Re: New RFC 4645-4647 (language tags)

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Sep 13 2006 - 16:21:37 CDT

  • Next message: Peter Constable: "RE: New RFC 4645-4647 (language tags)"

    From: "Debbie Garside" <>
    > The ISO 639 family of standards do not compete.

    But aren't we speaking about an RFC, i.e. an IETG/IESG standard and not an ISO standard?

    Clearly the allocation policies in the RFC differ from all past and current ISO practices regarding ISO updates.

    The RFC 4646 is clearly defined for stability (like Unicode), and the ISO related standards (639, 3166) are made for best practices and knowledge at the time of writing for the standard or its revisions. Changing the

    ISO standard for stability may cause some future political problems (especailly for ISO 3166); how to solve those conflict of policies will be interesting to track.

    Anyway, all standards have their life and death when they are no longer supported by a working group or experts comities; the various standard bodies have different membership rules, and even then, the woking groups can be dissolved to work on a newer standard in the same standard body.

    Which of the RFC or ISO standards will last the longer? It will mostly depend on usability and implementation levels (ISO standards tend to have longer implementation time, as they are often much more complex and the restricted membership means that there's little incitation for many private organizations to implement them).

    Another thing to consider is the publicity of the standard. RFCs have all been published without licencing restrictions and widely distributed, unlike many ISO standards that have little audience and do not reach their ambitious objectives.

    The Unicode standard is a counter example with more ambitious goals than ISO 10646; however, it was implemented and documented publicly much faster, and the ISO standard would have rapidly been in danger if no agreement were made to create a Joint Working Group with formal liaison procedures to synchronize boths.

    Cooperation between public-supported ISO standards and interested private standard bodies seems the way to go to avoid splits and conflicts of goals. Joint Advisory Comities in ISO seem to be the only long-term solution for people to get good standards with wide implementations.

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