Proposed new variant subtag: pre1917

Doug Ewell doug at
Sun Sep 12 18:09:51 CEST 2010

Kent Karlsson <kent dot karlsson14 at telia dot com> wrote:

> I think using a year number for a variant subtag for an orthography 
> *introduced* officially or effectively at or around a particular year 
> perfectly fine. (But I agree that "pre1917" is a no-go. It's 
> backwards.)

I concede that some (8-letters-or-less) equivalent of 'peter1708' and 
'shakhmatov1917' would be better than simply '1917' or 'pre1917' or 
'rus1917', as these would indicate specifically the orthographic reforms 
of 1708 and 1917 and would not lend themselves to inappropriate generic 

> Something like "cyr44let" is, however, needlessly obfuscated.

I agree.  Russians are probably very familiar with "the 44-letter 
alphabet" and "the 33-letter alphabet" but this approach requires 
non-native speakers to count letters.

> I don't see a proposal for a subtag for post-1917 Russian 
> orthography...

There is a history, perhaps an unfortunate one, that if language 
variation A gets a variant subtag and language variation B does not, 
some people will take that to mean that variation B must be the 
"standard" or "normal" or "official" or "correct" variation and A must 
be the aberration.  The only solution acceptable to all is to assign two 
(or more) subtags.  So far we have not had any calls for a variant 
subtag indicating "non-Scottish English" or "modern French orthography," 
but time will tell.

I'd like to suggest that we need only two subtags, not three, since 
Avram Lyon's original request stated:

"This variant subtag is intended to apply to text presented in the 
Russian Civil Script, after the Petrine orthographic reforms of 1708 and 
before the December 23, 1917 orthographic reform."

and since the additional changes around 1750 (between Peter I's reform 
of 1708 and the Revolutionary reform of 1917) appear to have been less 
clear-cut, more like evolution than reform.  We don't have variant 
subtags for English written with or without the letters J and U.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA |
RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14 | ietf-languages @ is dot gd slash 2kf0s ­ 

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