Rebecca and JAC,

I just had a conversation with the Ethnologue Editor, in which we reviewed 
the comments of a Swiss linguist working with SIL who had assisted in the 
revision of the [gsw] record prior to the 15th edition. The Ethnologue 
editor felt that it would be quite in keeping with his comments to support 
the addition of the name Alsatian (and alsacien) as a name by which the 
=language= is known.


"Rebecca S. Guenther" <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent by: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>
2008-02-25 04:45 PM
Please respond to
ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>

[log in to unmask]


Back to the issue of adding the alternative language names "Alsatian" and
"alsacien" (French) to the code "gsw". I thought that the below gives some
justification for this. See the email exchange. We started talking about
this some time ago.

Does anyone object to adding these? I don't think we need a formal ballot
(at least we haven't always had them in the past when we've done this sort
of thing).


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2008 22:13:23 +0100
From: Stephane Bortzmeyer <[log in to unmask]>
To: Rebecca S. Guenther <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: [log in to unmask], Stephane Bortzmeyer <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: ISO 639-2 Language Code Change Request

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 10:27:15AM -0500,
 Rebecca S. Guenther <[log in to unmask]> wrote 
 a message of 101 lines which said:

> Essentially the question we discussed is whether "Alsatian" is
> perceived as a name of a dialect, or as a name for the language.

That's a difficult question. The alsatian-speaking people I know,
starting with my father, do not see alsatian as a dialect of alemannic
(which is how it is described in They see it as a
language or as a dialect of standard german. I do not dispute the
opinion of the linguists of, I just describe how people
feel about their language.

> If it is a dialect, we do not necessarily add an alternate name for
> it, since we say in the introduction that a dialect is coded for the
> language of which it is a variant.

Currently, the english description of gsw in ISO 639-2 says:

Swiss German

The french description just says:


I do not see why the "Swiss German" variant is mentioned and not
Alsatian. This language is not specifically swiss (it is spoken in
France, Germany, Switzerland and even a bit of western
Austria). (Also, "Swiss German" is not an ideal description, there are
many variants of alemannic in Switzerland, quite different from each
other, and "Swiss German" can be confused with de-CH, a different

Either you use only "alemannic" or you should add the names of the
common variants. I would prefer the second solution, which would
facilitate the search in the registry.

> If you could provide a citation from a reputable source that states
> that indeed this is the case, we can add it as an alternate name.

For instance, these books use the word "alsacien" (alsatian in french)
as a language in their title.

    * (fr) "L'alsacien, deuxième langue régionale de France" Insee,
    Chiffres pour l'Alsace no. 12, December 2002

    * (fr) Brunner, Jean-Jacques. L'alsacien sans peine. ASSiMiL,
      2001. ISBN 2-7005-0222-1

    * (fr) Laugel-Erny, Elsa. Cours d'alsacien. Les Editions du Quai,
      1999. ISBN 978-2903548018