Last call: Latvian (and Bontok) extlang subtags

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Feb 12 08:58:06 CET 2010

Caoimhin O Donnaile scripsit:

> It looks as if the extended language subtags are an ad-hoc
> expedient to build some intelligence into the tags themselves
> in cases which are currently likely to cause bother.

Exactly so.

> My vision of the future is that the tags would be atomic, but
> the intelligence would come from an online database which
> applications could download or consult.  This database would have
> information regarding which languages were closely related in
> their writing or in their speech; and it would include information
> on tags which were now deprecated, saying how they were related to 
> now recommended tags for languages and macrolanguages.

So we hope.  But since we can't even maintain a proper list of which
languages are normally written in a single script and which are not
(which we are supposed to do per RFC 5646 and its predecessors), the hope
of a full database seems to be very remote.  Note that it's not so much
"closely related" as "likely to be understood":  Breton and French are not
closely related at all, but someone who understands Breton is quite likely
to understand French better than Welsh, still less any Goedelic language.

A few times, I did some exuberant stomping about,       John Cowan
like a hippo auditioning for Riverdance, though         cowan at
I stopped when I thought I heard something at 
the far side of the room falling over in rhythm
with my feet.  --Joseph Zitt

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