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On Thu, Mar 02, 2000 at 04:23:28PM -0500, Rebecca S. Guenther wrote:
> To ISO 639/JAC:
>
> We had a meeting here at the Library of Congress of catalogers who are
> applying the language codes, and the difficulty of applying the three
> Norwegian codes was made clear.  It was felt that at least in the U.S.
> and probably most places outside of Norway those applying the codes may
> not have the expertise to be able to determine and it may not be
> desirable for searching and retrieval purposes to make such fine
> distinctions. There is also the problem that there exists two forms of the
> language, one based on Danish and one on Old Norse (this taken from
> Havard's ISO/DIS 639-l Annex C), while there are now 3 codes. As Havard
> stated at our meeting, this is a national rather than international need,
> although all of these codes are needed in Norway.
>
> This is a case that is bound to come up time and time again in this
> standard, when local needs conflict with international needs.  Those of us
> maintaining large bibliographic databases and producing large numbers of
> records may not be able to or want to make the fine distinctions that
> might be made in the countries where the language is spoken.

I am a bit puzzled abuut this lack of expertise in LC.
The difference between bokmål and nynorsk are quite distinctive.
There are a number of significant difeferences, eg the
pronomen for first singularis, ("I" in en) is "jeg" in
bokmål and "ek" in nynorsk. words like "what" "how" are quite
different, "hva" in nb, "kva, "kvorleis" in nn.
It is much harder  to tell the difference between Bokmål
and Danish in a writen text. How do your experts at LC do this
distinction?

I am a native Danish, and to me Bokmål is easy to understand,
while nynorsk can be a real pain. The difference is much
bigger than beteween American and English English.
They are two different languages, as far as I can tell,
and nynorsk is actually from another branch of Scandinavian
namely Old Norse, while bokmål is in the family together
with Swedish and Danish. You should rather propose that
Danish, Swedish and Bokmål be one language, than Bokmål
and Nynorsk to be one.

In short, I think what the JAC did was the right decision.
Nynorsk has more than 1 mill native speakers, in a highly
industrialized community, and it is very distinct from Bokmål.

Keld Simonsen