Re: New RFC 4645-4647 (language tags)

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Sep 13 2006 - 23:05:18 CDT

  • Next message: Doug Ewell: "Re: New RFC 4645-4647 (language tags)"
  • Next message: Doug Ewell: "Re: New RFC 4645-4647 (language tags)"

    From: "Peter Constable" <>
    > From: [] On
    >> The RFC 4646 is clearly defined for stability... Changing the
    >> ISO standard for stability may cause some future political
    >> problems
    > In the case of ISO/FDIS 639-3, it makes clear statements regarding the
    > necessity for stability.

    And it's easier to assume a very long-term stability for languages, even if they are constantly evolving, only because languages live much longer than standards and even survive their death as an actively spoken one.

    This can't be said to countries and administrative units. So a good question for language tags is: does it require to be accurate regarding geopolitical divisions? If not, then ISO 3166 can continue being updated the way it is now, and for language tags the cultural regions are possibly better to consider, except after dramatical events that lead to civil wars, country splits and annexions.

    If there's no dramatical event, there's much less emergency to conceptualize an exact match between cutlural regions and administrative country borders. And regarding internal administrative divisions of countries, there's no exact match with cultural areas, as these divisions are not based or do not evolve on culture but on economical considerations and reforms: peoples normally don't move massively after such changes, except in dictatorial or oppressive regimes against cultural minorities (which may sometime drive to dramatic events above, as seen in the former Yugoslavia).

    So is there really a need for a coordination with ISO 3166 (or UN M.49 which really must be updated to be accurate at least for yearly statistical reports), given that it is still not a complete work ? (only part 1 about countries is really complete, part 2 is really full of omissions and errors, sometimes caused by linguistic differences, and part 3 does not offer stability and predictability and well for historical data).

    With the more precise definition of languages and (regional) dialects in ISO 639-3, and with the addition of the support for stable ISO 15924 script codes, may be we won't need ISO 3166 region codes in language tags, and language extension codes will be better to consider as a replacement to region codes (only kept for upward compatibility with RFC 3066).

    The stability of ISO 3166 however is needed in another area: for domain names (and for the stability of URLs), but there are other ways to support more ccTLDs without changing any existing ones, even if ISO 3166 ius updated. Now that ICANN has started to add new gTLDs, there's nothing that restrict ccTLDs to be constrained to 2-letter code extensions. So the stability of ISO 3166 is not that much important, what is important is the stability of ccTLDs, a different registry managed by IANA (now under current ICANN responsability), and whose target is not to follow the language tags standard in RFC 4646 (except if new gTLDs are accepted for use in domain names and allocated according to the RfC's language tags standard)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Sep 13 2006 - 23:09:07 CDT