Add Likely Subtags first step

Doug Ewell doug at
Mon Jan 26 18:00:03 CET 2015

The existing tag "en-GB-oed" has the following Description field:

Description: English, Oxford English Dictionary spelling

I would have every expectation that the Description field for the new
variant would also refer to "Oxford English Dictionary spelling".

In that case, this variant would imply nothing about accent or
pronunciation. As such, it would be meaningless to tag spoken content
with this subtag, just as it would be meaningless to tag spoken content
as "en-fonipa" or "de-1901" or "el-polyton" or "ru-petr1708".

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, USA |
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Add Likely Subtags first step
From: Reece Dunn <msclrhd at>
Date: Mon, January 26, 2015 8:44 am
To: Caoimhin O Donnaile <caoimhin at>, doug at, 
Philip Newton <philip.newton at>
Cc: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion <ietf-languages at>

On 26 January 2015 at 13:13, Caoimhin O Donnaile
<caoimhin at> wrote:
> If the tags were only being used to tag written language, I think people
> would assume that en-oxford meant the spelling and standards adopted by the
> Oxford English Dictionary (en-GB but with -ize rather than -ise).

It depends on how the variant tag is defined. If the tag said "the
variety of English as prescribed by the Oxford English Dictionary", it
is clearly referring to the written form of English. This is like how
the 1901 variant states "Traditional German orthography" which clearly
refers to writing/spelling. It would then be akin to the 1694acad
variant for Early Modern French which refers to the "Dictionnaire de
l'académie françoise".

That said, because the OED gives pronunciations as well as specifying
orphogrophy, it can also be seen as describing speech (i.e. the RP
accent as described by the OED). What makes this even more confusing
is that the OED has changed over time. For example, the 2nd edition
makes a pronunciation distinction between horse and hoarse, while the
later versions do not (this distinction is common in pre-WW2 Britain,
Scottish English and some varieties of American English). I suspect
there are also orthographic differences between the editions (although
I haven't checked this).

What is less clear is dialect variant subtags (scouse, ulster) that
specify a given dialect, and derived languages like en-scotland
(Scottish Standard English) [1] and en-emodeng (Eaarly Modern
English). In these cases, they may refer to the written usage of the
language described, or to how it is pronounced, just like with en-US
and en-GB or fr-FR and fr-CA. This is because dialects (as opposed to
accents) are both written and spoken variations on a given language.

[1] The Wikipedia entry
( states that "Scottish
Standard English may be defined as "the characteristic speech of the
professional class [in Scotland] and the accepted norm in schools"."
The article refers to both pronunciation and dialect-specific writing

- Reece H. Dunn

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