Macrolanguages (was: Re: BCP 47)

Doug Ewell doug at
Fri Mar 8 19:10:09 CET 2013

Re: Macrolanguages (was: Re: BCP 47)

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

>> implies that we can somehow override the RA's decision.
> Well, some implementations (I suspect all significant ones) *need* to
> override the RA's decision. For example, CLDR and people that use it
> normalize the predominant encompassed form to the macrolanguage, for
> compatibility. Implementations are just not going to change from using
> 'zh' or 'ar' to mean the predominant form.

That's not overriding the RA's decision to assign a macrolanguage.
That's just a matter of subtag choice. It's entirely consistent with the
RA's concept of macrolanguages, that in some cases it's appropriate to
think of one language, and in other cases it's appropriate to think of
multiple languages. The CLDR approach simply predetermines which of the
two roads to take.

Overriding the RA's decision would be saying, well, we think Swabian
should be encompassed by German even though the RA doesn't agree, so
we're going to go ahead and put it in the Registry anyway. Or, the RA
adds a new language code element or reclassifies an existing one as
encompassed by Arabic, but we don't agree, so we just won't add the
relationship or the extlang to the Registry. That's what we can't do,
and what some people (not necessarily Benson) seem to believe we can do.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA | @DougEwell ­

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