Correction for pinyin

ejp10 ejp10 at
Tue Mar 9 18:46:07 CET 2010

As a lurker, I would add that I agree with Mark and Doug that we should help the casual i18n researcher distinguish the 2 Pinyins, particularly since the sociolinguistics of China/Taiwan/Singapore/Hong Kong make tagging "Chinese" so tricky to begin with.

If nothing else, it would reduce the number of questions along the line of "Don't you know Pinyin is a writing system...." and that has to be a good thing.

FWIW - I might have wondered the same thing myself at first glance and I teach linguistics. Pinyin of Cameroon is really not a well-known language.


> Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 09:23:33 -0800
> From: Mark Davis ? <mark at>
> Subject: Re: Correction for pinyin
> To: Doug Ewell <doug at>
> Cc: ietf-languages at
> Message-ID:
> 	<30b660a21003090923u199dbfb0qe1e9e98a3581b636 at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> Comments is fine; and if in a comment, then it might as well be the longer
> form.
>> But a great many languages have names (including ISO 639...
> And we should add comments to that where we find them.
> We can't be defensive about this. If people are confused, it's best not to
> just respond by saying that they should have researched the issue (although
> a lot of programmers take that point of view with UI design!!). It is best
> to help to reduce the confusion, and we have tools to do that.
> Your proposed record looks good. (And no need to call it "submitted somewhat
> defensively" - it looks well done.)
> Mark
> On Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 07:11, Doug Ewell <doug at> wrote:
>> Mark Davis ? wrote:
>>> The main goal of the Description is not to completely describe the
>>> language tag; instead, it is to distinguish it from other tags with
>>> which it could be confused.
>> Of course.  But a great many languages have names (including ISO 639
>> names and Description fields) which could potentially be confused with
>> others.
>>> So given that it is a quite natural mistake to think that the term
>>> "Pinyin" means what 99% of those knowing the word think it means
>>> (applying to over a billion people), rather than the minute fraction
>>> of a percent who would realize that it means something quite different
>>> (applying to 27K people), we owe it to readers to be quite clear about
>>> this.
>> I don't dispute that, but I also think most users of the Registry (and
>> for that matter ISO 639), when they see an entry that puzzles them,
>> might find out from a neutral standpoint what it means, rather than
>> assuming the standards organization is clueless.  The RA really does
>> understand that a transcription scheme is not a language.
>>> What you suggest is probably adequate, but we might go so far as:
>>> Pinyin (a Niger-Congo language spoken in Cameroon)
>> Just to be clear for all, you support putting this information in the
>> Description, while I support putting it in a Comments field.
>> --
>> Doug Ewell  |  Thornton, Colorado, USA  |
>> RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14  |  ietf-languages @ ?
>> _______________________________________________
>> Ietf-languages mailing list
>> Ietf-languages at
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Penn State University
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