Suggestion: registration of variant subtags for Aluku, Ndyuka, and Pamaka (Suriname/French Guiana English-based Creoles)

Doug Ewell doug at
Fri Jan 23 15:14:21 CET 2009

Pascal Vaillant <pascal dot vaillant at guyane dot univ dash ag dot fr> 

> We would like to suggest the registration of three "variant" language 
> subtags, for the ALUKU, NDYUKA and PAMAKA dialects, which are 
> English-based Creoles mainly spoken in the Eastern part of Suriname 
> and the Western part of French Guiana (South America).  They may all 
> be considered variants of a same linguistic system, the "businenge 
> tongo" (see below a more detailed explanation).

In principle I don't have any problem with these, if they really are 
dialects and not discrete languages.  If they could be considered 
languages, it would be better to propose them to ISO 639-3 first.

The scholarship and attention to detail on these requests is excellent, 
and I appreciate it.

>      Description: Aluku variant of the Busi Nenge Tongo Creole
> ...
>      Comments: Aluku (sometimes called Boni), dialect of the
>       "Busi Nenge Tongo" English-based Creole continuum in the
>       Eastern Suriname and Western French Guiana

It's not necessary to use the Comments field to provide a longer 
description of the language variety.  Comments should be used when there 
is a reasonable chance that without them, knowledgeable people will not 
understand how to use the subtag.  The proposed Description fields seem 
adequate and people can always consult the registration forms (which are 
publicly archived by IANA) if they need extended bibliographic 
information.  I suggest deleting these comments, and adding additional 
Description fields to capture alternative names like "Boni" if desired.

Stéephane Bortzmeyer <bortzmeyer at nic dot fr> replied:

> I note a small problem: "djk" is not currently in the Language Subtag 
> Registry. Since it was introduced by ISO 639-3, it will arrive only 
> after the implementation of "RFC 4646 bis". The draft RFC is currently 
> past Working Group Last Call and should arrive at the IESG "soon"

I wouldn't want to promise "soon" to anyone.  The pace of action within 
the LTRU group, already slow, has tapered off dramatically in the past 
month, due in part to new IETF regulations that expand and complicate 
the legal responsibilities of RFC authors.

> so may be the best course of action is to discuss the proposal, 
> accept/revise/reject/approve it and, if approved, to wait for the new 
> registry before actually registering it?

In recent months we decided to defer questions about adding additional 
Description fields to as-yet non-existent language subtags ('pes' and 
'prs' in one case, and 'mfe' in another) until those subtags are in the 
Registry.  We can talk about these three proposals now -- it's not as if 
the list is swamped with other items -- but there is no action to be 
taken unless and until RFC 4646bis and 4645bis are approved.

It is important to remember that variant subtags are registered against 
language subtags in the Language Subtag Registry, not against ISO 639 
code elements.

Doug Ewell  *  Thornton, Colorado, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14  ˆ

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