Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Tue Apr 7 17:48:38 CEST 2015

Kent Karlsson <kent.karlsson14 <at> telia.com>

> Well, http://www.native-languages.org/languages.htm has a direct
> link from "Mingo" to the page for "Seneca". And that page appears
> credible...

"Appears credible" doesn't sound any more authoritative to me than the
mingolanguage.org page Kent dismissed as personal opinion and

I have a suspicion that among those of us on this list who don't know
much about Mingo, which is to say, all of us, any preference toward
encoding it as a dialect of Seneca rather than a separate language may
be rooted in our process and a false sense of urgency.

To encode it as a dialect, we just register a variant. We've done it
many times.

To encode it as a language, we first have to submit a proposal to ISO
639-3/RA, wait for at least one of their annual review cycles (some
requests carry over into multiple cycles), and then, if the RA rejects
it, we venture into uncharted territory and try to register a 5- to
8-letter primary language subtag. There would likely be tremendous
pushback from ietf-languages participants, some of whom would cite the
RFC, which says not once but twice:

"Future registrations of this type are discouraged: an attempt to
register any new proposed primary language MUST be made to the ISO 639
registration authority. Proposals rejected by the ISO 639 registration
authority are unlikely to meet the criteria for primary language subtags
and are thus unlikely to be registered." (Section 2.2.1)

"Before attempting to register a language subtag, there MUST be an
attempt to register the language with ISO 639. [...] If ISO 639 has
previously rejected a language for registration, it is reasonable to
assume that there must be additional, very compelling evidence of need
before it will be registered as a primary language subtag in the IANA
registry (to the extent that it is very unlikely that any subtags will
be registered of this type)." (Section 3.6)

Faced with this, it's no wonder that the easiest way out is to treat
Mingo as a dialect. *But that's not the criterion we should use.* If we
absolutely have to change the encoding of Mingo, it should be encoded as
what it is, not what is easiest and quickest for us to push through our

Note that the existing grandfathered tag doesn't commit to whether Mingo
is a dialect or a language, although Sean Burke's 2003 registration form
cites a book called "An Introduction to the Mingo Language."

The real question is whether this really, really has to be changed RIGHT
NOW. And my response is, no, it doesn't, not at all, not for a
language/dialect with under 100 speakers.

If we must register a regular subtag to replace "i-mingo", let's let ISO
639-3/RA be the experts instead of trying to play that role ourselves.

Doug Ewell | http://ewellic.org | Thornton, CO 🇺🇸

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