As opportunities for discussion of this point may have been reduced in the
run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays, and I only had one
response, I'm raising the same points again, hoping that there may be more
responses now that more people are likely to be back at work.
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: Hindustani - issues still outstanding
From: "John Clews" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, December 13, 2004 12:32 pm
To: [log in to unmask]
Cc: [log in to unmask]
I've been raising several questions to the JAC lately, largely because
it's easier to get problems dealt with in the JAC, rather than having to
deal with it later - and Kalmyk / Oirat is now satisfactorily dealt with,
However, there may be awkward points related to Hindustani, following
Peter's recent comments, which I think still need further attention.
You wrote on the list, I think about Hindustani (I saved your comments and
Peter's comments from two different emails) that "The ballot at the bottom
of this message is closed." However, as I understand it, the code hiu for
Hindustani has not yet been announced to the world at large, and I think
that ideally, some further consideration would be worthwhile before we do.
As I think that no public announcement has been made about the code for
Hindustani, given Peter's concerns, shouldn't we revisit it again?
I agree with Peter about the role of Hindustani being an intersection
between the two languages Hindi and Urdu rather than a macro-language.
Hindustani represents more of a new departure than we may think, in the
development of ISO 639-2.
1. Anything in the "Macrolanguages" category (or similar) has always taken
excess time to discuss this in the JAC list, as the situation has
generally been more complex than first appeared.
2. All other "macrolanguages" we have dealt with before are there because
each "macrolanguage" was originally in ISO 639-2 beause the then
developers of ISO 639-2 thought of this as a language. Later on
clarification was needed as "member languages" of that macro-language were
added to ISO 639-2.
3. NB: This is the first time that we have proposed adding a _new_
macro-language (if indeed it is such) where none existed before, and there
could be problems with it from users, for reasons that have less to do
with the identification of a language (which language is this? what code
do I give it) and much more to do with many people's identification with
the name of a language.
4. Despite there being books described as in Hindustani (e.g. language
courses or dictionaries in Hindustani), often these tend to be clearly in
either Hindi or in Urdu (quite often with Hindustani being used as a near
synonym for Urdu, surprisingly, in some books published in the last few
decades in the UK).
5. The closest analogy with Hindustani appears to me to be with
Serbo-Croat, where use of a macro-language term (Serbo-Croat in one case,
Hindustani in the other case) has been used historically, and the name
later mainly abandoned in favour of the "member languages" of the
macrolanguage (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian in one case, Hindi and Urdu in
the other case).
6. In both cases, feelings run very strong about language names. These two
cases are also analogous because in both cases the member languages are
each strongly identified with a religion, a history, and a culture, and
because vocabulary and syntax have been changed in each to reflect the
dominant religion and culture.
This is even more true in the Indian subcontinent than in the Balkans, as
communities have been mainly apart for generations there.
In both sets of cases, the countries concerned have been at war on various
occasions, with hundreds, (or hundreds of thousands in the Indian
subcontinent) of civilians dead, and feelings about people's own language,
related language, or the macro-language being exceptionally strong.
Indeed, we went so far in ISO 639-2 to deprecate the use of the code for
the macro-language Serbo-Croatian. It would be illogical to deprecate it
in the one case, while to add it in the other case.
7. We also need to deal with the issue of the relationship of Hindustani
to Fijian Hindustani and Caribbean Hindustani, present in ISO 639-3, as
well as to the relationship of Hindustani to Hindi and Urdu.
8. The most important issues are:
(a) to be convinced that we are happy that there are no problems that will
cause us to have to do extra work before we announce it, and
(b) that we can provide guidance on which documents are in Hindi, which
are in Urdu, and which are in Hindustani.
At present, can we give such guidance and assurance? ISO 639-2 has a
50-document rule. Do we have a specific _list_ of 50 Hindustani documents?
Do we have ways of showing that those specific documents are Hindustani
documents and not Urdu documents, and also not Urdu documents?
Those of us based in libraries should raise these points with our
colleagues whol deal with South Asian studies. I'm doing some system
development work for an Islamic library in the UK this month, and I shall
also raise this issue with them, and pass on any comments to the JAC list.
We need to be clear that we are providing a code that can be used in
coding language documents, and not just providing a code to a more
abstract concept, even though it may be useful as a concept.
9. Looking more widely to future development of RFC 3066 we may need also
to be able to give guidance as to whether hiu-Arab or hiu-Deva are valid
tags, as well as ur and hi. If so, how would their use be distinguished?
That problem for users would not exist if hiu were not listed as a code in
We may well still end up with adding "hiu" (Hindustani) to ISO 639-2, but
I think we need further discussion first, particularly as (much to my own
initial surprise) both ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2 managed to do without being
required to add it previously.
I look forward to comments from other JAC members
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