request for subtag for Elfdalian

John Cowan cowan at
Mon Feb 29 01:54:49 CET 2016

Mats Blakstad scripsit:

> As I understand it the codes doesn't *represent* "names of languages", they
> *represent* languages.

The ISO 639 parts do, at least nominally, represent the names of languages.
BCP 47, which is our constitution, does not speak of names of languages
(except in citations) but of languages.  The distinction is perhaps

> For the subtag-code itself I guess it should not be
> base on the english name, but the autonym.

It varies.  Many 3-letter tags are not based on any name at all.

> I disagree, I think both ISO639/IETF are in fact responsible to keep up
> with terminology. The names are used on websites and softwares world wide.
> Of course we're responsible for keeping up with terms used. I agree we
> should changes term if they are offensive, but my impression is that you
> don't change language names at all? However, ISO639-3 does sometimes, but
> for ISO639-2 it seems a lot (too much) difficult. Not sure what policy IETF
> practice?

We don't normally remove language names once added, but we certainly can:
see Section 3.5 of RFC 5646 (the first part of BCP 47).  In general we
don't support translations into other languages, because they add no new
information.  In this case, I think we should make an exception.

John Cowan        cowan at
"The serene chaos that is Courage, and the phenomenon of Unopened
Consciousness have been known to the Great World eons longer than Extaboulism."
"Why is that?" the woman inquired.
"Because I just made that word up", the Master said wisely.
        --Kehlog Albran, The Profit

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