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Re: 2 many language tags for Norwegian

From: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2008 10:58:14 -0400
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Cc: Frank Ellermann <hmdmhdfmhdjmzdtjmzdtzktdkztdjz@gmail.com>, www-international@w3.org
Message-ID: <20080430145814.GA29389@mercury.ccil.org>

Leif Halvard Silli scripsit:

> Let me rephrase the above: German speakers can be lucky that, on the 
> Web, their different flavours of German, are tagged using geographical 
> subtags.

Their different orthographies of Standard German are tagged geographically.
Their other languages, from Low Saxon to Upper Sorbian, are tagged as
separate languages.  Evidently the difference between Bokmaal and Nynorsk
is on the border between language and orthography, and ISO has come down
on the side of language.

> I don't know enough abotu sign languages, but I suppose that sign 
> languages have similarities. Thus if I was a Dansish signlanguage user 
> reading a certain Swedish page, then I would probably liked to be able 
> to be served the Swedish sign language version of that apge.  

Ethnologue says Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish Sign Language are mutually
intelligible "with moderate difficulty".  It would be interesting to know
if the difficulty is greater or less than that encountered by users of
the spoken languages.

> Aah... gsw. Swiss German. Added in 2006, according to the language 
> subtag registry.
> So why no use de-CH instead?

"de-CH" refers to the orthography of Standard German in use in
Switzerland.  "gsw" refers to the Germanic language spoken there by
the German Swiss.  (There are also people outside Switzerland who speak
it; as usual, the linguistic and political borders aren't identical).
These languages are in no way mutually intelligible, though everyone
who speaks gsw has at least passive competence in Standard German.

> THis new 'gsw' means that if you visit Swiss web sites, and you have set 
> your browser to prefer 'de' first and then 'fr', then you get French 
> versions of Swiss pages over German pages.

Written gsw is relatively rare, mostly belles lettres.  The great bulk
of Swiss web pages in German use de with the CH orthography.

> There are 3 Frisian languages. I would say the same: They should have a 
> common mother tag for "plain" Frisian.

You underestimate the strength of the barriers between the three
surviving Frisian languages.  Ethnologue says under North Frisian:
"Not intelligible to Eastern Frisian of Germany or Western Frisian
of the Netherlands except to a few educated bilingual speakers of
West Frisian."  For that matter, it also says that local varieties
of North Frisian have difficult intelligibility, and there is no
standard form:  check out the various examples of the same sentence at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Frisian .

The remaining Frisian-speaking areas are islands in a huge continuum
of Dutch and Low Saxon, with a heavy overlay of Standard German in
much of it.  If all Norway from Oslo to Trondheim were to be conquered
by Sweden, using the good old methods of imposing language change on a
captive population (as distinct from what was actually done in the period
of personal union), it would hardly be surprising if in a thousand years
the language varieties of Kristiansand had almost nothing to do with
those of Tromso.

John Cowan  cowan@ccil.org  http://ccil.org/~cowan
If he has seen farther than others,
        it is because he is standing on a stack of dwarves.
                --Mike Champion, describing Tim Berners-Lee (adapted)
Received on Wednesday, 30 April 2008 14:58:50 UTC

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