Early Modern English

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Thu Jan 12 23:13:56 CET 2012

Mark Davis ☕ <mark at macchiato dot com> wrote:

> Choosing such names, in my opinion, just is pointlessly obscure for
> users of BCP47, and make-work for this committee. It would be far
> better to have understandable names like:
> en-middle

Hypothetically, of course, since we are talking about Early Modern
English and not Middle English ('enm').

> Initially have a prefix of 'en' and then have the description be:
> For English, the period from YYY to ZZZ
> // or whatever is the appropriate description
> As additional languages are added, more prefixes and descriptions can
> be added. So in the future we could add :
> For Italian, the period from WWW to UUU
> // or whatever is the appropriate description

BCP 47, Section 3.5 (page 44) says:

  Requests to add a 'Prefix' field to a variant subtag that imply a
  different semantic meaning SHOULD be rejected. For example, a
  request to add the prefix "de" to the subtag '1994' so that the tag
  "de-1994" represented some German dialect or orthographic form would
  be rejected. The '1994' subtag represents a particular Slovenian
  orthography, and the additional registration would change or blur the
  semantic meaning assigned to the subtag. A separate subtag SHOULD be
  proposed instead.

A subtag like 'earlymod' that could indicate either "Early Modern
English" or "Early Modern Italian" would have two completely different
meanings, even if the time frames for Early Modern English and Early
Modern Italian happened to be identical. This is why we don't have
"hy-eastern" and "hy-western". (True generic variants like 'fonipa'
are a different story, since 'fonipa' always means "written in IPA"
regardless of prefix.)

That said, I do wish we could somehow embody the concept of "Early
Modern" in the name of the subtag under discussion. As Sean said, people
who deal with this particular language variety think in terms of "Early
Modern English", not Shakespearean English or Spenserian English or King
James Bible English. But in the end, it might be better to have this
subtag registered with an obscure or even misleading name than not
registered at all because we can't agree on a name.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, Colorado, USA | RFC 5645, 4645, UTN #14
www.ewellic.org | www.facebook.com/doug.ewell | @DougEwell ­

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