are
distinct varieties spoken along the Musi River in Sumatra, and were
originally listed as distinct languages.

Further evidence shows that they are reasonably mutually intelligible, so
the codes 'lmt', 'plm', 'pem', and 'rws' were retired in favor of using
'mui' alone.  However, the four codes still mean what they meant before --
"Retired code elements remain part of the code set and retain their
identifier *and denotation*" (emphasis added).

So 'lmt' still means Lematang, although that now counts as a dialect
rather than a language; however, 'mui' has had its denotation widened,
so it is not possible in 639-3 to discriminate between Musi the dialect
and Musi the language.  (In other cases, new codes have been created,
or a code has been promoted to macrolanguage scope.)

Her he asked if O'Hare Doctor tidings sent from far     John Cowan
coast and she with grameful sigh him answered that
O'Hare Doctor in heaven was. Sad was the man that word  cowan at
to hear that him so heavied in bowels ruthful. All
she there told him, ruing death for friend so young,    James Joyce, Ulysses
algate sore unwilling God's rightwiseness to withsay.   "Oxen of the Sun"

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