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

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Sun Sep 27 21:08:08 CEST 2009

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

> Past unpleasant experiences have lead me to believe that 
> specifications should say no more, and no less, than the concensus at 
> the time it is written.  If something is to be interpreted liberally, 
> it MUST say so; if something is to be interpreted strictly, it SHOULD 
> say so.

Well, that might be perceived as a point of disagreement.  It could be 
argued that "Hepburn romanization" is not sufficient to convey the 
meaning "any romanization of Japanese that fits the Hepburn model better 
than it fits other models," and that this needs to be explicitly spelled 
out in the Description field or in a comment.  I don't happen to agree, 
and in fact I would argue the reverse of what you wrote: the more 
strictly something is to be interpreted, the more normative the language 
needs to be.

> Don't expect people in the future to know what we intended.  Don't 
> even expect them to listen to any of us if we tell them.

Language tagging isn't for the utterly and completely clueless.  If some 
users interpret "Hepburn romanization" to mean precisely and only the 
system published in Hepburn's 1887 dictionary, and others interpret it 
to mean any system that writes "shi" instead of "si", the sky will not 
fall either way.  There will be some minor misunderstanding about exact 
meanings, but that is already true for, say, "en-CA".  But if a user has 
no idea what "Hepburn romanization" means, they ought not to be tagging 
content that way, or searching for it that way.  This is why "ja-Latn" 
will continue to be a useful tag.

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

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