Language for taxonomic names, redux

Doug Ewell doug at
Fri Feb 24 20:16:19 CET 2017

> I would also like other members of this list to be explicit about their
> support. misgivings, or disapproval of the scheme.
I'm fairly opposed, mostly because of the slippery-slope issue.
Taxonomic names are not a language (sorry, Yury, they're not) and we
can't even agree on what language they're a variant of (I would strongly
argue Latin). Like Mark, I can easily imagine future requests for things
like "business speak" or "bureaucratese" or Cockney rhyming slang or
blazon, that cite this proposal as a justification that these things are
also in scope for BCP 47.
I understand that taxonomic names are an extremely well-understood
concept and do have a relationship of some sort to language. If the
registration form (not the record, and note that neither exists yet in a
modern form) were modified to state explicitly that this proposed subtag
does not set any precedent for encoding other systems of nomenclature or
terminology, and if I felt assured that the list would honor that, my
opposition would be noticeably lessened.

On other issues...

Wikipedia taxoboxes already have built-in clues that strongly imply
"this field is a scientific name." I'm not sure how a language tag would
improve things here. I understand there may be other uses for this
subtag, not nearly so heavily emphasized in this thread.
The speech synthesis problem seems more complex than this approach could
solve. Different people, speaking the same or different languages, do
pronounce biological names differently. Trying to dictate a single,
correct pronunciation that all should use has never been a goal of BCP
47 language tagging. Speech synthesizers already need to deal with
loanwords, as well as native words with multiple pronunciations (English
has many, but they exist in other languages too).
I'm not worried about the number of people who might use this subtag.
We've registered plenty of subtags that I suspect see less use than this
one would (the Resian sub-sub-sub-dialects come to mind).

I am convinceable, but I would need good evidence.
Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, US |

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