Dear JAC members,
I don't entirely disagree with Rebecca's suggestion in all respects. We have
for a long time been talking about mechanisms for handling variants of
different sorts. This may be geographical variants, variation in time,
socio-linguistic variation, writing system, orthographic system, etc. The
standards do currently not have the best possible mechanisms for handling
this. The introduction of the identifier for sign language added new
interesting challenges. There is nothing in the current standard about HOW
to combine e.g. language and script identifiers. Geographic identifiers may
be added, but all the examples just add two-letter country identifiers after
a space character. I guess it is possible to add identifiers according to
3166-2, but how (EXACTLY how)?
We may wish to withdraw the current 639-2, and to hold 639-1, and then go
through the whole thing. Personally I would not be in favour of doing that.
I am 100 % certain that libraries will have great problems assigning the
identifiers for Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. There are very floating
differences. So we should call it "Serbo-Croatian" or "Bosno-Croato-Serbian"
or something, and add "sub-identifiers"? I am also certain that there are
hundreds of other cases where the difference between languages are not
I could produce lots of documents where not even a Norwegian can tell you
whether it is Bokmål or Nynorsk. There are also lots of documents that have
some text in Bokmål and some text in Nynorsk. But there are clearly defined
and officially recognized norms for Bokmål and Nynorsk respectively. There
is no problems whatsoever in identifying text as one or the other if they
adhere to these norms. The majority of documents obviously do that.
The terminology community in Norway and the Nordic countries have discussed
this. The conclusion is that we need one identifier for Bokmål and one for
Nynorsk. From a terminology point of view there may be less need for an
identifier for Norwegian, but since it is already there, it doesn't cause
any problem to keep it.
I don't see any great problems if LoC also in the future encodes their
Norwegian holdings as "nor" only.
CONCLUSION: I am very much against the proposed un-doing of a final decision
that was made two weeks ago. I am also against the implicit proposal to
expand the coding mechanisms at this point in time, unless a thorough study
and work is done. The expansion of the coding mechanism should be on the
agenda in connection with the revision process some years from now.
Håvard Hjulstad mailto:[log in to unmask]
Rådet for teknisk terminologi
(Norwegian Council for Technical Terminology)
Postboks 41 Blindern
NO-0313 Oslo, Norway
(besøksadresse/visiting address: Forskningsveien 3 B)
tel: +47-23198040 faks: +47-23198041
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rebecca S. Guenther [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2000 10:23 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: IMPORTANT PROPOSAL
> To ISO 639/JAC:
> We had a meeting here at the Library of Congress of catalogers who are
> applying the language codes, and the difficulty of applying the three
> Norwegian codes was made clear. It was felt that at least in the U.S.
> and probably most places outside of Norway those applying the codes may
> not have the expertise to be able to determine and it may not be
> desirable for searching and retrieval purposes to make such fine
> distinctions. There is also the problem that there exists two forms of the
> language, one based on Danish and one on Old Norse (this taken from
> Havard's ISO/DIS 639-l Annex C), while there are now 3 codes. As Havard
> stated at our meeting, this is a national rather than international need,
> although all of these codes are needed in Norway.
> This is a case that is bound to come up time and time again in this
> standard, when local needs conflict with international needs. Those of us
> maintaining large bibliographic databases and producing large numbers of
> records may not be able to or want to make the fine distinctions that
> might be made in the countries where the language is spoken.
> Therefore I would like to propose the following solution. The new codes
> that were approved (nno and nob) would be appended onto the more general
> code for Norwegian. Thus, a hierarchical type of coding would be used:
> nor-nno Norwegian Nynorsk
> nor-nob Norwegian Bokmaal
> For the alpha-2 list we would do the same, although I would argue that
> only the alpha-3 code would be needed as an extension:
> no-nno Norwegian Nynorsk
> no-nob Norwegian Bokmaal
> An alternative could be using the alpha-2 code as the second part:
> We could consider applying this mechanism in the future where needed for
> these types of situations, but we would NOT go back and look at the codes
> we have as to whether others are similar.
> This solution would be consistent with the ISO 3166 subentity codes, where
> the code for a subentity is attached to a country code to be more
> specific. It would also be consistent with the direction in the current
> proposed revision to RFC1766, where it is stated that a subtag may be used
> in conjunction with a language code (example is: no-nynorsk, no-bokmaal).
> The only difference is that a code would be used for the subtag, rather
> than a language name.
> I would like to open up discussion on this proposal during the next
> several days. Please consider it and comment between now and next Tuesday,
> 7 March. Then I will send out a voting form and we will vote on it.
> Although we have previously voted on these codes, I don't see this
> possible change as a complete reversal of that decision, but a
> reformulating of how the codes are presented.
> I look forward to your comments.