Re: Question about new locale language tags

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Wed Dec 20 2006 - 10:18:02 CST

  • Next message: Mark Davis: "Re: Question about new locale language tags"

    RE: Question about new locale language tagsMichael Maxwell wrote:

    >> What other "problems" of this sort are supposed to be present in ISO
    >> 639-3?
    > There's a long list of cases where 639-2 (not 639-3) had a code for
    > something that wasn't a language by a linguistic definition, but
    > rather a group of languages (linguistically motivated or not), or
    > which was vague, at
    > 'Arabic', for example, is not a single language, but rather a group of
    > things ranging from non-mutually intelligible to maybe mutually
    > intelligible, together with Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), which is no
    > one's native language, but which is understood and spoken by educated
    > people across the region. (MSA is also the only standardized written
    > form of Arabic, which makes it relevant to tagging text. You can find
    > "dialectal" Arabic written, but there is no standard.)

    That's not a "long list." There are only 56 macrolanguages out of 7,595
    total entries in ISO/FDIS 639-3, and they all follow a similar pattern:
    in some contexts they are considered a single language -- even by native
    speakers who can't understand each other's "dialect" -- and in some
    cases they are considered a group of languages. The "linguistic
    definition" just isn't as black-and-white as we would all like.

    This is largely off-topic for Unicode; please see the "LTRU" or
    "ietf-languages" URLs in my signature block for better venues.

    Doug Ewell  *  Fullerton, California, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14

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