Registration request for new subtag

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Nov 16 01:16:32 CET 2013

Not being an expert in these varieties, I have no strong reason to believe that "dialect" wouldn't be correct. But there have been statements that do call this into question:

- The registration request has the statement, "There is low mutual intelligibility between the dialects."
- Mats indicated that content will have to be translated separately for two varieties. 
- Ethnologue indicates that there is a standard orthography for Kabuverdianu. That suggests that the distinctions in question are not orthographic alone, and that at least one or the other may not be the same language as that assumed in "standard" literature.

Those statements, make me a bit inclined to take as the null hypothesis that these are separate languages and ask for explanation as to why that should not be the case. I'm reminded that just a few years ago the ISO 639 JAC had to deal with splitting off Latgalian from Latvian. This was actually non-trivial. If this current case later becomes like the Latgalian case, with a request to split off another language from Kabuverdianu, then having that happen some years down the road after variant subtags are registered will make things far more complicated than figuring it out right from the outset. I realize that Mats may be looking to get a tag now, but doing it wrong might result in much greater costs later.

Hence the questions I'm raising. I'm not completely satisfied simply because you're satisfied. I think it prudent to get more clarification on this situation before we rush in headlong.


-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: November 15, 2013 1:42 PM
To: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Registration request for new subtag

On 14 Nov 2013, at 17:44, Peter Constable <petercon at> wrote:

> If there is low mutual intelligibility between the varieties, that raises the question as to whether they should, instead, be considered distinct, individual languages - in which case separate ISO 639-3 IDs would be more appropriate than a variant subtag.

I'm satisfied that "dialect" is appropriate. I also would not want Mats and his colleagues to have to wait for ISO 639-3 to process their request. 

Michael Everson *

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