For all of 639, I think the English spelling should be changed to "Alemannic" (two 'n's). (Several comments have been made about the "typo in Ethnologue" -- which is the source for Karen Broome requesting "Alemanic".)
For 639-2 in particular, perhaps reversing the order of English names to "Swiss German; Alemannic" would be better. The discussion seems to point to two pertinent points:
- "Alemannisch" is a (Germanic) name used in relation to at least some dialects of this language
- "Swiss German" / "SchwyzerdŁtch" is strongly associated with speakers in Switzerland
Thus, I think I'd be reluctant to remove "Alemannic" as an English name entirely; but reversing the order might decrease the likelihood that an English speaker gets the impression that this refers to the entire Alemannic branch of Germanic.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> Rebecca S. Guenther
> Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 2:33 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: (iso639.2308) RE: [Ltru] Alemanic & Swiss German
> Sorry, all, I wrote my message before I read this one.
> We don't currently have a way to give more information about a language
> name, as Peter suggested. We will need to make links to the 639-3 site for
> more information.
> On Wed, 6 Dec 2006, Peter Constable wrote:
> > The main concern is to clarify that "gsw" is intended to denote a range of varieties
> deemed to be a single language (one that has the name, among others, "Swiss
> German") and not a broader range of varieties that would be deemed multiple
> languages (including Swabian and Walser as well as Swiss German).
> > The user concern that has been expressed is that "Alemani[c]; Swiss German"
> suggests that "gsw" can be used to mean two different things:
> > A) the collection of Alemannic languages (Swabian, Swiss German...), and also
> > B) the individual language Swiss German (whichever name may be used to refer
> to it)
> > Our intention is not that "gsw" can be used with a single meaning which is A, or
> that it can be used with two different meanings A and B. We intend it to mean just B.
> The only problem is that one of the English names used for B is the common English
> name for A.
> > I think the particular thing that led to this user comment was that, in the machine-
> readable file for 639-3 that contains the code set, Joan had picked "Alemanic" as the
> reference name; he saw that, but apparently did not also look at file containing
> alternate names (at one point that user did comment that "listing Alemanic as the
> only name" is a problem).
> > I think the problem can be resolved by the following:
> > - Having Joan change the reference name to "Swiss German" (or
> "SchwyzerdŁtsch", for that matter). The reference name is never the complete story,
> but to the extent that it gives a first-pass impression "Swiss German" doesn't have
> the ambiguity that "Alemannic" does, and so I think it may be preferable.
> > - Communicating that the reference name alone may not always be sufficient
> to convey to users the intended meaning of the identifier. (Joan could add that
> statement to the page on the 639-3 site where the data files can be downloaded.)
> > - Ideally, we would also have info with the gsw entry
> clarifying that the use of "Alemannic" is not intended to imply meaning A (above). On
> the 639-3 site, there are a couple of things that help: the entry indicates that it has a
> scope of individual language, not collection; and the more-information page for the
> entry has a link to the Ethnologue data describing the item in greater detail. At
> present, ISO 639-2 doesn't have any means of conveying additional information on
> individual entries, though.
> > Peter