Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

Peter Constable petercon at
Tue Apr 26 16:59:47 CEST 2016

Microsoft will not be communicating with the RA.

I have occasional conversations with the RA (maybe once or twice a year); if I happen to be in conversation with the RA about this case, I don’t think I’d be mentioning any Microsoft-specific concerns.


From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mats Blakstad
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 7:29 AM
To: lucp at
Cc: ietf-languages <ietf-languages at>
Subject: Re: Appeal to ISO 639 RA in support of Elfdalian

I think Luc sums this up good.
The RA gets chance to take action, and if they don't at least I have the 5-letter language subtag, and I can investigate more on which applications that manage to use it. I will still file a new ISO639 application and if that one is also rejected then I guess we at least have the 5-letter language subtag. If the process of assigning language codes to languages can't be fixed I guess some languages simply needs to get their codes assigned like this. If it will be impossible to implement 5-letter subtags on applications I can of course try promote a private subtag, even though I guess I will also get a hard time to make applications support it.
If people in Microsoft are worried about this issue, they should also let the RA know that and explain them why they want to avoid that situation. I guess the issue is now not only about linguistics vs politics, but also gets a very practical side that I hope the RA are going to be pragmatic about.

About the macro-language discussion; The RA needs to find out what they think is best. The important thing is to get a code. However, if they recode Swedish to a macro-language and creates 2 new codes for Swedish and Elfdalian - to me it would be like a comedy...

2016-04-26 14:41 GMT+02:00 Luc Pardon <lucp at<mailto:lucp at>>:

On 25-04-16 18:51, Doug Ewell wrote:
>> Then if the RA is still no ready to assign a language code, then IETF
>> > should be ready to assign his own language subtag.
> Keep in mind that such a subtag would be 5 to 8 letters. You have said
> previously that this wouldn't work for you.

That is not my understanding.

Mats has even filed a registration form for a 5-letter non-ISO primary
language subtag "ovdal", that is pending since February 29.


And on 24-04-16, the day before you said the above, Mats wrote:

> I still don't understand why a 5-letter subtag would be a problem.

The draft appeal gives three reasons, but neither of them seem very
convincing to me. It says:

> (a) There is the possibility of conflict or redundancy if the RA later approves a code element.
> (b) Some processes are incompatible with 5- to 8-letter language subtags, which would not be beneficial to Elfdalian data.
> (c) While it is an option for BPC 47, it would decouple BCP 47 from ISO 639-3 in a way which neither we nor the ISO 639 RA may want.

As to (a), if/when such an approval ever happens, couldn't we simply
insert the new ISO code in the registry and deprecate "our" 5-letter
subtag in favour of it?

If yes, chances are that the RA will know that as well.

As to (b), I tend to agree that it might be inconvenient at first. But
in the end, either the broken process should be fixed, or users of
Elfdalian could look for alternatives.

They could be up and running long before we finish this byzantine debate
on how to tell the RA that he made a mistake without telling him that he
made a mistake.

Besides, we have Mats asking for a 5-letter subtag, so he seemingly
doesn't share our concern that it is "not beneficial to Elfdalian data".

If the RA is indeed monitoring this list, he will probably have noticed
that as well.

As to (c), that is the only real concern I can see, but unprecedented
situations do call for unprecedented solutions.

Besides, if (a) happens, we immediately deprecate, the decoupling would
be undone and (c) would evaporate.

So the RA may not see it as a problem if we drift apart for a "short"

What am I missing here?


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