Macrolanguages (was: Re: BCP 47)

Peter Constable petercon at
Sun Mar 10 04:53:39 CET 2013

Swabian was not defined in 639-3 as being encompassed in a de macrolanguage because there was nothing indicating a need to treat de as a macrolanguage. I can say with some degree of certainty that macrolanguages weren't created with any intent of comprehensively capturing certain kinds of linguistic relationships between language varieties. Rather, they were created as a practical compromise to deal with existing uses of 639-1/-2 IDs that were inconsistent in and of themselves, or inconsistent with the sources (Ethnologue 14th Edn and Linguist List) used to extend the set of languages in 639-2.

E.g., if tags like zh-yue had not been registered under the terms of RFC 1766, then zh might have been equated with Mandarin only and not been treated as it was as a macrolanguage encompassing Chinese languages spoken in China.

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