Ietf-languages Digest, Vol 90, Issue 8

Peter Constable petercon at
Wed Jun 16 21:35:21 CEST 2010


"macrolanguage" was concocted as a means of accommodating existing coding practices, and this included both of these types of scenario. The thing that's common in both cases is that there are two levels of granularity at which entities are getting treated as "languages". They are not the same two levels-language network/genetic node vs. language in one case, but language vs. dialect in the other; but the specific levels were not in any way baked into the definition of "macrolanguage".


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Anthony Aristar
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 6:21 AM
To: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Ietf-languages Digest, Vol 90, Issue 8

As I have always understood macrolanguages, Joan, they are typically used for linguistic entities which are actually distinct languages (or close to it), but which for some reason speakers often treat as the same language.  The classic example is "Chinese".  If we used a macrolanguage for Serbo-Croatian, we would be turning this on its head:  we would be using a macrolanguage for very similar (and mutually totally
intelligible) dialects.

What we need, then, is not to use a macrolanguage in this way, but simply to instantiate appropriate dialect codes.

Anthony Aristar, Director, Institute for Language Information & Technology
  Professor of Linguistics            Moderator, LINGUIST Linguistics Program
Dept. of English                       aristar at
Eastern Michigan University            2000 Huron River Dr, Suite 104
Ypsilanti, MI 48197


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> than "Re: Contents of Ietf-languages digest..."
> Today's Topics:
>    1. RE: Montenegrin (ISO639-3)
>    2. Re: Montenegrin (Kent Karlsson)
>    3. Re: Montenegrin (John Cowan)
>    4. RE: Montenegrin (Peter Constable)
>    5. RE: Montenegrin (Peter Constable)
>    6. Re: Montenegrin (Leif Halvard Silli)
>    7. Montenegrin (CE Whitehead)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 10:13:16 -0500
> From: "ISO639-3" <ISO639-3 at>
> To: <Ietf-languages at>
> Subject: RE: Montenegrin
> Message-ID: <000301cb0c9d$48181e10$d8485a30$@org>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="us-ascii"
> An application was made to ISO 639-3. However, such a proposal cannot be
> considered by the Part 3 RA as long as Montenegrin is still considered to be
> encompassed by [sr] in ISO 639-2, The request was therefore sent on to the
> ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee. For Serbian and Montenegrin, there is no
> separate answer in ISO 639-3 that is not the same answer in ISO 639-2.
> There is a code element in ISO 639-3 which could be a factor in this
> discussion, though I recognize that it raises its own set of complications.
> In ISO 639-3, there is still an active code element for Serbo-Croatian [hbs]
> ([sh] deprecated), with a scope of Macrolanguage, and the constituent
> languages [bs / bos], [hr / hrv], and [sr / srp]. This arrangement
> recognizes the Serbo-Croatian diasystem, with three associated standard
> forms. "Standard forms" would seem to be the more appropriate interpretation
> of [bs / bos] ; [hr / hrv] ; and [sr / srp], as opposed to "all the
> varieties of this language as spoken in Bosnia ; Croatia ; Serbia," but that
> interpretation seems to be at the heart of the matter.  The standard forms
> clearly do not collectively encompass all that the Serbo-Croatian code
> element encompasses.
> I am interested in this group's thoughts regarding whether the
> Serbo-Croatian macrolanguage in Part 3 (though not included in Part 2, and
> deprecated in Part 1) is a factor, and in what ways.
> Thanks,
> Joan Spanne
> SIL International, ISO 639-3 Registration Authority
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at
> [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of David Starner
> Sent: Monday, June 14, 2010 11:23 AM
> To: ietf-languages at
> Subject: Montenegrin
> rin_3
> is a huge argument, which the pro side isn't going to win until they
> get an ISO-639-3 language code. I'm somewhat annoyed that they haven't
> applied to SIL for that necessary and probably sufficient thing.

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