Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Apr 22 20:09:27 CEST 2016

Peter Constable scripsit:

> The RA has an established process.

Indeed.  It is the view of the signatories that the RA, while in formal
compliance with its own process, has violated the substance of that
process, apparently (so far as the record shows) coerced or convinced
by a party who has in the past held ISO 639 to ransom until its demands
were acceded to.

> Are we trying to by-pass it under the threat of creating a subtag that
> could create future conflicts?

The letter is not an ultimatum.  It is a démarche with a time limit.
The proper use of this group's constitutional powers cannot be a threat to
the RA (though there are circumstances in which it may harm the interests
of third parties).  Furthermore, we are discussing "preparations, not
operations"; the five-letter tag still might not come to pass.

Specifically, it is improbable that if the Elfdalian interest accepted a
long tag from us, the RA would act _suo sponte_ to create a competing
three-letter tag.  The risks would be that any process or product
that conforms strictly to ISO 639-3 would not accept our tag, and that
processes and products that do claim conformance to BCP 47 would expose
flaws in their conformance and refuse to fix them.  In such a situation,
the Elfdalians would be no worse off than before.

And who knows?  The assignment of the first five-letter language tag
might be picked up by the press and create some publicity for BCP 47.

> Lots of people learn to accept that some things take time. You
> yourself have in the past made people wait years for something that
> had significant business need to a broad range of users, and that
> everybody else saw was a reasonable request. I think the appeal has
> merit, but I'm really not convinced it is more urgent than lots of
> other things that just take time to be done right.

The RA has not pleaded lack of time to make a decision, so that argument
is moot.  What is more, registration does not in itself cost substantial
time, unlike the assignment of Unicode characters.

John Cowan        cowan at
That you can cover for the plentiful and often gaping errors, misconstruals
and disinformation in your posts through sheer volume -- that is another
misconception.  --Mike to Peter

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