Re: RFC 1766 language tags

From: Martin J. Duerst (
Date: Sun Jun 15 1997 - 12:24:25 EDT

On Sun, 15 Jun 1997, John Clews writes:

> If user needs revolve around bibliographic requirements [books] it is
> worth bringing ISO/TC46/Joint Working Group on language codes into
> this discussion: currently nobody from that working group has been
> involved.

> (b) nobody in ISO/TC46/Joint Working Group on language codes seems to
> have considered this "sub-language" approach necessary, despite
> decades of actually using this in bibliographic records used
> worldwide;

> Are we in danger of spending too much time on unrequired detail?
> A code for Klingon can always be requested in any case from the
> ISO/TC46/Joint Working Group on language codes in any case, or from
> the ISO 639 maintenance Agency.

The use of language codes for bibliographic work, i.e. per-work metadata
mainly used for searching and identification, may very well be somewhat
or even totally different from the use for actual text markup for various
computer operations, such as spelling, grammar checking, text-to-speech,
fulltext searching and indexing, high-quality typography, and so on.

And the rather stable and controllable bibliographic environment may
indeed have much less use for hierarchical tags than the Internet with
very distributed facilities of all kinds.

To give an example of both points, it may well be enough for the
bibliographic community to have only a single identifier for English.
In particular for spell checking, however, one would like to have
both the distinction between US and British (and other) English,
as well as the facility of a fallback to the other if one of them
is not available. Here hierarchical identifiers are most probably
very helpful.

Regards, Martin.

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