Proposed new variant subtag: pre1917

Doug Ewell doug at
Tue Sep 14 21:07:13 CEST 2010

Yury Tarasievich <yury dot tarasievich at gmail dot com> wrote:

> I have no stake in these tags, still I'd ask, 
> was there anything fundamentally "wrong" with 
> (my) proposals for these '-peter' and '-1918', 
> and what is the merit of, say, '-shakhmat' over 
> '-1918'.

As Peter Constable pointed out, from the standpoint of protocol
elements, all of these are just fine.  None is any better or worse than
any other, or than 'xyzxyz'.

 From the standpoint of human readability, I see multiple problems with

First, there is no indication that the denoted variety is orthographic
in nature.  There was a lot going on in Russia in 1918, and a user who
does not read the full Registry entry (which, of course, is our
assumption if we are concerned about the mnemonic value of subtags)
might think this subtag referred to some other sort of change to Russian
that took place in or around 1918, such as reduced usage of vocabulary
associated with class distinctions (which did occur, but gradually).  At
least the references to Peter I and Shakhmatov pin this down somewhat.

Second, while we would like to think taggers will read and understand
BCP 47 -- particularly the conditions under which one should or should
not use a variant subtag with a non-recommended prefix -- there is the
possibility of a clue-deprived user applying '1918' to just about any
unrelated content that happened to be published in 1918.  An example
would be tagging "Calligrammes" by Apollinaire as "fr-1918".  Naturally,
there is only so much we can do to stop people from doing clue-deprived
things, but we ought not to make it *too* easy.

Third, as this thread has shown, there is not even agreement as to
whether the orthographic reform occurred in 1918 or 1917.

I don't have any real preference between 'petrine' and 'grazhdan' and
'peter', which is why I asked Avram what his preference was.  I suppose
the *really* clueless could interpret "ru-peter" as meaning Russian as
spoken by Peter Constable, or perhaps Peter Griffin, but that is well
beyond our ability to control.

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

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