It is with increasing respect and wonder that I have followed the last days'
discussion of how to resolve the matter of the code for Plattdeutsch, a very
realistic and sound proposal. I understand we will get material for a formal
vote from Rebecca next week.

We have not decided, within 639-2, on how to handle dialects in a more
general way, although there are cases when a dialect is recognized in its
own right (criterion 1.2). Furthermore, the only rule for the code is to
base it on vernacular forms (crit. 2). Thus, I am surprised to see
connections to various German- or Saxon-based local names for something that
must be regarded as dialects brought forward to support "ndd" or similar
codes. My second surprise is to see the amount of comparative linguistics
brought forward.

John's reminder of UKMarc "gml" for Low German was very comforting, as was
his parallels with ger - gmh - goh - 639-2B.
As I see it, "gml" is, for the reasons John brings up, the only real
alternative to the fundamental vernacular "pld" from Rebecca. To improve
"gml", it might be argued to take away the "m", meaning "Middle" in "gmh",
and establish the code "gel" meaning "German, Low" regardless of time. But
the examples given in the proposal were, if I remember correctly, mainly
fetched from early material (but, admittedly, not from medieval but from
16th and 17th centuries).

Will the vote be more on what code than on the necessity to have a code? It
seems so. Preferrably, we would need to get a final suggestion of two codes
to choose between. Any more alternatives would be a nuisance to assess.

Sten Hedberg
Expert on cataloguing and standardisation
Uppsala University Library
POBox 510, S-751 20 UPPSALA Sweden
Voice +46-(0)18 471 3970
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