Re: Request for Comments: Language Codes

From: Eric Brunner (
Date: Fri Jun 11 1999 - 21:30:04 EDT

At 10:15 AM 6/11/99 -0700, John Cowan wrote:
>Eric Brunner wrote:
>> Please have a look at the table contained in the final 2/3rds of Harald's
>> current draft, for errors and omissions. If someone would go to the SISLA
>> and SIL sites and save me some work I'd really appreciate it.
>Note that that stuff is non-normative in Harald's draft. It comes
>from ISO 639-2, and if any of it is broken,
>it is only ISO (and/or the registrar) who can fix it, not Harald
>or the IETF.

I'm not assuming that iso639 is any less impossible to fix than iso3166.

The limitations on the sucessor document to rfc1766 however are something
I'm less certain are fixed. Harald can always tell me to get real and use
a real language -- say US English in ASCII-7 encoding, though I'm a BCD

Besides Keld's tables are ... not a joke, neh?
>> is computer support for "minority languages" part of the
>> of those languages?
>ISO 639 has nothing to do with computers necessarily; it works
>equally well on old-fashioned library catalog cards. It is a way
>of labeling languages with 2-letter or 3-letter codes, that's all.

It is how we name locales in the XPG3 derived world, and as non-portable as
locale(1) and localedef(8) are, and as vendor-ideosyncratic as the location
of each is within the XPG4.2 et seq. namespace, the naming convention is an
aid to distributed heterogenous collaborative work. Writing locales, whether
in a diacritically simplified marginally 8859-1 script, or something still
at the 19th century "speed writing" stage, is a different problem.

Bar codes work on bananas too.

>> The hack for doing standard support (in the IETF) for languages not covered
>> in either iso639 or iso639-2 is a language tag registration, with the IANA,
>> the same folks several of us have gone to for a top-level domain, without
>> success. There are only two which have been granted, and these are both in
>> the 2nd and 3rd parts of this message.
>About five went through a few weeks ago, including i-klingon.

Not indigenous to the Americas, but funny. I'll mention it to the other lists,
should get a chuckle or two.

>> The IANA language tag registration brings up more issues:
>> is the reference authoritative (and who is the authority)?
>IETF is the authority.

An authority is the living language community, not a dated memo an anthro
sketched, or worse. Another authority is a community which is responsible
for a critical text. Their "authorities" differ. Your interpretation was
one I missed.

>> Kitakitamatsinopowaw,
>> Eric
>You never did tell me whether my attempt to render this word
>into UCAS was correct or not.

Try faxing the glyps to 781 359 5196, along with the code points. If you are
looking for texts in modern siksika just drop me a line.


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