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The message below is forwarded to the ISO 639 JAC. I invite JAC members to discuss the matter.
 
Håvard
 
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Håvard Hjulstad
mailto:[log in to unmask]
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From: Lang Gérard [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, May 30, 2006 5:42 PM
To: Lang Gérard; Håvard Hjulstad
Cc: [log in to unmask]
Subject: RE: ISO 639 proposals rejected: Tok Pisin, Tetum, and Palauan

Dear Havard,
 
Coming back to my propositions about five new alpha-2 code elements in ISO 639-1 that have been apparently now rejected by
ISO 639-1/RA and ISO 639/RA-JAC, I make application of clause "A.3.4 Reservation of codes" of Annex A (normative) of ISO 639-1:2002 to ask for the reservation of:
-ns, for Northern Sotho (or Pedi) having the alpha-3 code element nso;
-pu, for Palauan having the alpha-3 code element pau;
-sy, for Seselwa Creole French included in the alpha-3 code element cpf;
-tp, for Tok Pisin having the alpha-3 code element tpi;
-tu, for Tetum having the alpha-3 code element tet. 
 
Très cordialement.
 
Gérard LANG
-----Message d'origine-----
De : Lang Gérard
Envoyé : lundi 22 mai 2006 11:46
À : Lang Gérard; 'Håvard Hjulstad'
Cc : [log in to unmask]
Objet : RE: ISO 639 proposals rejected: Tok Pisin, Tetum, and Palauan

Dear Havard,
 
Coming back to point three of my preseeding message,
I think that you are informed that Montenegro voted yesterday for separation with Serbia.
It was not possible to write it explicitely, but it is with this anticipation in mind (that the separation would come rapidly) that we accepted the proposition "CS" from the governement of Serbia-Montenegro.
So, this code element will rapidly be replaced by two new alpha-2 code elements that we have to choopse carefully.
-----Message d'origine-----
De : Lang Gérard
Envoyé : jeudi 20 avril 2006 16:29
À : 'Håvard Hjulstad'; Lang Gérard
Cc : [log in to unmask]
Objet : RE: ISO 639 proposals rejected: Tok Pisin, Tetum, and Palauan

Dear Havard,
 
I thank you very much for your prompt answer, and may I add some comments on this.
 
1-In my opinion, the first thing ISO entities should "strongly"do is to follow the normative clauses contained in the active standards they are entitled to manage. So for serbo-croatian, and so for alpha-2 ISO 639-1 code elements.
 
When I read the second part of clause 4.2 (Registration for new language identifiers) of ISO 639-1 (2002) saying that:
"All codes elements in the two letter code are also included in the three letter code and shall meet the selection criteria specified in ISO 639-2. Furthermore,  the following selection criteria shall be vonsidered:
-the number of speakers of the language community;
-recognized status of the language in one or more countries;
-the support by one or more official bodies"
 
I see no way for ISO 639/RA-JAC to lawfully reject my propositions  , as liaison officer from ISO/TC 46 to ISO/TC 37, to include in ISO 639-1  alpha-2 languages codes concerning languages having a recognized status in a country, and so spoken by a substantive fraction of the population living in this country, that already have an alpha-3 ISO 639-2 code and are so entitled to comply with all clauses of ISO 639.
 
2-Concerning  the IETF advocation, their position is not at all constraining for a normative purpose.
More than that, I recently have read an article by Addison P. Phillips "Understanding the new language tags, Part I (march 2006)", where this position is advocated in page 2, and I have not been convinced by the (for me very poor) argumentation, because I think that it is elementary for every well behaved computer (and natural person) to make the difference between an alphabetic chain of length 2 and an alphabetic chain of length 3, so that the risk of confusion they raise is null.
 
3-Concerning the reattribution of CS by ISO 3166, and the so-called "bad reputation" it raised for ISO 3166/MA, I am very surprised because it only proves that people that should be serious and read the normative texts that govern ISO 3166 (that explicitely permits such a reattribution, even if we try to avoid this [but, in this case we had very little choice]),  and also know the history (Before CS, others alpha-2 ISO 3166 code elements have been reattributed without any comment about this:AI, GE and SK !), do not work with sufficient culture.
Let me add that ISO 3166-1 explicitely speaks about the current situation; the history from 1974 is stated in ISO 3166-3.
A much more extended historic panorama (from 1815 [Congrès de Vienne] to 1974) is given in the french standard AFNOR XP Z
44-002  "Code pour la representation des noms de pays historiques (1997)", as this was precisely explained to Paul Towney and John Klensin (that received a postal version of it sended by me) in Geneva in 2000 when they met ISO 3166/MA for ICANN, so that the "internet world" could not ignore these informations.
 
4-Speaking about "bad reputation", what should members of ISO 3166/MA think about the use by ICANN of ".uk" when only ".gb" is correct ?
 
Très cordialement.
 
Gérard LANG
 
 
 -----Message d'origine-----
De : Håvard Hjulstad [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Envoyé : jeudi 20 avril 2006 14:31
À : Lang Gérard
Cc : [log in to unmask]
Objet : RE: ISO 639 proposals rejected: Tok Pisin, Tetum, and Palauan

Dear Gérard,
(copy to the JAC email list)
 
Thank you for your response (below).
 
Detailed principles for inclusion in the alpha-2 and the alpha-3 code tables of ISO 639 are developed by the ISO 639 JAC. It hasn't been possible to make absolutely "mechanical" rules, and we do sometimes have extensive discussions. However, in the case of these three items there was consensus.
 
As you will know the entire situation of ISO 639 is undergoing changes. The finalization of ISO 639-3 gives us a new situation. The JAC is currently revising its principles and working methods. The new principles will be publicized on the JAC web site.
 
It is a strong principle that it isn't in any way "better" for a language to be encoded in the alpha-2 table than just in the alpha-3 table. Alpha-2 and alpha-3 identifiers for the same item shall be considered synonyms for all applications. Future publication of the code tables will make this even more explicit.
 
The principle that I quote has been decided by the JAC, and it is a very "strong" principle. The reason is that adding additional (alpha-2) identifiers to items that already have ISO 639 alpha-3 identifiers will disrupt encoding and create problems for some users. The IETF has been a very strong advocate for this principle. In the aftermath of the disrupted encoding caused by the change of value for "CS" in ISO 3166, which has in fact given "ISO" bad reputation in the IETF and the "Internet community", the ISO 639 JAC has been extremely clear about our avoidance of changes that can cause disruptions.
 
As to the two following issues:
 
Northern Sotho / Pedi is encoded nso. A proposal to add an alpha-2 identifier has been discussed by the JAC earlier, and it was not raised again at this point. I am sorry that this hasn't been conveyed to you before.
 
Seselwa French Creole is a new item for ISO 639. It will be discussed and decided by the JAC in due time.
 
The final issue, Serbo-Croatian, has been discussed extensively by the JAC. There is no clear consensus as to how to resolve the issue in the best possible way. The JAC is fully aware that this is in conflict with the principle that the alpha-2 code table is a subset of the alpha-3 table (as far as included items is concerned). The JAC will find a way to resolve this conflict, but this may have a wait until 639-3 has been finalized.
 
Best regards,
Håvard
 
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Håvard Hjulstad
mailto:[log in to unmask]
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From: Lang Gérard [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 5:22 PM
To: Håvard Hjulstad
Cc: Lang Gérard
Subject: RE: ISO 639 proposals rejected: Tok Pisin, Tetum, and Palauan

Dear  Havard,
I have been very disappointed by the decisions of the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee concerning my proposal for identifiers
tp (tok pisin), tu (Tetum) and pu (Palauan). In fact, I found no trace of the principle you give in your message in the text of ISO 639-1 or of ISO 639-2 (and I do not even understand what could be the reason of such a principle).
I am also somewhat surprised not to know what happened with ns (Pedi or Northern sotho) and sy (Seselwa french creole).
And finally, could you also tell me what happened to my proposal about the alpha-3 code element shc for serbo-croatian, that is only the realisation of a commandment contained in the introduction of ISO 639-1 (2002) "The languages listed in ISO 639-1 are a subset of the languages coded in ISO 639-2" ana also in the introduction of ISO 639-2 (1998) "This part of ISO 639 represents all languages contained in ISO 639-1 and in addition..."; and so it should be imperative to ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee to comply with this commandment. 
Could you please tell me what was decided ?
Trés cordialement.
 
Gérard LANG
 
-----Message d'origine-----
De : Håvard Hjulstad [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Envoyé : dimanche 26 mars 2006 12:36
À : [log in to unmask]
Cc : [log in to unmask]
Objet : ISO 639 proposals rejected: Tok Pisin, Tetum, and Palauan

The ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee has rejected a proposal to assign alpha-2 language identifiers to the following three items:
 
Tok Pisin (alpha-3 identifier in ISO 639-2: "tpi" remains the only ISO 639 language identifier).
 
Tetum (alpha-3 identifier in ISO 639-2: "tet" remains the only ISO 639 language identifier).
 
Palauan (alpha-3 identifier in ISO 639-2: "pau" remains the only ISO 639 language identifier).
 
The ISO 639 JAC considered that the fact that these languages have official status in their countries not to be sufficient reason to deviate from the principle that alpha-2 identifiers should not be assigned to items that already have alpha-3 identifiers.
 
Best regards,
Håvard Hjulstad
(secretary ISO 639 JAC)
 
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Håvard Hjulstad
  Standard Norge / Standards Norway
  direkte tel / direct tel: (+47) 67838645
  mailto:[log in to unmask]
  http://www.standard.no/
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