Valencian Language Tag registration request

Lang Gérard gerard.lang at
Fri Jun 19 17:11:19 CEST 2009

Dear John Cowan,

1-The case of a continuum of languages between Paris and Rome is very interesting, but how to determine in this case what is a language and what is a language name (but do not you yourself propose that the name of the geographical location where people speak this variant is a correct autonym to identify this variant ?).
2-Concerning the very interesting case of the Wu language, the fact is that we have a language name "Wu". If "Wu" is a representation of the way people speaking the "Wu" language consider this "Wu language", we certainly have an autonym, if not then what does "Wu" speak of and who invented this word ?
Concerning Mandarin, it seems that the script of this language is the same for everybody speaking this language, but that the difference of pronunciations are so vast that there is certainly no generalised vocal intercomprehension of this language (so, we could have a written autonym, but no real spoken aurtonym ?).

Bien cordialement.
Gérard LANG. 

-----Message d'origine-----
De : John Cowan [mailto:cowan at] 
Envoyé : vendredi 19 juin 2009 16:49
À : Lang Gérard
Cc : Peter Constable; ietf-languages at
Objet : Re: Valencian Language Tag registration request

Lang Gérard scripsit:

> In fact, what would mean a concept of language without having a 
> language name to identify the considered concept ?

It is quite common for minority communities to have no specific name for their own language; to refer to it as "our language", or by the name of their village.  It usually takes outside research to determine exactly where language boundaries actually lie in such situations, and of course the answer will never be perfect.  In terms of local varieties, there is no linguistic boundary between French and Italian; one can walk from Paris to Rome, avoiding cities, without ever encountering a place where people cannot understand the language of neighboring villages.

As an extreme case, the Wu language of China is spoken by approximately 80 million people, rather more than speak French.  However, almost none of them are aware of the fact.  They know that their local dialects are not the same as standard Mandarin and in fact are mutually unintelligible with it, and that they can understand people in other nearby cities more or less well.  However, the consciousness of Wu as a language is simply not present, even though by objective criteria Wu is as separate from Mandarin as Spanish is from French.

Well, I have news for our current leaders       John Cowan
and the leaders of tomorrow: the Bill of        cowan at
Rights is not a frivolous luxury, in force
only during times of peace and prosperity.
We don't just push it to the side when the going gets tough.  --Molly Ivins

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