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Re: 2 many language tags for Norwegian

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 08:47:27 +0200
Message-ID: <48117E7F.8040706@malform.no>
To: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
CC: www-international@w3.org

John Cowan 25-04-08 07:36:   ­  
> Leif Halvard Silli scripsit:
> > The current scheme, with 3 codes, even if poeple do not invent their own 
> > codes, has lead to an arms race about the right to use the code "no". 
> > The outcome of this race often looks like this: "NO" is used for Bokmål.. 
> > "NN" is used for Nynorsk.
> Well, most documents tagged "no" are in fact in nb, probably as a simple
> consequence of the fact that most Norwegian documents overall are in nb.

Well, I hate the word "well".

    * The reason why Google uses 'no' for 'nb', instad of 'nb' for 'nb',
      is not the one you mention.
    * The technical reasoning behind why OS X behaves as it does is not
      the one you mentions.
    * The reason why even most Nynorsk documents probably use 'no' is
      not the one you mention.

As for Google, they started with Bokmål first. They were not informed 
that there were infact only dealing with Bokmål. Thus they dubbed it 
"no". Which was correct enough, when they started. Later "nn" was added. 
And it had to live as "nn".

It happens like that all the time. Some projects also starts out as 
'nn', using the tag 'no'.

> > Is this how it was meant? Hardly. When a web site/resource exist in both 
> > tongues, then "nn" should be used on the Nynorsk and "nb" on the Bokmål.. 
> Indeed.

But this doesn't happen. So let us learn from it.

If I come to a web site which sends out 'en', with a web browser asking 
for 'en-GB', won't I then recive 'en'? Yes I will. Thus it is better to 
come to a web site offering 'no' with a web browser asking for 'no-nyn' 
or 'no-NN' and be offered whatever is disguised as 'no, than to be 
served the page in an entirely other langauge.

Phuh, it is a strange situation: I ask for permission to set my web 
browser to prefer Norwegian Nynorsk, without at the same time sending 
the message that I prefer English over Norwegian Bokmål. THus 
ultimately, I ask for permission to be served Bokmål when Nynorsk isn't 
available, which - as you say - it often are not. But unless I can ask 
for Norwegian Nynorsk, and prefer it over Norwegian Bokmål, I cannot use 
the langauge preferences of my web browser to anything.

The current situation is that most bokmål sites use 'no'. While most 
browsers also uses User Agents preferring NO or NB, because setting it 
to prefer NN causes bad users experiences (pages delivered in Eglish etc.)

And for example on Mac OS X, you can't easilyt select a different 
language from that of your system, unless you use a browser which does 
not take its langauage settings from the system preferences. (Which , 
for the masses, limits the choice to Firefox )

> > The BCP 47 needs 2 new regions: A Norwegian Bokmål region. And a 
> > Norwegian Nynorsk region. Both regions covers the entire Norway. Having 
> > those regions, one could treat Norwegian the same as English, German 
> > etc: You denote a variant of the language by adding another subcode.
> Unfortunately, it cannot be done.

I am at least glad to hear you say 'unfortunately'.

>   There is simply no way that the
> U.N. Statistics Division, the ultimate source of BCP 47 region codes,
> will decide to treat Norway as two different places.

Norway are "two different places" when it comes to this particular issue.

> And since they will not (and should not), ISO 3166/MA cannot, and
> therefore ietf-languages cannot either.

When Norwegians themselves, and messages I get from forreigners trying 
to understand the Norwegian codes, show that they are not understood, 
what shall we do then? Be held hostage of U.N. Statistics Division, who 
has developed those codes for entirely other purposes?

Or perhaps Norwegian should be considerd a "Macro languge", and 
extended-language tags be taken into use to denote each variant? The 
'no-bok' and 'no-nyn' fits perfectly in to that picture, don't they? 
(bok for Bokmål and nyn for Nynorsk.)

> > PS: BCP 47 has two "grandfathered" codes which I actually like quite 
> > well: no-nyn and no-bok. These codes are much more simple to understand, 
> > and much more in line with what users/authors would expect - and what I 
> > outline here-  than the current, special, confusing 3 code solution for 
> > Norwegian. Unfortunatly, their status as "grandfathered" is that they 
> > are "on the way out".
> In fact not: those codes are permanent.  They will always be valid in
> BCP 47 contexts like xml:lang, HTTP Language: headers, and so on.

BCP 47 now says that nb and nn are preferred and that they "replaced" 
no-nyn and no-bok.

But if it is as you say, then I would like to propose that 'no-nyn' and 
'no-bok' was made the preferred codes.

They should be preferred, and not aliases of 'nn' and 'nb'. Instead 'nn' 
and 'nb' should be aliases of 'no-nyn' and 'no-bok'.
leif halvard silli
Oslo, Norway
Received on Friday, 25 April 2008 06:48:11 UTC

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