New variant subtags for Serbian language

Doug Ewell doug at
Tue Nov 19 19:21:21 CET 2013

CE Whitehead <cewcathar at hotmail dot com> wrote:

> According to Wikipedia's information
> (, Slovene/Slovenian,
> which is spoken in Yugoslavia,  and which is not grouped under the
> macrolanguage [sh], which is distinct from Serbo-Croation, is quite
> close to some of these dialects, such as Chakavian.

Slovene is almost never considered part of the Serbo-Croatian continuum,
regardless of how similar it may be genetically. It is not for us to
decide otherwise.

> This first option you suggest would have Chakavian as sh-hr-chakavsk,
> Serbian as sh-rs,

These are invalid tags, and I don't think they are what John was
suggesting anyway.

> and Slovene/Slovenian as sl, which does not really show linguistic
> relationships, but I agree with Doug that the real purpose of tags/
> subtags is not to show the linguistic relationships (which one can
> easily get wrong and have to revise) but to improve searches.

And furthermore, *like all subtags*, these new variants (if approved)
should be used *only* when it is important to specify that tagged
content is, or searched content should be, in one variety or the other.

>> 3) Create variant tags for them attached to the "sh" macrolanguage,
>> thus clarifying the denotation of "sh" as including the whole
>> continuum.
> This is how Wikipedia classifies these.  So doing so might help those
> who follow Wikipedia's scheme get search results.

If you mean Wikipedia's internal language coding system (as opposed to
the content of its articles), this is not relevant since that system
does not use BCP 47.

> A question: do we need to decide this now too, or can we just approve
> the two current proposed language codes?

The Registrar can approve some subtags that fit an agreed-upon model
now, and more later. The error would be in approving some subtags now
and then changing the model later, so that the subtags have to be
deprecated (as was done with 'heploc').

Additional prefixes can also be added to existing variants. So it is not
necessary to decide right now, once and for all, which Serbo-Croatian
languages exist in which dialectical varieties.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA | @DougEwell ­

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