I wish we had done numeric identifiers, but obviously it is too late now!
Actually my conversation with the man was very pleasant and he was very deferential and didn't ask us to reinstate "mol" or change the decision in any way. He was mainly gathering information. The problem is that the person who submitted the request (Bogdan Stancescu), who apparently is the editor of the Romanian Wikipedia, wrote an article in a Romanian newspaper basically saying that there will no longer be anything called the Moldovan language anymore. He bragged about being the one to initiate this and get it through the ISO 639 JAC and said that he was included in the JAC's deliberations and privy to its inner workings. He seems to think that he alone has made this happen and that it was very easy to get it through (almost encouraging others to put in requests). That was a big problem for the Moldovans, of course, seeing an article that said they no longer had a language called Moldovan. Needless to say this was a misinterpretation and I don't know where he got this idea that he was in on the committee discussions. It is probably because both Joan and I received emails from him and we answered him. He was very insistent and demanding in several messages to me. So the very pleasant young man from the Moldovan embassy wanted to gather information about our process, how the language codes are used, what the meaning of the change is, and whether we really did wipe out the Moldovan language. He seemed perfectly satisfied with my answers that it was based on linguistic evidence (with which he didn't argue) and we remain outside any political situations. He did tell me about what is going on there now, that there are elections coming up, and some movements for the country to join Romania to be part of the EU. So it is an inflammatory time there for this sort of decision to have been made. He was debating whether to respond to the article and thought that perhaps it would only inflame the situation. But he did ask if I was willing to make a statement if they decide to respond stating that this was a linguistic, not political decision and that Moldovan was still an accepted name for the language.
The most disturbing part is how the requester claimed that he was so powerful to force us to make this change, that he gained special access to our deliberations, and then totally misrepresented the situation in the press. I am not sure if I should respond to him (privately) or not (or whether we as a committee should). Any advice would be appreciated.
>>> Joan Spanne <[log in to unmask]> 11/19/08 5:30 PM >>>
I wonder if the identifier were [xyz] instead of [rum] or [ron] would
there be less objection? (The same would be true for Catalan and
Valencian, and others.) I am as aware as all of you that the identifier is
not intended to be an abbreviation, and I am not suggesting changing the
identifier, so please don't jump on that. I am looking for a way to
communicate to the Moldovan community that "Moldovan" is not a secondary
or lesser name or variety of the language.
Rebecca S Guenther <[log in to unmask]>
Sent by: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>
2008-11-18 10:24 AM
Please respond to
ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>
[log in to unmask]
I hope we didn't make a mistake
Dear ISO 639 JAC:
I have someone coming to meet with me tomorrow from the Moldovan embassy.
He mentioned that the issue has been in the press (and Michael forwarded
something from the Romanian newspaper which I couldn't read-- it has also
been in the Moldovan newspaper). Of course the whole thing was taken out
of context and apparently the article in the Moldovan paper said that
because we made this change that the US government supports combining
Romanian and Moldovan-- and maybe even in their dispute over whether they
should be one country (that was the implication-- I'm not sure exactly
what was said). This of course is silly, but shows how important these
people consider their languages having separate identities.
I will report after my meeting with him, but I did go back and look at
some old messages (which I wish I had looked at before we made this
decision a few weeks ago) and found these:
The whole conversation took place in July 2005; you can see in the
I am sort of sorry we didn't consult more widely, but I guess it is too
I will point out to him that retired code elements do not mean that they
are not in records. However, we have now removed "mo/mol" from our
Are there any other options as to how to document this?
Of course, we have always taken currently unused codes out, so this would
be a change in our process and I am not sure how it would work with our
MARC language code list-- it lists the deprecated codes in a separate
section and not in the main part.