Language for taxonomic names, redux

Peter Constable petercon at
Thu Feb 23 05:39:08 CET 2017

Even if this is used on "hundreds of thousands of English-language Wikipedia articles", I'm still not convinced that the need goes beyond 

- having a way to select spans or other elements for applying particular styling (a CSS class will do)

- having a way to keep words not supported in English spelling dictionaries from being marked as false-positive mis-spellings (lang="zxx" or lang="und" would do)

I can understand that it might be helpful to have them tagged so that TTS accessibility tools can provide a helpful reading, but I am skeptical that we'll see dedicated TTS engines for this terminology.

As for a kind of tag or subtag, what we're discussing is a set of terminology, not a distinct language. It seems to me these should treated (if we create some new (sub)tag) in one of the following ways:

- They're considered to be in some variant of the Latin language -- hence "la" plus a variant subtab.

- They're deemed to be borrowings or specialized lexical extensions into English or other languages -- hence "en" etc. plus a variant subtag.

- They're treated as special things that don't belong to any language -- hence "und" plus a variant subtag.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ietf-languages [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 6:58 PM
To: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion <ietf-languages at>
Subject: Re: Language for taxonomic names, redux

> On 22 Feb 2017, at 23:57, Andy Mabbett <andy at> wrote:
> On 22 February 2017 at 21:25, Michael Everson <everson at> wrote:
>> It would be interesting to see the discussion thread on Wikimedia/Wikipedia about a wiki-wide tagging of scientific names. Can you provide a link?
> Which discussion?

You said:

> Indeed, as soon as a tag is available, I shall see that it is used in literally hundreds of thousands of English-language Wikipedia articles about taxons, more again in other languages, as well as hundreds of thousands more in Wikispecies, and a even larger number of taxonomic items in Wikidata.

Surely if planning such sweeping changes you’ve discussed this with members working on:

Because if this idea of yours were a good idea, then it would need to be Wikipedia policy. Otherwise you could alter 50,000 pages and unless you were tracking all of them your tagging would be lost and the effort wasted.

Michael Everson
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