Re: (iso639.184) Plane 14 redux (was: Same language, two locales)

From: John Cowan (
Date: Tue Sep 12 2000 - 14:05:44 EDT

"Christopher J. Fynn" wrote:

> I think a clear distinction may need to be made between those languages which
> are commonly written and those which are (largely) only spoken. Outside the
> realm of specialised applications for linguists, most applications currently
> only deal with written languages and scripts and it is only confusing (and
> storing up problems) to add codes for spoken languages and dialects to that
> list of tags.

What about metadata attached to audio objects? Surely the
most elementary fact about a non-musical audio object is what language is being
> Looking over the Ethnolouge codes for "Bodhic" languages it seems quite clear
> that most of the codes listed are for distinctive spoken languages and
> dialects - literate speakers of most of these languages have one
> written/literary language "Tibetan" which they share in common - though if
> they tried to speak to each other they might have a great deal of difficulty
> understanding each other.

Precisely why audio objects need systematic tagging.

> In short I favour inclusion of codes for written languages in the Ethnolouge
> list which are currently missing in ISO 639 (and the requirement for a certain
> number of publications does not seem too onerous) - but do not favour the
> adoption of all the languages in the Ethnolouge list wholesale
> at this time as many of these appear to be only spoken languages or distinct
> dialects.

RFC 1766 already registers several languages, notably the zh-* family, that
do not have distinct written forms.

There is / one art                   || John Cowan <>
no more / no less                    ||
to do / all things                   ||
with art- / lessness                 \\ -- Piet Hein

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