Registration request for new subtags for Portuguese orthographies
doug at ewellic.org
Sat Mar 21 19:53:47 CET 2015
This is my summary of the arguments presented so far against registering
the Portuguese subtags, and why I feel the arguments do not (or should
not) preclude the registrations.
1. No authoritative wordlist is provided.
This might be instructive, but should not be mandatory as a condition of
registration. BCP 47 doesn't require one, and one has not been required
for past registrations.
We are not in the business of defining language variants themselves, but
of providing a way to tag reasonably well-defined variants, where
"reasonably well-defined" is not absolute and does not mean that
everyone likes it or agrees with it.
2. Wikipedia references are not sufficient.
Additional references were provided, including one from the Portuguese
Education Ministry, which helps to demonstrate that the reform "exists,"
irrespective of whether anyone approves of it or not.
3. The reform is controversial and has not been widely adopted.
The German reform of 1996 was controversial, and several publishers and
jurisdictions refused to implement it, but we registered subtags
(originally, RFC 3066 tags) to allow content to be tagged. We did not
try to weigh in on whether the reform was popular or "good."
The Belarusian variants ("academic" and Taraškievica) certainly ignited
a good deal of controversy and disagreement on this list, but both
variants were registered.
There are other examples from BCP 47 history.
4. Not all Portuguese-speaking countries have adopted it; the old law is
still in effect in many regions.
This is interesting from a legislative standpoint, but not from an
identification standpoint. Whether the law has been formally
"implemented" has nothing to do with whether the orthographic changes
exist or whether some writers are using it.
5. The reforms are unstable.
It seems to be true that the exact details of which changes will and
will not be adopted by which countries are unsettled. This is hardly
unusual for language. I'm sure the exact details of which Boontling
words were used by which residents, and during what time frame, were
never precisely specified. A variant subtag doesn't attempt to specify
6. Some content is a mixture of old and new orthographies; the reform is
not consistently applied.
As Mark said, this was famously true of the German reform; some
publishers and jurisdictions adopted some elements of the reform and not
others. This does not diminish the benefit of having subtags to identify
one orthography or the other. Not all language usage is internally
consistent, despite the best efforts of copy editors.
7. "There are legal suits pending in BR against ao90 more specifically
against the Academy."
This has no bearing on whether the orthographic changes exist, and any
such suits pose no threat to a group creating identifiers for the old
and new systems.
8. IETF standardizes (or should) things that are correct and true, not
those that are incorrect or false.
What IETF has standardized, in BCP 47, is a mechanism to tag linguistic
content and a mechanism to register subtags.
Neither IETF nor this group takes any stand on whether the Portuguese
reforms are "good."
9. "monstrosities... These are 'hyper-incorrect' forms resulting from
This statement confirms that the changes do exist and are not imaginary
or hypothetical. Spellings that someone may consider incorrect or
subliterate would seem to be most in need of tagging. And usage does
change; at one point the English terms "ice cream" and "donut" were
considered non-standard or subliterate.
"[Brazil] is full of illeterate translators who work cheaply."
"In [Brazil], where a staggering 80+ % of the population is either
illiterate or functionnally illiterate..."
"[T]here was never such a useless and botched spelling reform as this
one in the civilized world. The 1990 reform should be a case-study of
human stupidity and scientific incompetence. It is not conceivable that
such a thing could happen anywhere else in the 21st century."
There is, frankly, nothing to be gained in this debate by invoking
hyperbole or by insulting the Brazilian people. There is the
possibility, even for a distinguished professor, of losing a measure of
credibility by making such statements, particularly by citing statistics
that seem preposterous (UNICEF claims 90.4% literacy for adults in
Brazil; what definition of "functionally illiterate" explains this
11. [unstated but evident] Registration of these subtags would validate
the reform or give it some sort of official imprimatur.
It would do no such thing. BCP 47 is not in that business.
As João wrote, "That [the reform] exists and is used is a reality." This
is all that should matter to us. As an individual contributor, I support
registration of these subtags.
Doug Ewell | http://ewellic.org | Thornton, CO 🇺🇸
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