Language Variant subtags for Sanskrit (was Language Variant subtags)

Doug Ewell doug at
Tue Jul 6 04:54:44 CEST 2010

CE Whitehead <cewcathar at hotmail dot com> wrote:

> There is no reason these subtags cannot have up to eight letters even 
> so they can be longer than they are if that is necessary in order to 
> specify them.

I don't remember anyone saying they should be shorter than eight letters 
at the expense of clarity.  Maybe you saw a message that I missed.

> I would prefer not having a generic variant 'classic' or 'class' --  
> that is I think its prefixes should be specified;
> for example:
> Type: variant
> Subtag:  classic
> Prefix: he (Biblical or Classical Hebrew ; but note that Classical 
> Greek is not = New Testament Greek!  So "classical" may not be being 
> used quite the same way even though I do agree that it is used for a 
> written form that persists after the dialects have changed), ar 
> (although we have [arb] for standard Arabic which is very similar; 
> perhaps [arb] should be an alternate prefix; classical = Qur'anic for 
> Arabic; al-Fus.-h.aa is the name for both Classical and the variety 
> defined by [arb] although you can separate these; see 
>, la, sa, (however for 
> Greek we have [grk] and a subtag classical would not make this any 
> more specific that I know of although I may be wrong! -- someone who 
> is more expert here can let me know)

You've just exposed the underlying problem.  The adjective "classical" 
tends to mean different things depending on what language it is applied 
to, and nobody can prevent an end user from using a variant subtag with 
a language other than its Prefix.  People could write "en-classic" or 
"vi-classic" and it would be completely unclear what they meant.  And 
attaching a lengthy Description or Comments field to explain the 
different uses of the variant depending on the prefix would accomplish 

This is why Classical Sanskrit, Classical Greek, and Classical 
Kryptonian need to have different variants, and why none of them should 
present the visual impression of "generic classical."

> Did we not have an issue trying to register 'classic' as a variant 
> before and was not the requester refused?  This was for Taraškievica 
> (ultimately assigned the subtag [tarask]).


Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA |
RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14 | ietf-languages @ is dot gd slash 2kf0s ­

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