RE: [OT] Re: the Ethnologue

Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 14:25:18 EDT

On 09/17/2000 08:02:20 PM John Cowan wrote:

>> Where I see using the SIL is as an extension of the ISO standard.
>RFC 1766 exists to allow flexible extension to the ISO standard.
>> If there
>> is no ISO code then use the SIL code.
>There are already collisions, so simply using one or the other
>gets you into trouble. For example, ARC is the SIL code for Archi,
>a Northern Caucasian language spoken in the Russian Federation.
>But you cannot use it in an ISO 639 field, because ARC in 639
>represents Aramaic, which is differentiated by SIL into 16 languages.
>But under my proposal, Archi is i-sil-arc, and Aramaic is arc. If
>you want to specify Assyrian Neo-Aramaic specifically, you can use

John is absolutely correct here, and I need to qualify my agreement to
Carl's statement along exactly the lines John is indicating here.
Ethnologue can supplement ISO codes, but we're not suggesting simply adding
all the Ethnologue codes to the same namespace. That would not work. On the
other hand, "i-sil-xxx" would. It is also necessary to ensure that, if the
category denoted by an instance of "i-sil-xxx" matches that of some ISO
code, then only the ISO code should be used. To deal with this, a mapping
between ISO and Ethnologue is needed, and that is being worked on. (This
mapping will also solve an existing and serious problem of ISO 639-x:
inadequate documentation.)

>Locales are by no means the only uses of language tagging. My primary
>interest is in labeling the languages used in multimedia objects,
>text, audio content, or both.

This is a good example of why an enumeration of "languages" based only on
written forms (as found in ISO 639) is insufficient for all user needs.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <>

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:13 EDT