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ISOJAC  March 2001

ISOJAC March 2001

Subject:

Re: AW: (2 of 3) Reply: adding more 2-letter codes

From:

Michael Everson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 6 Mar 2001 10:36:11 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (111 lines)

At 09:17 +0100 2001-02-27, Håvard Hjulstad wrote:

>Having been through all the items in the alpha-3 list that would be blocked
>from inclusion in the alpha-2 list if we stick to the freeze option, I must
>say that I agree that it is artificial and undesireable not to add new
>alpha-2 identifiers after the publication of 639-1.

For a certain set of identifiers currently used in internet language
tagging. The point being, for heaven's sake, if you want to add two
letter identifiers for those particular items, do so now, and then
keep to the promise/agreement/resolution the JAC made.

The alternative is to destabilize the usefulness of ISO 639 for
internet use, because we will have to then go and rewrite the RFC
again to give users recommendations they can actually TRUST.

I continue to find the changed viewpoints of several of you extremely
short-sighted and worrying.

>International Standards are NOT "eternal". In fact, we are obliged to review
>them at least every five years to align them with changing worlds. This
>should apply to 639-1 as well.
>
>We have heard that we will lose credibility if we don't finalize the alpha-2
>list "for eternity".

Look, Håvard, this really isn't hard to understand, though you and a
lot of others seem to be seriously waffling on this issue, not, I
think for ACTUAL PRACTICAL reasons, but for pie-in-the-sky
theoretical considerations with regard to "potential" users of 639-1
and undescribed but potential applications which can only.

We have added a recommendation for 3-letter codes to the RFC on
language tagging. We had to recognize that lots of 2-letter codes are
already in use. We had to recognize that people need unique
recommendations they can trust. We wanted to point to both 639-1 and
639-2, but we had to recognize the DANGER inherent in the
recommendation to use two standards for the same thing. But we had
to. 639-1 isn't big enough, and we have a tremendous legacy of use of
its terms for a large number of important languages. We came to the
JAC seeking a solution, and one was given at the Washington meeting.
We trusted that and were able to complete the revision of RFC 1766
into RFC 3066.

>I am afraid that we might have a greater credibility
>problem if we have to say that "sorry, too late; your (and your fellow 2
>million nationals') language does not deserve an alpha-2 identifier, because
>you were two months too late requesting it".

Not so, and exactly the opposite.

Gates sometimes close. We have done just the same thing in
JTC1/SC2/WG2 and the UTC with regard to precomposed characters. We
aren't adding any more, in order to preserve the integrity of
normalized internet data. We have to do this because we are taking
the scope of the internet seriously. We have a responsibility to
respect the users, who look to us for stability.

>We have many users. The Internet community is one of them. Other users are
>linguists and documentalists of many sorts.

The internet community is everyone, who are learning to tag their web
pages with codes so that people in their speech communities can talk
to them. What you are saying by trying to overturn the agreement you
made last year is that we can't trust you. We told the users that if
there were existing 2-letter codes they should use them. We told them
that if there weren't they should use the 3-letter codes. And we told
those who would begin to use 3-letter codes that they would be safe
using them, because their tagged data would not be compromised by the
later addition of 2-letter codes for those entities.

Imagine, please, that we had not given Nynorsk a 2-letter code, but
that it had a 3-letter code. Imagine yourself as a user up in Tromsø
with lots of web pages, all tagged with the 3-letter code, searchable
and findable on the internet.

Imagine then that the JAC decided to add a 2-letter code for Nynorsk.
Now, who is going to support what? Will Netscape and Internet
Explorer be able to handle it? Or the Alta Vista and Google search
engines? Will you have to reconfigure all your web pages? How will
you know which to choose?

International Standards are there to serve the users. Not the
theoretical whims of the standardizers.

>As long as we base our work on good principles, and document clearly
>everything we do, we may and should keep the alpha-2 list open.

And if you do that, we will have to re-revise the RFC to solve the
problem you promised/agreed/resolved to help us solve.

What you are saying is that you want to back-pedal, and that you
weren't being honest to us when we came to the JAC for a solution
from you.

I am cc:ing the IETF languages list for the first time on this. I am
sure that many of them will be extremely unhappy to hear that members
of the JAC are working to scupper what we understood to have been a
very good deal.

I would like to request that the RA issue a ballot to the JAC to
reconfirm the promise made at the Washington meeting, if this can be
done procedurally.

Best regards,
--
Michael Everson ** Everson Gunn Teoranta ** http://www.egt.ie
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
Mob +353 86 807 9169 ** Fax +353 1 478 2597 ** Vox +353 1 478 2597
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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