Region subtags and orthographic variants (was: Re: registration requests re Portuguese)

Mark Davis ☕️ mark at
Thu Apr 16 04:13:13 CEST 2015

On Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 9:30 PM, Doug Ewell <doug at> wrote:

> It's well understood that the model is not perfect,
> because language usage does not follow political borders perfectly and
> we do not live in the world of Henry Higgins. If this model had never
> existed, BCP 47 would have used variants to denote all regional
> varieties of this sort, not just the ones more narrowly associated with
> Texas or Boston or Thornton.

​I just want to point out that while not perfect, the model of using
country codes captures a great many useful distinctions. Many distinctions
in language variants *do* line up between countries, since they are often
the entities that establish conventions for the standard written forms in
government usage and education. And those written forms are the key issues
for many, many products.

Most importantly, it is a simple generative model. For my product, if I
need a distinction between German (Germany) and German (Switzerland) —for
example, because of the different spelling formats for ss/ß—it is trivial
for me to produce conformant BCP47 tags.

Think of the truly hellish situation we'd be in if that generative
capability didn't exist: if whenever someone wanted to make a such a
distinction, they had to go through a registration process like for ao1990!

Mark <>

*— Il meglio è l’inimico del bene —*
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