I was absent during the holiday period. Here are my reactions to Peter's
response to my proposal about Occitan and its dialects. Please find them
intégrated in Peter's text and preceded by ">>>".

May I send you all my best wishes for 2005 !

Anila Angjeli

Peter Constable <[log in to unmask]>> le 17/12/2004 21:14:26

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Objet :     RE: Réf. : Re: Occitan and ISO 639-3 : French linguistics

> From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of Anila
> Angjeli

> I'm proposing some "clean-up" actions regarding occitan...

I have had your message of Sept 21 tagged as needing attention, but never
found time to make it high enough priority. Your message today has prompted
me to act -- my apologies for putting this off.

Just a note: this relates to issue 4.10 in the "Issues to Resolve" document
(with many other open issues needing action by the JAC as soon as

The expert input from Patrick Sauzet is very valuable. In my role as editor
for ISO 639-3, I have no particular bias regarding whether or not to
include entries for Auvergnat, etc. In my role as SIL liaison, I have
submitted Patrick's input to the Ethnologue staff and await their comments.
As an individual member of the JAC, I find Patrick's comments reasonably
convincing, but inasmuch as I also sit in the liaison role I don't feel I
can make any decision regarding removal of the six contested entries in the
draft table for ISO 639-3 until I have heard back from Ethnologue staff.

Regarding the proposed change to names, I have no objection to changing the
name associated with "pro" to "Occitan, Old (to 1500)".  The proposed
change of name for "oci" is trickier. (Of course, the proposed change
presumes agreement on removing Auvergnat, etc. from the draft table for ISO
639-3, which as noted I cannot yet form an opinion on. My comments that
follow will assume this decision has been agreed upon, however.)

IMO, alternate names listed for a given entry should be alternate labels
for the same entity. But I don't think the suggestion here is that (e.g.)
"Auvergnat Occitan" and "Gascon Occitan" are the same thing. I think it
would be confusing and not a good precedent to list names of distinct
dialects as alternate language names. Thus, I would not support the
proposed name change in this case.

>>>As a matter of fact the alternate labels for the same entitiy "Auvergnat
Occitan" and "Gascon Occitan", etc. which I propose, are valuable only for
ISO 639-2 inorder to render more tangible the hierarchical relationship
between Occitan and its dialects. However, bearing in mind that both
standards tend to "merge", I understand that these labels are not quite
convenient, although adequate. Nevertheles I think that it is necessary to
find the means to express this relationship.

Of course, this leaves open the need to clarify the intended meaning of
"oci" and it's relationship to the varieties referred to as "Auvergnat"
etc. This is just an instance of a more general problem in ISO 639,
however: a few names are not always adequate to indicate what the intended
meaning is, and what the expectations on usage are. There simply are cases
where more information is necessary (a point Gary Simons and I made in a
paper back in 2000).

One possibility for ISO 639-3 is that each entry in the code table points
to an entry in the Ethnologue or other sources to provide background
information that would make clear what the intended denotation is. At a
minimum, a "comments" field is needed, and might be a useful addition for
the ISO 639 code tables. If there were a comments field, then that is where
I would indicate for the "oci" ID, "Encompasses Auvergnat, Gascon,
Languedocien, Provençal, Shaudit, Vivaroalpine."

>>>I agree, provided that Ethnologue be modified as far as Occitan and its
dialects is concerned.

With regard to the proposed change of identifier for Old Provençal / Old
Occitan, I strongly object. Stability of identifiers is far more important
than a mnemonic relationship to preferred language names, or than having
similar identifiers for closely-related languages. If this were to be
changed, we would be subject to a very high level of flak from several

>>> The proposal I made tended to bring some consistency in the framework
of the identification of a given language and its dialects and that because
the combination "ocm" was available. However, I am higly aware that the
change of identifiers will probably bring about more troubles than comfort.

Peter Constable