request for subtag for Elfdalian

Mats Blakstad mats.gbproject at
Sat Mar 5 12:32:48 CET 2016

2016-02-29 17:48 GMT+01:00 Peter Constable <petercon at>:

> I had a social visit with old SIL colleagues a few weeks back, and while
> at their center Dallas had a chance to chat with some of the people working
> on 639-3. They are looking at situations like Elfdalian and trying to
> assess how the criteria given in 639-3 can be refined. It's clear that
> every effort at language coding has faced challenges in applying some
> criteria for categorizing language varieties. This is true for 639-3,
> though the 639-3 RA are the only ones I've seen really trying to grapple
> with finding the right model that makes sense from both sociolinguistic and
> IT perspectives. What the Elfdalian case has encountered is questions as to
> whether there is a set of criteria that apply in exactly the same way in
> all sociolinguistic contexts, or if there should be some adjustment in the
> criteria for different sociolinguistic contexts.
> The key factor in regard to sociolinguistic context is the degree to which
> language standardization has occurred within the same language family and
> region.
> I'm sure RA try their best to do a good job, and their halfhearted
rejection statement show that the decision was not easy. However, I think
they struggle more with politics than linguistics in this issue.

> Consider, for example, Zapotec language varieties. If someone were to do
> some on-the-ground research on intelligibility levels and comes back saying
> that the variety spoken in San Such-and-such village should be considered a
> distinct language, the only questions will be whether the research needs
> additional corroboration. And nobody ever questions that English or French
> are languages. Those are the easy ends of the spectrum.
> But now suppose we were evaluating, on the one hand, whether a particular
> Romani community in Great Britain spoke a distinct Romani language, and
> whether the colloquial English variety spoken in Inverness should be
> considered a distinct language. Here, the contexts are different because of
> the degree of existing language standardization is so different. And the
> implications of the two changes are also different. If "Invernessese" is a
> distinct language, then that's a precedent to say there are lots of other
> distinct language that, until now, have been considered English dialects.
> I'm not sure about this comparison. It is not only a matter of
investigating intelligibility levels, but you also have to consider what
culture and local identity that have evolved around the language/variant.
The issue is not only that some linguistics from the outside came and found
out that Elfdalian/Övdalian variant is completely different from Swedish,
there is a local community that is consciously maintaining their language
and display linguistic self-determination.

Have there ever been any other application like this that have been
rejected? I asked the RA if there are similar issues and I got this answer:

*You might want to read the change request for 2914-007 (Jutish). In this
case it was a request to deprecate (retire) a code saying it was only a
dialect of Danish. We rejected the request, based on the quantity of
literature that had been written in the language. Combining Jutish would
reduce the information available to those trying to find that particular
literature. There is also a very long statement on Valencian which was not
given a code in 2006. *

However, to me these issues don't seem similar at all. These linguistic
variant are not by far as different as Elfdalian/Övdalian is from Swedish.
The RA also said that they worry about the implication of giving
Elfdalian/Övdalian status as a language. However, until now, I still lack
to see any comparable example of a linguistic group with such a significant
linguistic variant and with such a strong linguistic self-determination
that have also been rejected. I really don't think the implications of
giving Elfdalian/Övdalian status as language are so big, I can't imagine
this will lead to a big flood of language applications, it would be great
if someone could give a realistic example of the implications.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On
> Behalf Of Michael Everson
> Sent: Monday, February 29, 2016 4:28 AM
> To: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion <ietf-languages at>
> Subject: Re: request for subtag for Elfdalian
> On 29 Feb 2016, at 02:13, Mats Blakstad <mats.gbproject at> wrote:
> >
> > So who will write that appeal?
> You will, with some help from me, and hopefully from John and Mark and
> Doug and Peter. And anyone else on this list who wants to help.
> I have already written some argument, but as I say, we need to test this
> situation. Our standard should supplement the ISO standard, but where the
> RA has made an obvious mistake, they need to be told that their choice is
> going to cause problems if we go ahead and assign a code which they will
> certainly approve later anyway.
> > And could someone please explain more about "the ramifications it could
> have on data”?
> Data tagged with our subtag now will have that tag deprecated later. This
> is not a good idea.
> Michael Everson *
> _______________________________________________
> Ietf-languages mailing list
> Ietf-languages at
> _______________________________________________
> Ietf-languages mailing list
> Ietf-languages at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list