Variant subtag proposal: Høgnorsk variety of Norwegian

Leif Halvard Silli xn--mlform-iua at
Sat Jan 2 00:04:23 CET 2010

Kent Karlsson, Fri, 01 Jan 2010 22:57:57 +0100:
> Den 2010-01-01 22.26, skrev "Thorgeir Holm" <thorgeirholm at>:
>> <hermer Michael Everson frå 01.01.2010 21:50>
>>>> The macro 'no' is simply a political creation, and people fill it
>>>> with whatever ideas they have about this concept.
>>>> It is vital that 'no-hognorsk' be valid, the practical
>>>> circumstances in Norwegian language tagging being as chaotic as
>>>> they are.
>>> Vital?
>> Of course: if 'no' is valid for 'nb' and 'nn', for whatever reasons
>> people might have to tag them thus (and they do), the same should apply
>> to -hognorsk.
> If the tagger knows that the text is in Høgnorsk, then the tagger also
> knows that it is nynorsk, not bokmål. There is no reason to ever use
> "no-hognorsk".

So tell my why that line of argumentation doesn't apply to Chinese?

>>> As I said, gem-hognorsk is just as valid as no-hognorsk might be, but
>>> neither seems to me to be necessary.
>> They are not necessary, but they exist and are in use (as far as the
>> 'no' tag concerns). 'no' is also not necessary, in my opinion, but if it
>> is available, other related tags should reflect this.
> The only use for the collection codes and "und" in language tagging is
> to mark "partial knowledge". 

This sounds as a good principle - it is one that I could use if I ever 
where to start a debate - or activism if you wish - e.g. within the 
Wikipedia community, to get them to stop using 'no' as part of the URL 
to the Bokmål wikipedia. But in which paragraph is it documented as 
clearly as you spelt it here? 

Regarding "partial knowledge", partical knowledge of whom? The person 
who does the tagging?

> Basically, macrolanguages fall in that category
> too. Again, if you know a document (or a part of a document) is in Høgnorsk,
> then you also know that it is in Nynorsk.

If you know that a document is Norwegian (covered by 'no'), then you 
know that it is either Nynorsk (including Høgnorsk) or Bokmål. What is 
then the legitimate reason for not picking either 'nn' or 'nb' instead 
of 'no'? I can see two: The document/work actually covers both 
forms[*]. Or the responsible truly don't know. In order to not know, 
he/she will have to not know Norwegian at all.

[*] forms: the official description of our situation here is that we 
have one Norwegian language that exists in two language forms [målform 
= language form]. The term 'målform' is not 100% transparent to the 
average Norwegians, because we tend to use the purist word 'mål' as 
term for 'language' if the issue is related to the Nynorsk/Bokmål 
dichotomy, while we use 'språk' ("Sprache") as the "neutral" word for 
"language". So when I compare 'language' to 'language form' in English, 
then it sounds more "stupid" than it does when I compare "språk" 
(sprache) with "målform" (language form) in Norwegian. 

Anyway: The official policy is: We don't have two languages. We have 
one. You may, however, say that they are linguistically two - if you 
feel like banging your head in the ceiling ...

So thank you for the accusations about activism ... I am just political 

>> Anyway, the point is: the existing 'no' macro doesn't fit into the
>> normative system which is used to say that only 'nn-hognorsk' should be
>> stated. 'no' is a political heritage, and so one should either rectify
>> its status, or allow variant subtags to use 'no' as well.
> Please refrain from using the word "macro" when you mean "macrolanguage
> code/subtag". We have no macros do deal with. And there are no
> macrolanguages, only macrolanguage codes/(primary) subtags (and possibly
> names). "Macrolanguage" is not a linguistic term; it was introduced by
> ISO 639-3 in order to deal with certain language *coding* issues.
> (Personally, I think it probably would have better to just classify them
> as collection codes; a preexisting class of codes.)

Hasn't the tag for serbo-croatian - in retrospect - always been a 
macrolanguage tag?

> But disregarding that, I find your reasoning here nonsensical. You are
> right that "no" is heritage (but an ISO 639 coding mistake heritage),
> but that in no way implies that "no-hognorsk" should in any way be
> recommended. "nn-hognorsk" does just fine, only one prefix to worry about
> for "hognorsk". (Well, "nn-NO-hognorsk", "nn-Latn-CN-hognorsk", etc. would
> also not be formally disrecommended, but that is beside my point.)

The official language policy line of Norway, is to replace the "Eastern 
Scandinavian" and "Western Scandinavian" nodes of the language tree 
with "Norwegian". 

I would loved it if I could present an ISO document to the Norwegian 
Language Council telling that they are wrong. If you could help me with 
that, that would be nice. Defining 'no' as a collection tag instead of 
a macrolanguage tag could perhaps help ... Depending of the beholder, 
it is however a political project.
leif halvard silli

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