ISO 639-3 releases list of 2009 changes

Randy Presuhn randy_presuhn at
Sat Jan 23 18:57:06 CET 2010

Hi -

> From: "John Cowan" <cowan at>
> To: "Mark Davis ??" <mark at>
> Cc: "ietflang IETF Languages Discussion" <ietf-languages at>; "John Cowan" <cowan at>
> Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 1:06 AM
> Subject: Re: ISO 639-3 releases list of 2009 changes
> Into what mutually unintelligible languages do you suppose that Standard
> German could be divided?  If the denotation of 'de(u)' were something broader
> than Standard German, one might well suppose that it would become a macrolanguage
> eventually, but such is not the case.

If there were a history of things like Swabian, Plattdeutsch, Pfaelzisch, usw.
being tagged as "de", there would be a case for it, and we'd end up with something
resembling the Chinese mess.  I'm still not sure whether that would be a bug
or a feature.

But I *do* have a slight problem with that capital "S" in "Standard German".
There's significant regional variation in both pronunciation and vocabulary,
even when speakers are consciously refraining from using their local "dialect."
As it is spoken, standard German (to me, at least) doesn't seem significantly
more uniform than, for example, "American English".  Folks may be trying to
approximate something they were taught in school, but they do so with varying
degrees of success, and the possibilities for divergence are regionally

If folks are really intent on making 'de' separate from *all* the "dialects",
I'd almost be happier calling it Koinedeutsch.  :-)  But are we really sure
there are no "dialects" being tagged with de- subtags?


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