Review period; Nepali and Oriya

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Aug 25 01:57:47 CEST 2012

If I understand what Mark is saying, that sounds like the approach Gary Simons and I initially took when we started working on how to integrate the inventory in Ethnologue 14 with what was already in ISO 639-2: we adopted a "major language variety" principle -- essentially, assume the definition of the existing ISO identifiers to be whatever rises to the top as the major variety within a set of closely related languages (with a set of indicating criteria defined for how to pick out "major" varieties). However, when we looked at pre-existing practice with ISO 639-2, including both usage in MARC and also in RFC 3066, it quickly became clear that that approach would be a very significant departure from pre-existing practice.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at] On Behalf Of John Cowan
Sent: August 23, 2012 4:36 PM
To: Mark Davis ☕
Cc: Peter Constable; ietf-languages at; Doug Ewell
Subject: Re: Review period; Nepali and Oriya

Mark Davis ☕ scripsit:

> For stability, it would be better to interpret each code when defined 
> as the predominant form (eg Arabic = MSA), and then add additional 
> language codes for mutually-incomprensible forms whenever they can be 
> clearly identified.

The only way to know if that promotes stability is to know what's been done.
If we know that "ar" has been used only for MSA in the past, then it's stabilization to to interpret it so now.  If we know the opposite, then it's stabilization to interpret it more widely now.  If we don't know, we have to guess.

> Simply the fact that some Swiss German data in 2000 was tagged as 'de'
> shouldn't be taken as evidence that 'de' encompasses it; it was 
> probably just the 'best available choice'.

I can't tell if this data is actual (and if so, what is it?) or hypothetical.

But that, he realized, was a foolish            John Cowan
thought; as no one knew better than he          cowan at
that the Wall had no other side.      
        --Arthur C. Clarke, "The Wall of Darkness"

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