New variant subtags for Serbian language

Doug Ewell doug at
Tue Nov 19 23:44:15 CET 2013

CE Whitehead <cewcathar at hotmail dot com> wrote:

> Thus my purpose was to say that whether these have sh- as the macro-
> language, or whether one is considered a variant of Bosnian, should
> depend on how current internet content in these languages is
> classified/tagged.

When we speak of "macrolanguages" in relation to the Registry, most of
the time we really mean "language subtags that can be followed by
extended language ('extlang') subtags." They are not exactly the same

'sh' (equivalent to 'hbs' in ISO 639-3) is defined as a macrolanguage in
ISO 639-3, and therefore it has the field "Scope: macrolanguage" in the
Registry. There are also languages such as Bosnian that are encompassed
by 'sh' in ISO 639-3, and they have the field "Macrolanguage: sh" in the
Registry. These Registry fields are informative; they tell the user how
ISO 639-3 has classified these languages.

However, there are NO extlang subtags in the Registry with 'sh' as a
Prefix, because "Serbo-Croatian" was not one of the macrolanguages that
was "determined by the LTRU Working Group to have been used to represent
a single dominant language as well as the macrolanguage as a whole."

In other words, members of the LTRU WG determined that the term
"Serbo-Croatian" was not in common use as simply another word for
"Serbian" or any other individual, "dominant" language. This is
different from the situation for, say, Arabic or Chinese. You might need
a tag that says "Chinese, by which I mean Mandarin," but you would not
need a tag that says "Serbo-Croatian, by which I mean Bosnian." Thus
there is no use case (other than pedagogy) for a tag like "sh-bs", and
so this tag is not provided for.

For more information, check sections 3.1.10 and 3.1.11 of RFC 5646, and
Section 2.2 of RFC 5645.

Hope this helps,

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA | @DougEwell ­

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