"Fransin" simplified orthography for French

Doug Ewell doug at ewellic.org
Mon Feb 13 20:22:57 CET 2017

Much of the discussion about this request seems to focus on whether the
spelling reform is a "good" one, specifically whether it makes phonetic
distinctions that are important in French.

Although that is an interesting side topic for a group interested in
languages, I hope any evaluation of the variant subtag request will not
be based on that. It is not the Reviewer's or this group's job to decide
whether Fransin or any other reformed orthography is a "good" system.
Instead, we should be following RFC 5646, Section 2.2.5 ("Variant
Subtags"), which says in its first sentence:

"Variant subtags are used to indicate additional, well-recognized
variations that define a language or its dialects that are not covered
by other available subtags."

We need to be sure we understand and agree on what "well-recognized"
means, and the Reviewer should decide whether Fransin fits that

I'll quote and paraphrase from the message Michael responded to, which
was sent to an incorrect address (ietf-language at iana.org, with the 's'
missing) and thus didn't make the list.

Fransin is a completely new system (identified by Pierre as "version
1.0"), initiated in September 2016, supported by an IT company with a
goal "to create and maintain... a community website" which allows
"registered people" to collaborate on the development of the system.
Eventually the company will provide machine-transcribed versions of
French texts, beginning with Wikipedia, and will investigate localizing
software into it, including "Fransin orthographic correctors for the
various existing Operating Systems."

Pierre claims that a published Wikipedia is necessary to meet these
goals, but Wikipedia has informed him that he needs "an official
language code for Fransin" before they will publish one.

"In summary: we need a French-language transcription code corresponding
to the Fransin ("ffs", "fs", etc.) The fransin is an evolutionary
transcription of French whose definition and becoming will be managed by
the community of people registered on the web site
‘www.fransin.org’. This website will be operated by our company
VECTALIS at the beginning, but by a non-profitable company as soon as we
consider that the project will be viable autonomously. The Fransin
transcription will have the particularity of having nearly no writer
(except our robot…) but a huge corpus available freely online (=
Wikipedia + digitized and royalty-free French works already transcribed
by our transcription robot).

"We believe that 2-3 years of full availability of the Wikipedia-Fransin
should allow us to see if this initiative finds an echo in the real word
or not. If we do not find any audience, we will give up the Fransin
project and its associated code."

My opinions, with hat off, and as one contributor among many:

This does not meet the criteria for a BCP 47 variant subtag. It is not
an established or well-recognized system, but one invented a few months
ago, which the creators hope will catch on (what Michael refers to as

The fact that Fransin is not finished or "static" is not the problem;
languages and even writing systems do change over time. The problem is
that nobody is currently using it. It is a new project which is being
given "2-3 years" to achieve some measure of success, like any corporate
project, and the inventors are seeking an "official" code to satisfy
Wikipedia's burden of proof of legitimacy.

The agencies charged with maintaining ISO 639, 3166, and 4217 get
requests like this every so often, to grant a code element for a new
constructed language or micronation or cryptocurrency, often hoping the
code element will imply endorsement of the entity by international
authorities and will increase its public acceptance. As Michael pointed
out, if public dissemination of the Fransin corpus is a goal, this could
be achieved using Wikia or another hosting service, which doesn't
require assignment of a standard code.

The Reviewer and other list contributors may have other opinions, but
whether the decision is to register a subtag for Fransin or not, it
should be based on the RFC 5646 criteria, and not on whether we think it
is a good solution or whether the creators need a stamp of approval in
order to support their project.
Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, US | ewellic.org

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