Valencian Language Tag registration request

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Jun 19 19:29:30 CEST 2009

Lang Gérard scripsit:

> 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 ?

"Wu" is the modern Mandarin, the name of the kingdom occupying
Southeastern China during the 3rd century of the Common Era.  I don't
know exactly when, or by whom, "Wu" was applied to the language spoken
in Zhejiang province, southern Jiangsu province, and parts of other
provinces, but surely it was by a professional linguist, whether Chinese
or not.

> 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 ?).

Mandarin itself is not particularly dialectally diverse, not much more
so than French.  For political reasons, however, all the languages of
the Sinitic family are lumped as "Chinese", though they are jointly as
diverse as the Romance family.  (Mandarin itself, like French, is the
most-different member of its family.)

There are no standard ways to write other Sinitic languages.  Some have
their own romanizations, more or less widely used.  It is also possible
to read written Mandarin using the pronunciation and lexis of another
language, which is an artificial exercise about like reading written
French with Spanish words.

Again for political reasons, there are several autonyms for Mandarin:
in the People's Republic, it is called "Putonghua" (the Common Language);
in Taiwan, "Guoyu" (the Official, or Public, Language).  It can also
be called "Beifanghua" (the Northern Local Language), in its role as the
local language of Northern and Southwestern China rather than as a standard

Babies are born as a result of the              John Cowan
mating between men and women, and most
men and women enjoy mating.                     cowan at
    --Isaac Asimov in Earth: Our Crowded Spaceship

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