Language Tag Registration Form - sw-sheng

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Sat Sep 25 19:26:07 CEST 2010

Hi.  (Am sending this again as I mistyped the email address!)
Peter Constable petercon at 
Thu Sep 23 07:39:00 CEST 2010 
> There isn’t a simple, short answer to how to decide the “distinct
> language” versus “variant question. A key factor can be> inherent one-
> or two-way intelligibility at a functional level (suggests variants of a
> single language; the contra-
> positive—inherent, mutual non-intelligibility at a functional level— 
> suggests distinct languages).
> And attitudes can also be significant, perhaps reinforcing a decision
> based on intelligibility, but sometimes possibly 
> becoming the deciding factor. (E.g., speakers of A inherently understand
> B, but they also detest B and the way they speak> and resist any
> suggestion of a shared identity: in this case, it’s impractical to call
> these the variants of the same 
> language because it’s too difficult to sustain a single language identity
> in practice.)
I tend to agree that identity is an issue; for more detailed standards, see:
--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at 
> The descriptions you give indicate shared grammar, but it sounds like the
> lexicons have a number of differences. It 
> doesn’t take a lot of lexical differences to start creating significant
> barriers to communication. That’s what 
> particularly made me question if a variant subtag was the best approach
> here.

> Peter
> From: Denis Gikunda [mailto:dgikunda at]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 7:14 PM

>> Hi Peter
>> Despite having read RFC 5646, I'm not that well versed with distinguishing factors btw 'variant' to 'distinct language' 
>> per ISO 639-3 standards. However judging from academic discourse and my experiences on the ground, I'd say sheng is 
>> still very much a variant.
>> From a linguistic standpoint, Sheng borrows heavily from Swahili syntax & grammar.  According to one of the references
>>> listed in the registration:
>> "‘Sheng’ is based primarily on Kiswahili structure. It uses Kiswahili grammar with lexicon 		 	   		  

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