Criteria for languages

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Mon Dec 14 21:16:56 CET 2009

Hi, at first glance, I do not favor treating as extended languages any but those languages that essentially shared a single written form (as is the case with the [zh] group, the [ar] group; I am not sure this is the case with North and South Uzbek however ??? [but I could not make out the writing systems used in South Uzbek from the data at ethnologue--]).
So, I am not sure that either the Lithuanian-Samogitian pair or the Latvian-Latgalian pair should be treated as extended languages of the relevant macro-language anymore than [ekk] [vro] pair,
but as has been pointed out, there does not seem to be a standard criteria for treating a language as an extended language,
and in fact John is right, it could be that someone requesting a page in Latgalian would be perfectly happy to be served one in Latvian and would have no problems deciphering the Latvian page--

but making these extended languages would be at odds with what happened with [vro] and [ekk] and as Doug notes, we can't go back and change that.

John Cowan cowan at 
Fri Dec 11 23:27:59 CET 2009 

Previous message: Criteria for languages 

>CE Whitehead scripsit:

>> However, on a quick check, I note that [vro] was not made an extension
>> language anyway it seems (??  but I am only basing this on Richard
>> Ishida's list of macrolanguages

>It wasn't, and it's too late now.  IMHO it should have been.
>> I did not get an accurate count but well over 100 of these are sign
>> languages  (what these have in common is they all use signs--I guess
>> that's something of a common encoding system though the signs vary?);

>> The reasons for treating sgn as a macrolanguage are historical.
Yes, I've been informed of this previously; I assume that making these extended languages allows all of these to be tagged with [sgn] as a prefix--so as to reflect how they were tagged prior to the creation of the various individual sign language codes??

>> the next largest group seems to be a family in the Austronesian language
>> group with the prefix ms, followed by the various Arabic languages
>> (prefix [ar]),  the various Chinese languages (prefix [zh]) (both
>> the Chinese and the Arabic are cases where the written forms of these
>> languages is generally about identical), 2 Indo-European languages from
>> India with the prefix [kok], North and South Uzbek,and Swahili .Best,

> ms = Malay, kok = Konkani.

> -- 
> John Cowan  cowan at

Peter Constable petercon at 
Thu Dec 10 02:33:42 CET 2009

> You're trying to think of why it would be useful to use extended language subtags* in some general sense. I was simply trying to account for how they arose and the pre-existing practice that led to them 
>- which didn't necessarily arise because it made particular sense.

> There were long discussions as 4646bis was worked on debating ways 
> in which extlang subtags might be / are / are not useful, 
> and there was no clear consensus on that topic. 

Sorry to hear the above,



C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at
> We'll see how eager people are to take that up again now.


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