Language Variant subtags for Sanskrit

Mark Davis ☕ mark at
Thu Jul 15 03:11:32 CEST 2010

A few comments. In the context of language tags, the same subtag can have
very different implications, even if the tag itself has a well understood

For example, fr-*CH* means a variant of French that uses, say, huitante. On
the other hand, de-*CH* means a variant of German that uses "Schloss"
instead of "Schloß". The situation we have is that CH has a constant meaning
(Switzerland), but in combination with other tags, has different
implications. There is a second facet to this, which is that "de-CH" can be
confused with a completely different language, "gsw".

We need to be cognizant of the latter kind of issue in the registry. Someone
could be confused into thinking that X can be represented by Y-<some region>
or Y-<some variant>, where X and Y are actually different languages
(mutually unintelligible). If X and Y are already given different base
language codes, then we can clarify this with comments; if Y does not have a
language code, we need to refer the applicant to ISO for requesting a code.

Let's look at "classical". Like "CH", when used with different base
languages it has different implications. Like X and Y above, if "classical
Sanskrit" is really a different language, then it should get a different
code. I understand Peter's concerns about making sure that "classical" is
not used to mean a different language. So it makes sense to be very clear
about the usage in the comments. Here is a strawman (assuming that classical
Sanskrit wouldn't be a separate language):

Description: A classical variant of a given language.

Prefix: sa

Prefix: fr

Description: when used with "sa", refers to the version codified by
Panini, also called Italian Sanskrit.

Description: when used with "fr", refers to ...

Comment: This denotes an intelligible variant of a language, not a different
language. For example, what is called "Classical Tibetan" is properly
represented by the separate language "xct"; it is not correctly represented
by "bo-classical".
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