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Locales, areas and regions (1)

From: John Clews <webbing@sesame.demon.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2001 21:49:13 GMT
Message-Id: <9883@sesame.demon.co.uk>
To: www-international@w3.org
Locales, areas and regions (1)

Thierry Sourbier wrote:

> While I fully understand the limitation of locales as they are currently
> defined, I'm very doubtful that the situation can be improved in a near
> future, given that:
> 
> 1. It is hardly possible to define *scientifically* what is a locale. Even
> the candidates for the *base* have shaky definition (e.g. language,
> region -why country?-, time zone, ...).

Regions have cropped up various times in recent threads on this list.
Regions, like areas, can each mean one of two things: a subdivision
within a country, or a subdivision of the world which contains
several countries. This email focuses on the latter, which has not
been much discussed.

It's some work which I was planning to put forward in one or other of
the ISO or ISO/IEC JTC1 committees I am involved in: given the
current interest in locales and regions on this list, it may as well
get reviewed, improved, or shot down, on this list first.

Areas are relevant to locales, as information on groups of countries
can concatenate useful information: countries within a particular
area of the world may often have in common most elements of a
particular locale, with relatively small variations, though what
variations exist can of course (and should) be documented.

However, locales are usually only specified in relation to a specific
country, without reference to other countries which may share similar
charcteristics.

Examples of these larger areas of the Caribbean, North America,
Central America, South America, Western Europe, Central Asia, Western
Asia, South Asia, the Pacific, North Africa, etc.

Currently there is no framework that system designers (or potentially
users) can refer to, for getting information on areas of the world
that may share similar sets of information.

The Regional settings in my antiquated Windows 95 on my laptop lists
mainly language/country combinations, with the exception of
English (Caribbean) - with not even a French (Caribbean) to accompany
it.

I'm wondering whether the following may be of use as another
dimension of locales.


Areas (1): Principles

In two separate applications (a global database for classical
musicians, and a 7,000 entry database of languages, each still in the
pilot phase and thus not yet on Keytempo.com) I am using alphanumeric
area codes A00-A99, for arrangement of data which, because of their
format, do not conflict with other data elements.

I include this information to assess whether (or not) the approach,
and/or the methodology, might go towards meeting any needs to group
countries into larger areas, for potential use in locales.

The areas I have used are as follows:

A0 AMERICAS;  A1 AFRICA;  A2 EUROPE;  A3 ASIA;  A4 PACIFIC; A8 MARITIME (other)

The order is based on a West through East progression on a standard
map which is centered on the Atlantic Ocean, e.g. like this:

                  ######### ########             #
                #### ###     #########               #      #
  #### ####################   ######        ####   #  ############# ##
  ##  #####################   ##    ##     ####################################
    ##      ##########  ####           #  ## #################################
            ####___##########         #######___###########___########    ##
            ### A00 #######             #### A02 ######### A03 #########
            ####~~~#####              ### ###~~~### #######~~~######### #
             #########                ###### #  ###################### #
               ###   #              ################################        ___
                 #### ##           ###################  #### #######        A04
                    #######         #########___####     ##   ###  ##       ~~~
                     ########             ## A01 ##           ##   ##
                     ###########          ###~~~##             ##     ##
                      #########            #######                     #
                       ########           ####### #                ######
                       ######              ##### #                ########
                       ####                 ###                    ######
                       ###
                       ##                                              #     #
                       ##   Map: (C) Paul Fawcett, 1994 (adapted)           #

[Tip: if you want to see the map, if viewing email, or reprinting
from email use a monospace font and a smaller font size, like Courier
10 point or below, to avoid any problems of unforeseen wordwrap in
this map].

These areas are naturally broken down further, details of which
follow in my next email(s).

If you want to discuss it, it might be worth replying to each of
those separately, as different levels of detail are involved, so that
the thread does not get all tangled up. These more detailed emails
will have the following Subject: line -

Areas (2): Arrangement
Areas (3): Country lists

I look forward to any responses

Best regards

John Clews

--
John Clews,
Keytempo Limited (Information Management),
8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG
Email: Webbing@sesame.demon.co.uk
tel: +44 1423 888 432;

Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG20: Internationalization;
Committee Member of ISO/TC37: Terminology
Received on Friday, 9 November 2001 16:57:02 GMT

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