Request to register private-use variant subtags

Doug Ewell doug at
Sun Apr 8 00:58:25 CEST 2012

My last comment for now, as I need to get back to work.

Gordon P. Hemsley wrote:

> In the particular code I'm working with at the moment (which I again
> assert should be irrelevant), an incoming language tag (e.g.
> representing a spellchecker dictionary) is processed and then the
> human-readable representation of that language tag is displayed to the
> user. How would it help the user to display "Code for uncoded script"?
> There would never be a spellchecker for an uncoded script, so why
> would I include it? This doesn't seem all that strange to me....

If you actually got an incoming language tag "en-Zinh", which would be 
pretty pointless on the part of the tagger, I would think you would want 
to display as much available information as you could. That's probably 
off-topic, though.

> With just a single valid (non-private-use) subtag and a single
> private-use subtag for each of language, region, script, and variant,
> there are 54 possible combinations, plus addition tests for other
> specific processing. I have generated these externally, and they
> remain static. There is no reason for me to generate any of these on
> the fly.

You are probably fine using 'invalid0'. I can offer you nothing more 
rock-solid than that.

> However BCP 47 "envisions" something is what is written in the
> standard itself. It seems to me that there are no restrictions in BCP
> 47 that say what I can or cannot do with existing private use subtags

I think you are right here.

> nor that prevent private use variant subtags from being added to the
> registry. If I am wrong on this, please show me.

I don't think it ever occurred to anyone, to be frank.

>> Sorry, you've reached the wrong audience here.
> This is the place to request registration of new subtags, is it not?

That was out of context. I was specifically replying to "checking the 
Registry for validity would require a much more complicated architecture 
than is currently in place." What I meant was "I, Doug, am the wrong 
audience to whom to argue that changing the Registry or the structure of 
BCP 47 is preferable to asking Gordon to change his software testing 

> Let's look at it from a different perspective: What if I had some
> internal orthographic convention that I used (perhaps a phonetic
> alphabet à la 'fonipa')? If I wanted to use a variant subtag to
> represent that, I'd have to come here to register that. But my
> orthographic convention isn't really useful to the world at large. Or
> maybe it's proprietary.
> My only other option would be to stick it at the end of the language
> tag in a -x- private use block. But that could be used for anything!
> Like, if I need to keep my 'mac' strings different from other strings,
> I might use 'en-US-x-mac'. Or I might use it to keep track of whose
> dictionary fork it is ('en-US-x-ghemsley'). Or any number of other
> possible uses. I'd have no way to keep my (internal) orthographic
> convention/variant separate from the arbitrary contents of the -x-
> private use extension.
> I don't think that's right.

That's how BCP 47 variants are. They can mean lots of different things.

> I _am_ talking to everyone on the list.

You are correct, and others on the list are perfectly at liberty to 
reply, and may well feel differently from me.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA | @DougEwell ­ 

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