Leif Halvard Silli xn--mlform-iua at
Wed Jun 16 23:00:57 CEST 2010

Doug Ewell, Wed, 16 Jun 2010 13:16:37 -0700:
> Peter Constable <petercon at microsoft dot com> wrote:
>> Now, what happens in the IANA language subtag registry is, of course,
>> not bound only by what happens in ISO 639, but can also be driven by
>> decisions made on this list, within the constraints permitted by BCP
>> 47.
> But just so it's clear to Leif and Milos, one of the constraints of BCP
> 47 is that the "Scope: macrolanguage" designation in the Registry must
> follow ISO 639 strictly.  We cannot add or remove this designation on
> the basis of whether we personally

Understood. "We - the IETF-languages - personally".

>  feel that Serbo-Croatian is or is not
> a "macrolanguage," however we personally define that term.

This is exactly why I said that I and Milos perhaps understood 
'macrolanguage' differently from Peter and John - I know that at least 
Peter took part in coining the term. Having re-read the definition of 
Macrolanguage and heard the input, I can see that it is possible to 
agree with ISO's definition of 'sh' as a macrolanguage. I took up 
whether 'sh' is a macrolangauge because iso639-3@ said they wanted 
input on Montenengrin and because 'sh' was discussed in that context.

That said: The general problem perhaps more is that many tend to think 
that 'macrolanguage' is a term firmly rooted in linguistic theory. For 
example, the Serbo-Croatian article on Serbo-Croatian language says 
that "modern linguists" look at Serbo-Croatian as a "living 
macrolanguage". [1] And as basis for this claim, the article points to 
SIL. [2] 

Many Wikipedia articles on languages of course dutifully list languages 
as "macrolanguage", but I find that if the term is _only_ a term that 
is locked into ISO 639-3, [3] then, what use is it in listing it as a 
macrolanguage outside the Language Subtag Registry and similar places? 
What would be useful was an article that listed all macrolanguages and 
explained why each of them was considered as such by ISO 639-3.

leif halvard silli

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list