Web browsers and new versus old language codes

From: Alain LaBont/e'/ (alb@sct.gouv.qc.ca)
Date: Mon Feb 10 1997 - 10:52:27 EST

At 06:18 97-02-10 -0800, unicode@Unicode.ORG wrote:
>We have a problem with the language codes recognised by Web browsers.
>The standard mostly widely used in the Internet to specify language codes
>is ISO 639 - "Codes for the representation of names of languages" (see RFC
>1766 and RFC 2070).
>Some years ago, the ISO 639 Maintenance Agency amended the standard, adding
>three new language codes:
> Inuktitut iu
> Uigur ug
> Zhuang za
>and modifying three existing language codes:
> New code Old code
> Hebrew he iw
> Indonesian id in
> Yiddish yi ji
>The problems caused by the modification of existing codes have been
>discussed previously, as have the pros and cons of the ISO 639 standard and
>of the various competing standards and schemes. I don't want to waken those
>particular dragons.
>What I want to raise is a very particular problem: Two of the browsers that
>handle Hebrew (maybe this should read "The two browsers that handle
>Hebrew"), recognise the old language code ("iw") but not the new one ("he").
>This is very worrying. I hope the vendors will speedily enhance their
>products to recognise both the old and new codes.
>This leaves us with a very specific problem in regard to the IUC10 Web pages
>at <http://www.reuters.com/unicode/iuc10>. Should we use the old code for
>Hebrew, so that the browsers recognise it and display it, or the new one so
>as to encourage the vendors to fix their browsers, with the disadvantage
>that the text won't display correctly? We have deferred publishing the
>Hebrew, Arabic and Yiddish texts until we know how to resolve this (and some
>other problems).

Problem is that some old codes collide with new ones, as we have seen, so if
you choose a partial support or one of the other, you create a new
non-normalized standard. I don't know the solution to this. That is a mess
created not so wisely by the standardizers. But after all, in last analysis,
since the new one has created the defects, I would tend to recommend using
the old one, adding the new codes to it ): Sorry if that does not make sense
to some people.

Alain LaBonti

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:20:34 EDT