Changing definition of German (was: Re: ISO 639-3 releases list of 2009 changes)

Leif Halvard Silli xn--mlform-iua at
Sat Jan 23 21:25:12 CET 2010

Randy Presuhn, Sat, 23 Jan 2010 11:24:32 -0800:

> I view "standard" German as a specific variety of German,
> just as Standard French is a specific (officially codified!) version of a
> larger thing called French.  As such, I'd prefer to use a variant subtag
> to indicate the specific variety, when there is a need to make the 
> distinction.


And don't forget the region subtag, as a tool for making the variety 
distinction. ;-)

It looks as if macrolanguages status is most often awarded to a code 
which cover two or more "language instances" that aren't divided by a 
border. That is: When there is no region tag to make the distinction. 
This, again, in my view, hints that extlang subtags are very practical, 
as they can be used very much in a similar fashion to how region 
subtags are used. There are quite some examples of tagging that shows 
that taggers think this is logical, even when extlang subtags is not an 
option. ;-)

But I wonder: If 'de' means 'Standard German', then could it actually 
make sense to define a subtag which meant 'dialect of Berlin' and use 
'de' as prefix for it? If the variant is not coverd by the 'de' then 
that doesn't make sense to me. I would almost claim that if 'de' can't 
_in theory_ become macrolanguage, then it can in theory also not become 
the preferred prefix of variant tag for a German dialect. (However, it 
could become the preferred prefix of a variant of Standard German.)
leif halvard silli

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