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Re: Language Identifier List Criteria

From: Elizabeth J. Pyatt <ejp10@psu.edu>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 09:41:17 -0500
Message-Id: <p06100502bdeddd77cfbc@[]>
To: Seda Guerses <guerses@informatik.hu-berlin.de>
Cc: www-international@w3.org

First, let me clarify if I haven't already that I am approaching this 
discussion from the point of view of linguistics (since that's what 
my PhD is in...)

At the risk of stirring the pot even more...

Seda Guerses wrote

>i think developing criteria is a good idea, but which criteria? the
>example with german spoken in austria, using state defined criteria
>(rechtschreibung, dictionaries etc.) will reproduce the dominance of state
>defined languages. in many parts of the world people speak languages which
>are not accepted by states, which are expected to die through this
>non-acceptance.  and by setting conservative criteria within the internet
>we would be going along with this form of "state defined languages" and
>diminishing the "democratic" possibilities of the internet to make things
>visible from many different stand points. to let languages exist and be
>found which are otherwise rejected.

I don't this list will have any effect on that issue. There is a list 
of  ISO-639 seperate language codes independent of this discussion. 
It's fairly comprehensive and includes many minority languages. For 
instance, languages like Basque, Welsh, Yiddish, Galician, Breton and 
more are included even though their use is not always "encouraged".

In theory, I would love all languages to be supported right now, but 
I do understand the reality of researching and programming all of the 
specs which underlie multilingual support. That's why I've been 
advocating focusing on written standards in the first pass. Once you 
add the spoken forms, you will have an exponentially increased set of 
data to define.

I've heard some good suggestions from Georg Schweizer, Tex Texin and 
others on how to determine if a region/country is dealing with its 
own national standard or using the same one as other countries.

I should note that even a minority language like Welsh will actually 
have a written standard and several spoken dialects - only the 
written standard is used online. One problem facing some minority 
languages is that there is no "standard" to work with because the 
cultures have not had the occasion to form one.

On a postscript - I would like to see real ISO-639 language codes for 
"dialects" which are really languages - like Cantonese, Wu, etc. For 
instance, I can buy the "Teach Yourself Cantonese" grammar, but I 
can't code romanized Cantonese as its own entity.

>next, i like the suggestion of naming countries or regions and naming the
>languages spoken in those countries. this would also respect all the
>minorities living in the different regions and speaking other languages
>than the official ones known to us in this small group. (i.e. german is
>definitely not the only language spoken in germany, as in english in the
>us, or spanish in spain)

I don't think anyone on this list would disagree. There is nothing in 
the standards which prohibits a person from developing a non-English 
Web page from London. It would simply be given the appropriate 
language tag.

Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Education Technology Services, TLT/ITS
Penn State University
ejp10@psu.edu, (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

210 Rider Building II
227 W. Beaver Avenue
State College, PA   16801-4819
Received on Tuesday, 21 December 2004 14:54:25 UTC

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