Serbo-Croatian continuum: the top level

Michael Everson everson at
Mon Mar 3 12:49:43 CET 2014

On 2 Mar 2014, at 19:39, John Cowan <cowan at> wrote:

> Well, the ax has dropped, and the ISO 639-3/RA
> has rejected the proposal to encode Kajkavian: see
> <>
> for details.  

I don’t understand it. 

>> The Registration Authority notes that the request has merit, that there seem to be parts of the Kaikavian language continuum that are not intelligible with the Shtokavian variety which is the basis for Croatian. But there is no way to recognize this language within the current constraints of the standard.

Why not?

>> Part 2 of the standard has chosen to recognize the languages of Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian, based on national boundaries rather than linguistic factors. 

Based on orthographic differences, I thought. 

>> Taken together, these form the macrolanguage Serbo-Croatian [hbs]. There is no way to recognize [hkj] Kaikavian as a new code within the current macrolanguage system 

No way? Why not? Add it to the list of things subsumed under “hbs”.

>> since it would involve splitting what is currently represented by [hrv] Croatian and this would in turn invalidate the use of that code to-date in library catalogs

Why exactly would this “split” Croatian? How is this different from Nynorsk/Bokmål and Norwegian? This is not really any different from any character disunification in Unicode. The user of “hbs” would just have to decide whether to use “hrv” or “hkj” and older date would just be what it was unless changed. 

Having said that, if Kajkavian is a dialect of Croatian, then we can just add a dialect tag.

Michael Everson *

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