Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Apr 23 06:07:15 CEST 2016


Based on information I've heard about linguistic distinctness β€” and I have no reason not to trust the combined sources of that information β€” I have been persuaded that Elfdalian should be coded as a separate language.

However, I am concerned about process. Because of my involvement in the development of the ISO 639-3 standard proper (not the maintenance processes of the RA), I am aware of complaints that some linguists have made that the RA does not have an open-enough process. I have found those complaints surprising because I find the RA to have as open a process as I've seen in anything comparable regarding proposals, comments on those proposals, and decisions: everything is publicly documented and far more publicly visible than the ISO 3166 maintenance process, or the ISO 15924 maintenance process, or the Unicode / ISO 10646 process, or even the ietf-languages process. I have found those complaints to be entirely without warrant. Even so, some have complained all the same. And that contributed to starting a process to revise the ISO 639-3, initially with a direction that could have ended up being hugely disruptive for BCP 47.

Now we are asking the RA to engage in a different, not publicly-visible process. The only justification I see given is that people don't want to wait through 8 months with uncertainty about the outcome. I completely understand that waiting 8 months may be inconvenient for some. But what people are not considering is that, for the RA, to engage in a non-public process may be _far, far more damaging_ to them. And as I've seen, that kind of damage to the RA could potentially lead to damage for BCP 47.

For my part, I think it wiser not to push the RA in a direction that this list might later come to regret.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Doug Ewell
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2016 9:02 AM
To: Michael Everson <everson at>; ietflang IETF Languages Discussion <ietf-languages at>
Subject: Re: Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

> Does anyone want his or her name on this appeal?

Please add me to it.

I went into this Elfdalian language vs. dialect debate neutral, but have been persuaded by the evidence.

Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ 

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