Re: Questions: locales; CLDR process; ISO-639 (again)

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Wed Mar 01 2006 - 10:56:39 CST

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    Donald Z. Osborn wrote:
    > Alberto Escudero-Pascual and Louise Berthilson of IT46+ are refining a locale
    > generator tool, and as part of giving some feedback to them on it there are
    > several questions that I wanted to raise with the Unicode community (as the
    > Consortium manages CLDR).
    > 1. What if a group has a calendar not yet provided for in the locale format? We
    > have several cases where there are different week lengths (Igbo and some other
    > groups use 4-day traditional week; Bamileke have an 8-day traditional week;
    > there are some smaller groups in Togo that have 5 or 6 day weeks; there are
    > others). Generally these exist alongside the 7-day week used worldwide, which
    > may complicate the issue.
    For different calendar systems, new keywords are required. You can
    request this at

    If the calendar system requires a change in the spec (such as a DTD
    change for more than 7 days / week), you should note that in the bug.
    > 2. What is the appropriate ISO-639 code to use for locales?
    > 2a. In some cases SIL and Ethnologue define several languages represented in
    > ISO/DIS-639-3 for a single language category in ISO-639-1 or 2. There may not
    > be a simple answer, but my thought is tht in cases where the ISO-639-1 or 2
    > coded language has variants in ISO/DIS-639-3 defined more or less by country,
    > it makes sense to use the 1 or 2 code plus the country code rather than the 3
    > code.
    The LDML spec describes the locale IDs, which follow RFC3066bis format.
    (That is approved, but doesn't yet have an RFC number). See the LDML
    spec for more info.

    That requires the use of a 2 letter code if there is one, otherwise a 3
    letter code.
    > 2b. An example is Kpelle spoken in the Liberia-Guinea border area (it is also
    > known as Guerze in Guinea). There is an ISO-639-2 code, "kpe," and separate
    > ISO/DIS-639-3 codes for Kpelle of Liberia, "xpe," and Kpelle or Guerze of
    > Guinea, "gkp."My thought is that "kpe-LR" & "kpe-GN" are preferable to "xpe"
    > and "gkp" for locales.
    > 2c. Part of this gets back to the definition of what is a language, but for
    > purposes of software localization it may be simpler to go for the higher level
    > of aggregation and distinguish by country (which it seem one has to do anyway).
    > Even this may not be satisfactory in all cases as there are often significant
    > dialect (or language) differences in a language (or "macrolanguage" in SIL's
    > system) within a country.
    > 2d. In general is ISO/DIS-639-3, as a draft standard, to be used as a last
    > resort in making locale data?
    CLDR follows RFC-3066bis, which does not yet allow those codes. So in
    the short term, the appropriate approved ISO language code should be
    used; if none is available we can use a private use code temporarily.
    > 3. On the process:
    > 3a. What is the review process for the locales once submitted to CLDR? I assume
    > there is a public review period.
    We are currently in the process of gathering data, up until March 15.
    See the schedule at However, there will be
    successive future versions of CLDR -- probably on a shorter timetable --
    this past release was delayed for development of the survey tool:
    > 3b. Who ultimately approves them?
    The technical committee is responsible for approving the release. See
    the process at Note, however,
    that the committee has just approved a modified process that will be
    rolled out for the vetting phase.
    > 3c. Can they be amended?
    Absolutely. Corrections can be made, and new data can be submitted.
    > 4. Going back to ISO-639 in general (I know this subject has been discused
    > before but please bear with me), is there going to be any kind of feedback
    > between the processes of developing locales and localization on one hand and
    > amending the list of ISO-639 codes on the other? I recall there being some
    > mention of a block on new ISO-69-1 and 2 codes, or that a 1 code will not be
    > given where there is a 2 code, but that *maybe* a new 1 and 2 code could be
    > given (Runyakitara might be a candidate for the latter). Also mention of
    > possible additional ISO-639 codes beyond the three ranges already. What is the
    > latest on all this?
    Others can speak to the ISO 639 process
    > Thanks in advance.
    > Don Osborn
    > PanAfrican Localisation Project
    Hope this helps.

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