Peter Constable petercon at
Thu Jun 10 16:14:07 CEST 2010

Since Montenegro decided to refer to their official language using a distinct name from that used by their neighbors, the question has come up on a few occasions as to whether "Montenegrin" should be coded in ISO 639 distinct from Serbian. This raises various questions in my mind regarding implications of such a change, and I'm curious to know if people on this list have comments.

In raising this, I'd ask people not to rat-hole on how different Serbian and Montenegrin are linguistically: there's enough evidence that they can appropriate be considered a single language in terms of linguistic criteria, and so that would have no bearing whatsoever in possible JAC action.

Some questions that come to my mind:

-          Given the established practice of coding "Bosnian", "Croatian" and "Serbian" distinctly, how problematic would it be for users and implementers if "Montenegrin" was handled differently, simply being listed as one of the alternative names for sr / srp?

-          Will users really distinguish "Montenegrin" language from "Serbian" language when reading books, newspapers, etc.; when listening to radio, television, music, etc.; when buying dictionaries, hiring translators, etc?

-          Will librarians and other cataloguers really distinguish content in "Montenegrin" vs. "Serbian"?

-          How will content developers that deal with localization be impacted? E.g., as developers of software or large websites, video media publishers dealing with alternate-language audio tracks or closed-caption content?

-          In what ways would "sr-ME" versus "sr-RS" be less than fully adequate for users' needs?

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