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Re: 2 many language tags for Norwegian

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2008 18:04:18 +0200
Message-ID: <48189882.3040103@malform.no>
To: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
CC: Frank Ellermann <hmdmhdfmhdjmzdtjmzdtzktdkztdjz@gmail.com>, www-international@w3.org

John Cowan 2008-04-30 16.58:
> Leif Halvard Silli scripsit:
> > Let me rephrase the above: German speakers can be lucky that, ...
> Their different orthographies of Standard German are tagged geographically.
> Their other languages, from Low Saxon to Upper Sorbian, are tagged as
> separate languages. 

Sorbian is a Slavic language.

>  Evidently the difference between Bokmaal and Nynorsk
> is on the border between language and orthography, ...

I could agree.

> 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.

If so, would it not be fine if 'sgn' could be used to cover all? After 
all, there aren't that many of them? Now, though, to get Swedish 
signlanguage pages to be served to NOrwegian users, the Swedish author 
must tag his page with several tags at once.

In addition, they reckon that there will become fewer and fewer deaf 
children because one can now receive operation that makes you hear - at 
least to such a degree that signlanguage will not be learned anymore.

So, as the need for signlanguages goes down, the requirement to discern 
between what is left, goes up. This doesn't sound as "best practise" to me.

> > 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.


«Swiss German [...] is any of the Alemannic dialects spoken in 
Switzerland. Occasionally, the Alemannic dialects spoken in other 
countries are called Swiss German as well, especially the dialects of 
Liechtenstein and Vorarlberg which are closely associated to 
Switzerland's. [...] Linguistically, Swiss German forms no unity.  
[...]  The reason "Swiss German" dialects [... in Switzerland ... ] 
constitute a special group is their almost unrestricted use as a spoken 
language in practically all situations of daily life, whereas the use of 
the Alemannic dialects in the other countries is restricted or even 

The "Alemannische Wikipedia" take the opposite stance, though, 
preferring the word Alemannic instad of Swiss German. Clearly they chose 
to do attract users from outside Switzerland as well. I learned German 
in School, and found it relatively easy to read the Alemannishce Wikipedia.


So, in Switzerland then, they speak Swiss German, but write standard 
German. With a degree of truth we could say that Norwegian mostly speak 
Nynorsk but write Bokmål. 

I cannot imagine that labeling Swiss German as 'gsw' does Swiss German 
any good on the internet. It more serves to keep Swiss German off the 

> > 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.

Which doesn't take away my point, if I moderate myself to say that 
'de-gsw' would have been fine. However, again, they can just tag their 
files in Apache as 'file.gsw.de' to be certain that tagging them as .gsw 
does not lead to people not getting the files.

> > 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 .

I still think that it would be fine with a "MacroFrisian-SubFrisian" 
mapping. It did not need to be obligatory - one could let authors choose 
between useing "SubFrisian" as an independent tag and mapping it to 

> 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),

That was what Sweden did to the territories bordering to the Copenhagen 
region. ;-) (The Skåne county.) Plus Norway has not stopped to mourn the 
loss of Härjedalen and Jämtland. :-D

>  it would hardly be surprising if in a thousand years
> the language varieties of Kristiansand had almost nothing to do with
> those of Tromso.

True. Though the the Skåne district of Sweden shares some Danish aspects 
still. And I think ditto with the Härjedalen and Jämtland. But I guess 
1000 years has not passed yet.
leif halvard silli
Received on Wednesday, 30 April 2008 16:05:06 UTC

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