Variant subtag proposal: Høgnorsk variety of Norwegian

Leif Halvard Silli xn--mlform-iua at
Sat Jan 2 04:15:39 CET 2010

Doug Ewell, Fri, 1 Jan 2010 18:38:41 -0700:
> Leif Halvard Silli wrote:

>> It takes activism to argue that people should stop using 'no', as well
> Well, I didn't make that argument.  I did say:
>> I found it interesting, though, that my question revealed that some 
>> people believe Norwegian data should be only tagged as 'nb' or 'nn', 
>> never as 'no', despite the huge amount of existing 'no' data.

I lost it if that quote was from today. Today I saw this from you:

> I was doing just fine with your line of reasoning, until you brought 
> in the activist component.  Language subtags are not assigned to 
> promote political or linguistic reform or other social causes, though 
> we are aware that some people may request subtags on those grounds.

(Though I did not really debate the assigning of the 'hognorsk' subtag 
to the registry, but its preferred prefixes.)
> Not all tagging of content, and not all searching for content, is done 
> with the maximum possible precision.  That is the nature of languages, 
> and of humans with differing degrees of knowledge.  Some people, 
> including Michael and every Norwegian on this list, can readily tell 
> Bokmål from Nynorsk, while others like me can only just tell Norwegian 
> from Danish.  BCP 47 allows maximum precision when that is appropriate 
> (and possible), and lesser but still useful degrees of precision when 
> that is appropriate (or necessary).

Most people tagging something as 'no' are either technical experts or 
Norwegian fluent. Still they often choose 'no'. It is mostly tagging 
competence they are lacking. More than the necessary linguistic 
competence to discern between what is what. To be able to tag 
"correctly", one also needs a conscious strategy. 

Example: Mac OS X up until and including version 10.4 used 'no' for is 
official Norwegian localization. And labeled it also as Norwegian. 
Fine.  OS X 10.4 did not recognize the 'nn' tag  - not even 
technically. It was impossible to label anything as 'nn' unless you 
hacked the system. In 10.5, they continued to use the 'no' tag but now 
says that it means "Bokmål". I have filed bugs, and 'grandstood', but 
had great difficulty reaching in - I am convinced that what hindered 
the points in reaching home was some Norwegian assistant of the English 
engineer I had contact with. What kind of confusion - or activism - he 
eventually suffered from, is just speculation.

So now, at least OS X 10.5 has two tags which, in Apple's book, means 
'Bokmål': 'no' and 'nb'. The exact same version of a particular 
application will be flagged as 'Norwegian' in 10.4 but as 'Bokmål' in 

But it is not for political activist reasons that I insist that they 
should have continued to use 'no' for Norwegian. Hell, no: politically 
I much prefer that they operate with Bokmål versus Nynorsk rather than 
Norwegian versus Nynorsk. But I insisted on a principle - the principle 
of correct language tags - hoping that it would lead to the right thing 
in the long run. 

My practical experience thus tells me that 
a) I may need to tag Nynorsk things as 'no', 
b) this is also the case for Høgnorsk things, 
c) a proof in the hand that 'no-hognorsk' is actually legal and 
meaningful could be very helpful when trying to explain what 'no' 
means, and in order to be able to - when needed - use 'no-hognorsk' 
without irrelevant protests. 

Less confusion instead of more, is what I think this would create. 
Although, I will of course gladly point to John's messages if 'no' 
doesn't end up as one of the two preferred prefixes.

> I simply asked whether 'nn' was the only Prefix that was desired for 
> this variant, implying of course that 'no' would have been a 
> possibility.

And I immediately took that point. 

>  It seems to me that in fact 'nn' should be the only 
> Prefix, since as someone (I've already lost track who) pointed out, if 
> you know it's Høgnorsk then you already know it's Nynorsk.  I'm with 
> Michael and Randy in supporting this approach, as Thorgeir originally 
> had it.

Thorgeir in one of his first messages also aired 'no' as an option. I'm 
waiting for a response to my suggestion to add a prohibition against 
using 'nb' as prefix of 'hognorsk'.

> The amount of political grandstanding on both sides is becoming a bit 
> alarming.  Let's just register the subtags necessary to distinguish 
> relevant language varieties, and leave all the other junk out of it.

If 'other junk' includes exchanging of labels such as 'activist' and 
'political', then I immediately subscribe.
leif halvard silli

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