Request of new variant subtag for kichwa (inside qu)

mailler at mailler at
Wed Jun 8 10:12:42 CEST 2011

I'm sorry, the previous message was sent accidentaly before being
finished. This one replaces the previous one.


OK, I understand the problems that are adressed here, some elements on
which I can answer, for the rest I am no linguist and no normalization
expert. This is a common answer for several messages sent yesterday.

> Anyway:  whatever you decide about a tag, it seems this is a clearly
distinct variety of Kichwa, and therefore deserves an ISO 639-3 code,
just like all the other "standard" languages.

I read that an ISO 639-3 code for Unified kichwa has already been rejected
by SIL, I do not know when or on which ground, I was not filing the
request myself. Possibly, the request was filed the existing literature
was not sufficient (the main books describing the language are from

>> On Jun 7, 2011, at 9:36 AM, mailler at wrote:
>>> The list of the individual language covered (ISO 639-3 codes) is the
following :
>>> qud, qxr, qug, qvi, qvj, qvz, qxl, quw.
>>> I think the most logical is to use the "qu" prefix since the Unified
Kichwa does not adress all these dialects individually (the reference
grammar book does not make a difference between dialects).
> I tend to agree with Anthony that if Sylvain Mailler is eliminating all
other dialects except the macro-language from consideration . . . and if
differences include grammar then he perhaps needs a language code, if
his variety meets the criteria for a language (separate literature,
identity, etc.); qu should be listed at the macrolanguage.  So +1 for
Anthony's suggestion.

First of all I would like to make the solemn pledge that I am not
interesting in eliminating any language or dialect (btw I'm currently
learning one of them - qvi) ;-). Also I don't know if by saying "his
variant" you were implying that I was somehow participating in the process
of defining this new orthography: I was not, nor am I a member of any
official body promoting it.

I wouldn't say that the differences include grammar but rather that the
grammar is largely common between the languages I cited above and that it
has been formalized for the Unified Kichwa (see below)

>But Quechua is not itself a language; it is a language collection that is
treated as a single language for some purposes.  I think having the
concept "variant of a macrolanguage" is confusing and shouldn't be
employed; macrolanguages have members, not variants, and if we allow both
it will be very difficult to say which goes with what.

If I understand, you are saying that there is a "taxonomy" where a
macrolanguage include members, which themselves include variants and that
having a variant of quechua would therefore make no sense as quechua is a
macrolanguage, so kichwa would need to be considered a member and not a
variant. Am I correct ?

> Kent Karlsson scripsit:
>> But we have:
>> Type: variant
>> Subtag: pinyin
>> Description: Pinyin romanization
>> Added: 2008-10-14
>> Prefix: zh-Latn
>> Prefix: bo-Latn
> Formally, that's correct.  But the 'pinyin' subtag really specifies a
variant of the orthography rather than of the macrolanguage itself.

I think the kichwa might enter this case too. I think kichwa can be seen
as essentially a set of orthographic prescriptions (which letters are used
to represent which sound) that can be applied to all Quechua II-B
languages (members of other branches have sounds that cannot be
represented properly with the Unified Kichwa set of letters). I think that
if it is possible to have the same think for Kichwa as for Pinyin that
would be the best solution.

The fact that a grammmar book has been written for Unified Kichwa is not,
in my opinion, a sign that the intention is to build a new language, but
rather that the grammatical differences between the Ecuadorian members of
quechua have a grammar that is sufficiently similar so that such a book is
possible and is more a formalisation of existing rules than a choice of
new rules. That's also why I tend to think that attributing a new language
code is maybe a bit excessive since it is not only but essentially a new
orthographic convention.

On the common grammar between member languages inside Ecuador, the
interested people may have a look at the following article (in Spanish) :
Notas sobre el verbo quichua : Morfología (Consuelo Yánez Cossio, 1974,
revista de la Universidad Católica, pp. 41-62),
which shows that the grammatical structure does not differ strongly
between member languages in Ecuador. This article is based on informants
from the qvi, qug and qvj member languages, and only in a few cases the
author had to mention differences in the grammar, not meaning that there
are not significant differences in the pronounciation and vocabulary,
there are - for the pronounciation, they are systematically analyzed in
the previous article in the previous paper of the same journal (same
author, pp. 25-40 - the choices made later for the orthographical
unification are in my opinion largely based on this paper).

Yours sincerely,

Sylvain Mailler

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