Thanks for the report, Joan.
Of all the changes, clearly the split of Valencian from Catalan is the most significant and most controversial. IMO, we should remain very cautious regarding this proposed change. Clearly, this is a political issue, and we need to be careful that we not become engaged in more than we should.
While 22 of the 28 comments were in support of the change, 13 of them come from members of one institution, the Polytechnical University of Valencia,. These are teachers of engineering, mathematics, physics, chemistry… they are providing personal opinions, not expert linguistic or sociolinguistic analysis. Not that all the comments against were from people with linguistic or socilinguistic expertise; we just need to be careful not to be led by sheer numbers alone. What we *don’t* have is comments from linguistic experts that don’t have an emotional or political vested interest.
Looking at the comments, I am strongly swayed by the following:
- The analysis of the Spanish Supreme Court, which comes out against claims that Valencian is a distinct language.
- The analysis of l’Acadèmia Valenciana de la Llengua, cited in the Supreme Court document, which states that Valencian, Catalan and Balear are one language:
The agreement of the Valencian Academy of the Language of 9 of February of 2005 is specially significant, by that it is approved the opinion on the principles and criteria for the defense of the denomination and the organization of the Valencian. In this opinion one affirms that own and historical the language of the Valencians, from the point of view of the philology, is also the one that they share the Independent Communities of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands and the Principality of Andorra, and that the different ones you speak of all these territories constitute a language, a same linguistic system; one also says that to share a language it does not imply that the Valencians do not have own signs of identity and characteristics, and that perceive them like clearly differentiated from those of other towns that use that same language; and that is a fact that in Spain are two equally legal denominations to designate this language: Valencian the one of and the one of Catalan.
(Translation courtesy of WorldLingo.)
If we need a basis to reject the request while claiming to remain apolitical, we could cite the Supreme Court document, which appears to reflect a greater degree of analysis than we could provide, and is the *one* commentary we have received that appears to evaluate without a priori bias.
There are two arguments made by those supporting the request that I’d like to comment on:
- ‘To our surprise , what used to be a a historical golden language (Valenciano) has now become a “dialect”. And what used to be a dialect ( Barceloni/Catalan) has now become a “language”…’ (Teresa Puerto Ferre -- #21)
Our position should be that ISO 639 does *not* claim Valencian is a dialect of or has lower status than Catalan. Rather, ISO 639 considers “Valencian” and “Catalan” to be alternate names for one language and codes these names with a common identifier.
- “Not possessing an ISO code for the Valencian language puts hurdles for the execution of major linguistic and IT projects, some of them already in progress and others to be tackled in the near future.” (Juli Amadeu Àrias i Burdeos -- #27)
It should be noted that no specific requirement for a separate identifier for linguistic or IT projects has been in any way demonstrated. (IMO, we should require such evidence before accepting this request.) It should further be noted that in protocols that support IETF Language Tags, the tag “ca-valencia” is provided to declare content as “Valencian”, as opposed to “Catalan”.