Language subtag registration for acor1990 (ammended from ao1990)

António H F P A Emiliano (FCSH/UNL) ah.emiliano at
Thu Aug 25 15:49:38 CEST 2011

Michael Everson asked me to join this discussion. I browsed the  
threads concerning subtags related to PT and I am a bit puzzled by  
the contents of the discussion, which seems to lack a grounded  
knowledge of Portuguese & Brazilian spelling reforms.

<acor1971>, <refo1971> are IMO unacceptable: they are opaque & they  
reflect a national reform, in this instance a Brazilian reform.
<pt1971> or better <1971> are acceptable provided that other subtags  
of this kind are accepted.

<ao1990> (should be <aolp1990>) is opaque.

The official name of the Treaty which was signed in 1990 and ratified  
by 7 countries in 1991 is ‘Acordo Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa’.
The reform proper is Annex I to the Treaty: ‘Acordo Ortográfico da  
Língua Portuguesa (1990)‘.
How do you translate adequately “Acordo Ortográfico”? ‘Accord’ seems  
rather far-fetched.
It is an international treaty. Why not call it a Treaty?
The proposal <acor1990> is just awful, worse than <ao1990> or  
It does not mean anything to the nonspecialist.
It is not international (in the interlinguistic sense).

Since the AOLP1990 is an international treaty *signed* by all PT- 
speaking countries in 1990 it does make sense to create a subtag  
<1990>, provided that:
i) Additional subtags must refer to *major* reforms.
ii) All previous major reforms are encoded by additional subtags,  
i.e. <pre1214>, <1214>, <pre1255>, <1255>, ... , <pre1911> (?),  
<1911>, <1945>. Further discussion is necessary regarding additional  
subtags such as ‘1971’ or ‘1973’. ‘1973’ refers to a minor adjustment  
of the ’45 reform in Portugal.
iii) Since the ‘1990’ subtag contains a date, everyone concerned must  
agree on the meaning of this date. The above mentioned dates do not  
carry the same meaning.
I think that it must be clear that ‘1990’ does not refer to ‘a PT  
text written after 1990’. This clarification can only be achieved  
with the global consideration of  a possible system of PT subtags: I  
would recommend that no subtag of this kind be approved in isolation.

Please understand that there are several relevant dates when  
discussing a (Portuguese) treaty (I suppose this applies to any given  
country with a similar  parliamentarian structure). The dates  
pertaining to this treaty are: i) date of signature (1990), date of  
parliamentary approval (1991, in Portugal), date of presidential  
ratification (1991, in Portugal), date of transitional implementation  
(2008 or 2009, in PT -- there is no agreement), date of full  
implemention (2014 or 2015, in PT -- there is no agreement).

So, which of these dates best suits the purposes of the a new PT  
subtag which relates to the spelling reform that was approved and  
ratified in 1991 (in Portugal)? The answer will determine the meaning  
of the date and set a standard for using other dates.

Since I am a newcomer to this list, I have a few requests:
i) can anyone please provide me with precedents and similes?
ii) were similar subtags created recently for reformed Dutch and German?
iii) can anyone please direct me to a document that states the formal  
requirements of a language subtag of this kind?

Thank you.
Regards. - A.

António Emiliano
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Departamento de Linguística
ah.emiliano at

PS. a post in this discussion states that Angola and Moçambique have  
allegedly declared their willingness to implement the Acordo  
Ortográfico 1990. This is not accurate. The Angolans are currently  
working on their own orthographic vocabulary (with help of Portuguese  
linguists) and have deferred any decision to apply the 1990 reform  
until the completion of the vocabulary. MZ has been silent.

On Aug 25, 2011, at 11:59, Philip Newton wrote:

> 2011/8/25 João Miguel Neves <joao at>:
>> Em 24-08-2011 20:48, Philip Newton escreveu:
>>> On Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 20:04, Doug Ewell <doug at> wrote:
>>>> Maybe 'pt1971' and 'pt1990' are what are needed.
>>> So you'd have "pt-pt1971" as the combined tag? That seems a bit...
>>> redundant, somehow. Though I admit it *would* make it easier to find
>>> the right subtag and to associate the subtag with the right idea.
>> Am I wrong to assume that anyone looking for a variant to a language
>> starts by limiting herself to the language tag?
> I don't know what "anyone" does :) I assume people use a variety of
> strategies to find the subtags they think they need to mark up a given
> text.
>> Because if easy to find
>> a variant in the registry without looking for the language tag is a
>> requirement, current implementation fails miserably in my short
>> experience with it.
> It's not a requirement.
> As for my personal opinion, "pt1971" would make it easier to find and
> understand, *but* this ease does not make up for the (subjective)
> "ugliness" of the subtag which comes from repeating the language code
> as part of the subtag name. So on the balance, I - personally - would
> disprefer "pt1971".
> Cheers,
> Philip
> -- 
> Philip Newton <philip.newton at>
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