Re: [OT] Re: the Ethnologue

Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 14:38:44 EDT

On 09/17/2000 10:37:42 PM Doug Ewell wrote:

>Since I have spent this whole, *very* OT discussion as the contrarian

It hasn't been all that off-topic. This has come up on numerous occasions
on this list, and I think is of interest to many of the participants, even
though it isn't strictly about Unicode.

>("devil's advocate" is too polite), I will take this opportunity to say
>that now that I understand John's proposal more clearly, I like it and
>think it makes a good deal of sense in an RFC 1766 bis environment.

John's proposal is one particular implementation of what Gary and I have
proposed in our paper. We favour the creation of a mechanism for distinct
namespaces, however.

>The mechanism for using these codes would need to be explicitly
>specified in RFC 1766 bis,

That may depend upon the exact implementation.

>and the rules would have to be the same as
>for other "i-" and "x-" codes, namely that ISO 639-1 codes must be used
>whenever possible, followed in turn by ISO 639-2 codes,


>Ethnologue codes (whoops, John, that's a real code (for Keo)), other
>"i-" codes, and finally "x-" codes. I think that's what John is
>proposing, anyway.

One issue is relative precedence of "i-sil-@@@" codes (where @ is some
ALPHA, to avoid confusion with Keo) and other "i-" codes. Again, we'd
suggest that Ethnologue codes be kept in a distinct namespace (which is one
way to view "i-sil-"), but some issues remain.

>My other concerns about the Ethnologue remain: I still believe there
>needs to be one normative name for each language (politically incorrect
>though it may be);

We will have to address this in some measure in order to present certain
views into the data.

>and some common sense needs to prevail regarding the
>scope of the language tag (like exactly how specific we need to be
>about the exact dialect of Chinese in a text message).

In general, this is determined by application needs together with a
consideration of distinct operational definitions. I think for most users
there will not be too much difficulty in knowing what to use, though, since
the vast majority of new identifiers are each generally of interest only to
a relatively limited set of users (though there are a number of users that
would be interested in the whole lot).

>But John's
>proposal might be a solution for those people who really need a
>standard language tag for Mukumina.

Just so.

- 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: <>

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