Language Subtag Registration

Phillips, Addison addison at
Fri Oct 30 17:15:02 CET 2015

Yes. And similarly, eliminating the prefix to allow additional tagging choices, many/most of which will be unwise, is not necessarily a reason not to do it. Unwise-yet-valid tagging choices exist all over (tlh-Cyrl-AQ). On the other hand, this list has historically been reluctant to create "general purpose" variants because the meaning tends to be much more tenuous the less specific the subtag becomes.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On
> Behalf Of John Cowan
> Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 8:31 AM
> To: Peter Constable
> Cc: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion; amir.aharoni at
> Subject: Re: Language Subtag Registration
> Peter Constable scripsit:
> > Kent, it seems to me that that would make the meaning of the subtag
> > completely opaque, determined solely in a private context. In that
> > case, a private-use tag would suffice.
> I don't see that a tag "simple" would be opaque, just because there is no
> single precise definition of it.  There is no single precise definition of "en-us"
> either.
> From Lytton Strachey's _Eminent Victorians_:
>     The members of the English Church had ingenuously imagined up
>     to that moment that it was possible to contain in a frame of
>     words the subtle essence of their complicated doctrinal system,
>     involving the mysteries of the Eternal and the Infinite on the
>     one hand, and the elaborate adjustments of temporal government
>     on the other. They did not understand that verbal definitions
>     in such a case will only perform their functions so long as
>     there is no dispute about the matters which they are intended
>     to define: that is to say, so long as there is no need for
>     them. For generations this had been the case with the Thirty-nine
>     Articles. Their drift was clear enough; and nobody bothered over
>     their exact meaning. But directly someone found it important to
>     give them a new and untraditional interpretation, it appeared
>     that they were a mass of ambiguity, and might be twisted into
>     meaning very nearly anything that anybody liked.
> So it is with language tags: their drift is clear enough, and it is not necessary to
> know their exact meaning.  People who are going to abuse them will do so
> anyway, whatever we say or do to try and stop them.
> --
> John Cowan        cowan at
>         Sound change operates regularly to produce irregularities;
>         analogy operates irregularly to produce regularities.
>                 --E.H. Sturtevant, ca. 1945, probably at Yale
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