[Top] [All Lists]

Re: Internet-Draft: Language tag

1993-12-23 11:15:12
Oh yes, I remember now, 639 country codes for use as language tags.

Well, as promised, I spent several days contemplating the 3000+ 
volumes in the P section of our McKeldin library, I freely admit 
being overwhelmed, but after considerable time in the stacks, and 
consultation with several reference librarians, the only plausible 
conclusion is that that linguists have a great affinity for decorating 
the trees of the forest :-), they seem to be so busy deciding which 
nodes of a tree to hang the language names on, that they dont seem 
interested in simply publishing a list of the language names 
themselves, no, that would be too simple, and is obviously of no 
use to anyone :-0

I wonder how long it will take them to conclude that a tree-structure 
isnt a good model to describe the way languages have developed?

But enough digression.

Lacking an authoritative list of language names which could be 
referenced, we are faced with the choice of rolling our own, or 
resorting to some sort of dodge, such as this proposal.

Rolling our own is absurd, but I still dont like the poor fit of 
country code ~= language, still I have to admit that nothing better 
seems available.

A quibble:

The draft makes use of the term "sublanguage" in several places.  
That word is unusual, a naive reading of it left me wondering what 
you intended the tags to be subordinate to, so I asked a reference 
librarian here to check it out:  Sublanguage isnt present in the OED, 
but it is listed in the 1987 Random House Dictionary of the English 
Language, (def was read to me over the phone) where it is defined 
as being a sort of mini-dialect with a very narrow and somewhat 
jargonistic content, I dont think you intended to use a term with 
that narrow a meaning.  Perhaps "dialect" would be more appropriate?

A more general complaint:

You seem to be making no distinction between written form and 
spoken form (ignoring sign for the moment), these are not synonymous,
and given the existance of technology for translating written->spoken
we really ought to give some thought to defining methods for tagging 
both the written form and the spoken form af text.  The present 
proposal seems intended to decribe written forms but is illustrated with 
terms appropriate for spoken ones (ie, cockney).  While there are thousands 
of distinct spoken languages in our world, there only a few hundred 
scripts used in writting them, and enumerating those would seem to 
be a much simpler task than attempting to deal with all the dialects of
the world, especially since the dialects are a much faster moving target.
dana s emery <de19(_at_)Umail(_dot_)umd(_dot_)edu>

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>