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ISOJAC  January 2002

ISOJAC January 2002

Subject:

Whoops! Re: Language and dialect (Was: RE: Christian's email)

From:

John Clews <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 24 Jan 2002 09:27:23 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (97 lines)

Dear Haavard and all other recipients

Whoops! Forgetting that I'd sent out this email yesterday, I honed my
draft a little further, and emailed it out again, a few minutes ago.
My apologies to all of you who receive something twice.

The differences were only minor, in wording, not in additional
points.

A couple of brief paragraphs were added, regarding Chinese, English
usage, and languages in France, though only follow up these
differences in text if you are interested :-)

This is just a brief email, replying to two points made by Haavard in
his message <[log in to unmask]>.

[log in to unmask] writes:

> My main point: Using John's criteria we can distinguish easily
> between "language" and "dialect" in those cases where we don't really
> have that m> uch problem in the first place. For distinguishing
> borderline cases we still don't have clear criteria.

Thanks for your analysis of these. Hopefully these criteria will
reduce the borderline cases to a much smaller number.

NB: are there any specific borderline cases that you have in mind?

To clarify two specific comments only - you wrote:

> (b) "a separate usage" : Well -- I don't know what you mean, and it
> is difficult to comment. Certainly on one level there are a number of
> "usages" within any language.

I wasn't as specific here as I should have been. What I meant was two
things:
(i) separate usage of words which affects a lot of the written language.
     For example in Northern and Southern Sami, it is immediately
     obvious which is being used from a very short text sample.
     However, for most varieties of written English, e.g. taken from
     newspapers of different countries, it is NOT immediately obvious
     which is being used from a very short text sample.

It may be that in some cases less than four of the criteria (a) - (d)
may be required, as Sami indicates - or does it? Probably we need a
description of the different usages in each of Northern Sami and
Southern Sami (etc), although I personally prefer to see a separate
code for each.

However, by usage I also meant something else, which is also covered
under the language name criterion:

(ii)  consistent usage of the language name as a separate entity

However, arguably, there is a case for saying that the use of the
language names "Northern Sami" and "Southern Sami" is consistent, but
that the users of those languages just use the word "Sami" in each
case, as which one they mean is implicit from the context of its use.
I'm pretty sure that in the various Sami Language Councils in
Scandinavia, they will have to be careful to use the terms "Northern
Sami" and "Southern Sami" fairly consistently.

The same comparison could be made for "Gaelic" - English speakers in
Scotland and Ireland would use that term without qualification for
the language used by their compatriots who spoke the Celtic language
in each country, but there is no doubt that they would be refering to
two different languages, and could easily modify any ambiguity by
refering to Irish Gaelic or Scottish Gaelic.

You also wrote:

> "(d) a body of works using that orthography over a significant
> period of time" : Also valid, I guess, but very difficult to use in
> borderline cases.

Over several decades is what I meant here.

Again, have you any specific borderline cases in mind?

I shall reply in separate emails about (a) "an established
orthography" and (c) "a separate language name" under the broad
heading "Granularity."

Best regards

John Clews

--
John Clews,
Keytempo Limited (Information Management),
8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG
Email: [log in to unmask]
tel: +44 1423 888 432;

Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG20: Internationalization;
Committee Member of ISO/TC37/SC2/WG1: Language Codes

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