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ISOJAC  August 2005

ISOJAC August 2005

Subject:

proposed disposition of comments on ISO/DIS 639-3 - Comments AAngjeli

From:

Anila Angjeli <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 24 Aug 2005 15:21:00 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (1 lines)

Hi Peter
just some thoughts (preceded by the words My comments in bold) after having
read the ballot comments. I have commented only about two points (herebelow
in bold) :


Egypt and Oman comments about the Arabic languages having a scope I in the
current DIS, and comments of Sweden about the three dialects they mention
having a scope I in the DIS.

My comments :

The comments of Egypt, Oman and the reaction of Sweden remind me of
numerous discussions we have already had within the JAC about the status of
a linguistic object. They account for the very sensitive question of the
definition of the very closely related linguistic objects. Of course,
according to the viewpoint adopted emphasis might be put on the common
features or on the contrary on the differences. If emphasis is put on their
common features, the linguistic unity of the genetically parent language
will be put forward and the linguistic objects in question will be
considered as encompassed within a unique language and consequently as
being variants or dialects of it (depending on the definition applied to
each of these terms). If, on the contrary, the differences are put forward,
each of the linguistic objects will be considered as a separate language.
The reasons for adopting one or the other of these viewpoints may vary from
one community to another and may be supported by political, historical,
linguistic arguments, etc.

Although the opinion of the directly concerned communities has to be
respected, experience has shown that in a normative context these
discussions are most of the time non conclusive and sterile. Consequently
it seems to me that the role of a standard is not to statute about these
linguistic objects.

The terminology of the standard gives the impression of a desire to
legislate about the linguistic objects discussed. The long discussions
about some languages and their position in ISO/DIS 639-3 (I remind you of
the case of Occitan, of Albanian, of Valencian, and so on) are evidence of
this.

Personally I think that what complicates the question is the use of the
appellation “ individual language ”. This appellation has a very
affirmative tone, a rather decisive connotation and it is liable to be
interpreted as a will to officially legislate about a linguistic object.
While this category is defined by the standard as an instrument to render
possible the coding of a linguistic object, it creates the false impression
of a category created to announce some legal decision about a language
(linguistic object) disregarding the opinion of those who are the most
concerned by the linguistic object in question, i.e. speakers of the
language, etc.

A second difficulty raises from the fact that the English word “ language ”
corresponds with two concepts, which may be expressed by to distinct terms
in other languages, for example in French they are expressed by the two
distinct terms : “langue” and “langage”. I suppose in the ISO/DIS 639-3 the
term “individual language” corresponds to “langage” rather than to
“langue”. However, users appear to stick spontaneously to the first meaning
of the word rather than to the second when interpreting “individual
language”.

My point is that the terminology should be as neutral as possible for a
standard intended to be used by all kinds of people, be they scientists,
politically engaged people or information specialists. Or even better : the
standard should announce that the discussion and the decision of “what is a
linguistic object?” is out of the scope for the standard. Unfortunately I
don’t have any concrete proposal for another term to replace it but I hope
you understand my concern and awkwardness about the whole question.



UK (BSI): Comment T3: Tables

·     How does a user make sense of the following seemingly duplicated
references:
   Occitan (post 1500); Provençal   ID  oci

   Old Provençal              ID  opr

   Provençal                   ID  prv

   Provençal, Old (to 1500)   ID  pro”

and apparent duplication of codes for “old Nlang” and “Nlang, old” abound
   throughout the table.

Proposed disposition: noted
[…]

The latter point in the UK comments refers in part to a set of known
duplication bugs in the draft code table that were introduced in the
process of integrating code sets from ISO 639, Ethnologue and Linguist
List. These have since been fixed in the database that will be used for
publishing the code table. The entry for “opr” was one such bug, being a
duplicate of the entry for “pro”.

As for the relationship between “oci” and “prv”, this is one of various
outstanding issues that is awaiting action by the ISO 639-RA/JAC, in this
case to clarify the denotation of the entries for “oc” and “oci” in ISO
639-1/-2. The editor is relying on the ISO 639-RA/JAC to resolve these
issues before the end of 2005.

My comment :

Given the long discussions about the representation of Occitan and the
important contributions made to it, I supposed that the issue was
considered to be a theoretically solved one and not a still outstanding
one. I remind you of the latest exchanges of e-mails with Peter where I
provided a table representing the two historical states of Occitan, the
list of the different dialects (I apologise for the term “dialect”) of
Occitan, their names in English and French and suggested some clean-up
actions. I thought we agreed in principle about it (I also agree not to
replace “pro” by “ocm” respecting the principle that an ID should not be
changed).

Actually, I didn’t take into consideration the inconsistencies in this
ISO/DIS tables considering them either as mere bugs or as an image of some
previous state of the database.



Anila Angjeli


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