Basic English

Shawn Steele Shawn.Steele at
Thu Nov 26 23:07:21 CET 2015

I’m still a little confused how most of these are generally useful.  If I’m a user, how am I supposed to pick a subtag that makes sense to me?  Most OS’s don’t really expose that as a setting?  So if I go to wikipedia, wikipedia still has no clue that I’m interested in simplified English and has to ask me.

At that point it doesn’t really matter if something’s tagged en-perfecttag or en-x-pirate because we’ve already lost the interchange.  In the Basic English scenario Michael’s pretty much talking to himself (as far as I can tell, but I’m willing to be corrected), and most OS’s don’t make it easy to pick Basic English as an option for interchange, so the tag (or lack thereof) is pretty irrelevant.

In the Wikipedia scenario I still won’t pick simplified English because my OS doesn’t allow it (easily).  So then I have to pick it through wikipedia’s UI and they have to override what they hear on http-accept-language.

The wikipedia scenario withered away because we couldn’t figure out how to use it for interchange?


From: mark.edward.davis at [mailto:mark.edward.davis at] On Behalf Of Mark Davis ??
Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2015 10:34 AM
To: Shawn Steele <Shawn.Steele at>
Cc: Michael Everson <everson at>; ietflang IETF Languages Discussion <ietf-languages at>
Subject: Re: Basic English

At this point, I've pretty much given up on this process. Someone comes in with a legitimate need for variant that would be deployed on wikipedia (a pretty darn'd high-volume site), and be generally useful. What happens? This gets sidetracked into promoting an obscure variant that will get vanishingly small usage.​

I'll personally recommend in the future that people requesting anything useful to just not bother with a variant, and simply request instead a subtag with the -u- or -t- mechanisms, where the process has a sense of both perspective and utility.

Too bad; the variants are syntactically simpler, and could have been a useful mechanism.


On Thu, Nov 26, 2015 at 7:16 PM, Shawn Steele <Shawn.Steele at<mailto:Shawn.Steele at>> wrote:
So (ironically from me), where would we stop?

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.

This particular language is getting attention because at this moment Michael is interested in translating material to Basic English, desires a code for that work, and knows how to make a proposal.  There is also more historical writing in Basic English than in many of the other published varieties of English that have been experimented with, but probably less that 'simplified' English.

I don't want to start judging subtags on their merits, but it probably shouldn't be allowed to be a free-for-all.  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.  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.

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.

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

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