Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

Peter Constable petercon at
Sun Apr 24 19:21:14 CEST 2016

Attitudes are important in deciding what to consider a distinct language, but can never be a sufficient criterion for asserting a distinction. 

An even stronger example than Montenegrin is common attitudes in Mixtec communities, as I heard reported by an expert on Mixtec languages: Apparently, it is common for people in Mixtec villages to consider the variety they speak to be a different language than every other Mixtec village, including then next village a few kilometers away even though linguistic and other sociolinguistic evidence clearly indicates otherwise.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Doug Ewell
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2016 10:03 AM
To: ietf-languages at
Subject: Re: Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

Mark Davis wrote:

> (* But there are many statements used as evidence that are very 
> unconvincing. For example, "According to Melerska (2011) 50% of the 
> parents, ... consider Elfdalian to be an independent language." There 
> are many cases where people consider their dialect to be a language, 
> as a matter of (understandable) pride. That does not establish that it
> is: the distinction between language and dialect need to be based on 
> the objective measure of intelligibility, not whether or not speakers 
> "think of it" as a language. With all due respect to Mencken, 
> "American" is not a language, for example; it is one of many varieties 
> of English.)

One is reminded of "Montenegrin," which is essentially Serbian with a lot of local pride, and with formal actions deliberately taken to simulate a language difference.

Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO 🇺🇸 

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