Leif Halvard Silli xn--mlform-iua at
Thu Jun 17 15:16:36 CEST 2010

John Cowan, Tue, 15 Jun 2010 15:29:55 -0400:
> ISO639-3 scripsit:

>> The standard forms clearly do not collectively encompass all that the
>> Serbo-Croatian code element encompasses.
> Indeed not: the Old Shtokavian, Kajkavian, and Chakavian dialects
> are part of the overall diasystem, but excluded from standardization.
> (Standard Bosnian has some Old Shtokavian features, at least in theory.)

I do not think that it is whether 'sh' covers more than 'sr/hr/bs' 
collectively do, that makes it a macrolanguage. This would, in our 
case, lead us to say that 'sh' is a macrolanguage because it also 
covers things that 'bs/hr/sr' do not cover - in fact, that is what you 
seem to say.  

Also, if we looked at 'sh' as subtag firmly linked to the Yugoslavian 
period (an perhaps that is why it was deprecated), then there are also 
things that 'sr/hr/bs' cover which 'sh' don't. But 'sh' may also be 
useful as a more neutral way to tag a border-crossing dialect.

A macrolanguage primary subtag 'encompasses' other language primary 
subtags. And this is also the technical explanation of why 'sh' is a 
macrolanguage - that it encompasses 'sr/hr/bs'. It _could_ be that 'sh' 
also covers things that 'sr/hr/bs' do not cover. But this is not what 
makes 'sh' a macrolanguage subtag.  E.g. according German Wikipedia, 
"many linguists" consider Molise Croatian as Serbo-Croatian. [1][2] But 
whether this potentially affects the macrolanguage status of 'sh', 
depends on whether there is subtag for Molise Slavic an whether that 
subtag is encompassed by 'sh' or not ...

You mentioned Kajkavian, Chakavian  - they are Croatian dialects and 
should be covered by 'hr'. Old Shtokavian seems like a long carpet. But 
amongst them are also the Montenegrin Zeta-South Sandžak dialect - 
which should be covered by 'sr'.

>> 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.
> Certainly if the RA/JAC adds an ISO 639-3 code element for Standard
> Montenegrin, that code should be added to the macrolanguage.
> Given the existence of code elements for the other standard forms,
> I'm willing to say that Montenegrin should be added to all three parts.
> The local precedent is in this case more important than the general rules
> for 639.  Given that 639-1 and 639-2 are primarily concerned with written
> materials, there is no need for them to have code elements corresponding
> to hbs, but there is no harm in having them.

Above you argued that 'sh' encompasses more than 'sr/hr/bs'. However, 
both 'sr' and 'sh' clearly encompasses the dialects of Montenegro. Thus 
my answer to Joan is that, no, 'sh/hbs' being a macrolanguage is not a 

I agree, however, that if Montenegrin gets a subtag, then it must be 
encompassed by 'sh'. And the Montenengrin subtag should be of the same 
nature as 'bs/hr/sr': a pretty needless subtag that mainly is useful 
for identifying a standard form, but which also covers the Montenegrin 
dialects - whatever they are. The 'sr' subtag will also continue to 
cover the Serbian dialect of Montenegro - whatever they are. In this 
way the macrolanguage status of 'sh' is relevant: it encompasses 
subtags that are quite similar in nature.

All this comes back to what Joan (ISO639-3) said:

>> 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"

I agree that 'sh' takes care of the Serbo-Croatian diasystem. But 
"Standard forms" is not a good interpretation of 'sr/hr/bs' - it seems 
like a narrowing of the scope to say that they only cover the standard 
forms. You said that 'sh' has 3 associated standard forms. However, I 
think that we can also say that 'sr', 'hr' and 'bs' each has one (or 
more?) associated standard form, as well. Thus, waht discerns 
'sr/hr/bs' is primarily the *associated* Standard form of each subtag - 
as well as the "associated" dialects (as well as the associated 
[language/cultural] history - which is also reflected in the 

Thank you for your attention. And have a nice summer. :-)

leif halvard silli

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