Flavors of Hepburn (was: Re: Ietf-languages Digest, Vol 81, Issue 41)

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Sun Sep 27 19:16:07 CEST 2009

Mark Crispin <mrc plus ietf at panda dot com> wrote:

> Would your application be adversely impacted if it turned out that the 
> ultimate usage of the Hepburn tag became "something that is more or 
> less Hepburn" (with all of the variants therefore) and of the 
> kunrei-shiki tag became "something that is more or less kunrei-shiki" 
> (with all of the variants such as JSL, Nihon-shiki, etc.)?
> My prediction is that if you expect the Hepburn tag to be used only 
> for strictly compliant Hepburn (as defined by Hepburn) and the 
> kunrei-shiki tag to be used only for strictly compliant ISO 3602, you 
> will be disappointed.
> If, on the other hand, it's alright if the usage winds up being 
> generic, and that we call text Hepburn if it has "Fujitsu" and 
> kunrei-shiki if it has "Huzitu", then I see no problem.

I thought Frank's use cases were fairly clear and well-defined, that he 
expected 'hepburn' to apply simply to romanized text that was more like 
Hepburn than anything else, and that the purpose of 'heploc' was to pin 
it down to one specific, tightly defined flavor.

I would be surprised if anyone familiar with romanizations of Japanese, 
or any other Asian language, would expect a variant subtag referring to 
a particular romanization to apply only if the rules are followed 
precisely.  That would be like saying that "en-US" can apply only to 
"proper" American English as described in an authoritative, 
prescriptivist dictionary and not to any regional varieties, nor to 
non-standard grammar or spelling (such as "alright" :).

This is one reason I didn't want "ISO 3602" or similar to appear in the 
Description field.  Anyone familiar with these romanizations should be 
able to tell what is intended by "Hepburn romanization" or "Kunrei-shiki 
romanization," and should not be thrown off by additional specificity 
that might imply only perfectly transcribed text fits the subtag.

I think it is clear by now that only 'hepburn' and 'heploc' should be 
registered at this time, because some participants (not all) feel we 
should only register subtags for which there is a clear and present 
user-expressed need, and because Mark has expressed this concern over 
the continuum of romanizations.  We can always return to Kunrei-shiki 
and Nihon-shiki in the future, maybe the very near future, but debating 
them should not further delay registration of Frank's Hepburn subtags.

As a reminder to Frank and anyone else who wants to tag Hepburn: Use 
only the subtags that are necessary to convey what you need to convey. 
That is, if you really *need* to specify the LOC flavor of Hepburn, then 
use "ja-Latn-hepburn-heploc".  If you simply need to say that it's some 
kind of Hepburn -- even if it is, in fact, the LOC flavor -- then 
"ja-Latn-hepburn" is adequate.  And if you only need to say that it's 
romanized as opposed to written in native Japanese script, then 
"ja-Latn" is perfectly fine.

I will send 'hepburn' and 'heploc' to Michael, for forwarding to IANA, 
on or shortly after October 1.  No changes from the text in 
are currently indicated.

I do also think we should try to resolve the schism on this list between 
those who want to "tile the plane" and those who want to register only 
what the user's project needs right now.  We seem to get caught up in it 
every time we get a request, and it frustrates both list members and the 

Doug Ewell  |  Thornton, Colorado, USA  |  http://www.ewellic.org
RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14  |  ietf-languages @ http://is.gd/2kf0s ­

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