Re: Plane 14 redux (was: Same language, two locales)

From: John Cowan (
Date: Sat Sep 02 2000 - 16:56:12 EDT

> Peter Constable <> wrote:
> I have heard this claim before, and the strong impression I get (please
> correct me if I am wrong, Peter) is that the writer really doesn't like
> Plane 14 language tags and wants to discourage their use.

Not improbable. The Unicode Consortium invented these tags because
an IETF WG was threatening to fork the UTF-8 standard to carry language
information in plain text, specifically in the human-readable error
messages of a protocol. Plane 14 headed them off at the pass.

> As I have said before, I think UTR #7 should be strengthened so that it
> not only specifies the format of language tags, but does so by referring
> *directly* to ISO 639 and 3166 instead of through RFC 1766, and it
> should make the format normative to the Technical Report (not, of
> course, to Unicode proper) instead of "suggesting" it.

I agree with most of this, except for bypassing RFC 1766 and its eventual
successor. ISO 639 has very definite rules about what languages can and
cannot get coded, which most of the languages of the world, even the
written languages, don't meet. There is need for a general, extensible
language and language-variety tagging standard, and there is nothing
superior in flexibility and general acceptance to RFC 1766. Its
only real competitor is the SIL set, and an effort is underway to
incorporate it en masse (or nearly so) into the RFC 1766 registry.

John Cowan                         
"[O]n the whole I'd rather make love than shoot guns [...]"
	--Eric Raymond

On Sat, 2 Sep 2000, Doug Ewell wrote:

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