Basic English

Michael Everson everson at
Thu Nov 26 22:31:17 CET 2015

On 26 Nov 2015, at 18:16, Shawn Steele <Shawn.Steele at> wrote:

> Presumably libraries won't fail because there's no tag for Basic English. Basic English has never had a tag before, and that hasn't prevented books from being written in it, nor libraries from including it in their catalog.

The same can be said for any of the varieties of subtags we have for other dialects of English or Scots or anything. 

> It seems like if a subtag for Basic English is interesting, then subtags for all of the others like Anglic, Amxrikai Spek, etc. creations should also be allowed.

They have not been disallowed. There also isn’t a body of work in them, or a 27,000-word novel of some importance. 

> That level of detail under an "en" tag seems likely to disrupt library classification systems that currently tend to put constructed languages in their own unique place.

Constructed languages and engineered languages are not precisely the same things. Of course there is grey area. This is language. 

> A library probably wouldn't want to file these constructed English texts with English, and they're likely of most interest to academics and others interested in constructed languages.  It doesn't make sense from a librarians point of view to shelve Basic English "Alice in Wonderland" next to English "Alice in Wonderland", the same way I wouldn't shelve a German version in the same section.

We can distinguish between Scots and Ulster Scots. There are other varieties too. We can distinguish between Scouse and now Cornu-English. Shelving will occur according to the LOC system or Dewey Decimal or whatever. But library databases and other databases of bibliographic meta-data can contain language tag information which can, eventually, assist people in finding things. 

> I wonder if there should be a subtag to indicate constructed variants, and then include a bunch of the known constructed variants of English?

Which ones have a corpus significant enough to matter? I don’t advocate assigning subtags because something exists. But for important works it makes sense. 

Michael Everson *

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