Language Variant subtags for Sanskrit

Doug Ewell doug at
Tue Jul 13 20:59:13 CEST 2010

Mark Davis 🍲 <mark at macchiato dot com> wrote:

> I fail to understand why people think that obfuscation is a good thing... There will be a prefix for "classical" that completely disambiguates it.

It's not a matter of obfuscation per se.  There is a long-standing
principle that a given subtag should have the same meaning in any tag in
which it appears, regardless of prefixes or other surrounding subtags.

Variant subtags like 'western' or 'classic' violate this principle,
because the relationship between "classical Sanskrit" and "Sanskrit" may
be totally different from the relationship between "classical X" and "X"
for any other language X.

Contrast this with, say, "fr-fonipa" and "sa-fonipa", where the meaning
of 'fonipa' is the same regardless of whether it is applied to French or
Sanskrit.  Likewise "az-baku1926" and "tk-baku1926"; even if the exact
implementation of Jaŋalif differed between Azerbaijani and Turkmen, the
overall concept is the same.

Region subtags don't follow this principle perfectly: the relationship
between "en" and "en-CU" probably isn't the same as that between "es"
and "es-CU".  But region subtags were established long before the BCP 47
project (as such) got underway, and are already known to paint with too
wide a brush at some times and too narrow a brush at other times. 
Variants are our invention, and we ought to follow our own principles
and intentions with regard to them.

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

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