Re: [OT] Re: the Ethnologue

From: Jonathan Coxhead (
Date: Mon Sep 25 2000 - 15:01:25 EDT

   On 20 Sep 00, at 9:42, wrote:

 | On 09/17/2000 11:39:14 AM Doug Ewell wrote:
 | >What names are I supposed to associate with codes like SHU, MKJ, and
 | >SRC in my (possibly hypothetical) application that deals with language
 | >tags? Such associations are normally expected to be one-to-one.
 | >
 | >If Ethnologue codes are going to be regarded as a standard outside the
 | >confines of SIL, each code needs to be associated with a single,
 | >name.
 | A universally "politically correct" name in every case is insoluable.

   Isn't that exactly what the 3-letter code is? It can be used universally
and unambiguously to denote any of the languages that are catalogued (or

   It's only when you start addressing humans---in some specific language,
in some specific locale---that a human-orientated name is needed. And once
you've got to that point, you are clearly in the realm of human preference,
and you can invoke whatever political, cultural or social conventions are
desired by the particular user of the system.

   Maybe the Ethnologue could have a more comprehensive "vocabulary"
incorporated into it: for each country/language combination, it could list
all the names of all the *other* country/language combinations---with
alternates---and notes on the political, cultural or social weights behind
them. (Most of the entries would be empty, I'd guess.) This would be
potentially controversial (and a lot of work), but if approached with the
proper scholarly impartiality, could help its clients avoid many of the
more egregious errors.

 | Simply picking on as a default *for the purposes of implementation of the
 | system of identifiers* is reasonable, and is a problem we have to be
able to
 | solve if we are going to present a view of the data that is organised
 | by language - at the least, you have to list one name first. This is
 | certainly going to happen.

   You only have to list one name first in each country/language entry for
the name of the language in a given country/language. The list of languages
can readily be sorted by identifier, and so can the names of the other
country/language combinations listed within. I'd guess there's not much
controversy about order after that ...

 o o o (_|/

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