Re: (long) Making orthographies computer-ready (was *not* Telephoning Tamil)

Date: Mon Jul 29 2002 - 18:02:29 EDT

On 07/29/2002 03:56:36 PM "Addison Phillips [wM]" wrote:

>Nonetheless, if you glance at the "SpecialCasing" file in Unicode, you
>note that almost without exception the entries are locale driven. The
>stop in creating a new orthography (or computerizing an existing one,
>from the days of the typewriter), for my money would probably be to get
>to issue the language a 2-letter code so you can have locale (and Unicode
>character database) data tagged with it ;-).

OK, now you've hit a hot button: The industry needs to wake up to the fact
that the requirement that a language have an ISO-639 2-letter code before a
locale can be created is a dead end. There just aren't enough 2-letter
codes to go around, and ISO 639-2 has restrictive requirements for doling
out 2-letter codes -- it wasn't created for the benefit of locale
implementers, but for the benefit of terminologists. Luiseņo and Tongva
simply are not candidates. This very issue was raised with the relevant ISO
committee in relation to Hawaiian: a 2-letter code was requested
specifically because someone was trying to get a Unix implementation
developed and was told by the engineers that it couldn't be done without an
ISO 2-letter code. Well, I'm pretty sure Hawaiian isn't going to get it,
because it doesn't meet the requirements for ISO 639-1. Instead of asking
for a 2-letter code, the engineers should have been looking at what it
would take to make the software support a 3-letter code (which already
exists in ISO 639-2).

- 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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