Rebecca reminded me yesterday that Võro is still up in the air. The Library of Congress has only a handful of items in or about Võro. Right now the MARC code list for languages has [est] as the code for Estonian and the collective code for Setu. I plan to establish the subject heading Võro dialect and to let [est] serve as the collective code for Karksi, Mulgi, Setu, and Võro.
Cooperative Cataloging Program Specialist
Data Integrity Section
Policy and Standards Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540
(Nothing in this message is to be taken as a statement of official LC policy, etc.)
I support option 3 more strongly than option 2.
Peter's recalling of the history with fy/fry is relevant, and it continues to circulate as a complaint in the IETF-languages community up to the present. Continuing to call [est] simply Estonian and not treating it as a macrolanguage will perpetuate confusion regarding the inclusion of Võro or other southern varieties within it. Changing its name is, I think, a more significant "narrowing" of [est] than the parallel situation with Khasi and Lyngngam. In that precedent setting case, the "chip" Lyngngam had no established written form, very little or no published corpus in the world's libraries, and is only now getting a consistent orthography. In contrast, Võro and Setu documents exist in decent numbers, likely in numerous libraries, and harken back to a history wherein their historically influencial sister dialect, Tartu, is represented by many more documents.
I also think that Estonian fits the desired application of macrolanguage in terms of the sociolinguistic situation and relationship between Standard Estonian and Võro, in that, within the larger world of languages, Estonians would identify as speaking "Estonian", and would tend to differentiate only when considering a context of one Estonian to another (I am referring to "the man on the street" not to promoters of Võro as a repressed minority language community). The government is supporting its development (e.g., as a subject in school, for use in media, etc.), but not as an official language for use in any major domain (e.g., not the language of instruction in other subjects in schools), but views it as being within the larger Estonian sphere. See Language Policy in Estonia and On the Identity of the Members of the Võru Society in Tallinn
If Võro had already existed in the draft ISO 639-3 code set, along with a Northern Estonian / Standard Estonian (not saying those are equivalent, but not yet deciding which would be best), and we had to reconcile them now with ISO 639-2 [est], what would be do?
Would we decide on a macrolanguage scope for [est] or would we conclude that [est] "really meant" Northern Estonian / Standard Estonian, despite what the MARC code list of says?
What will the MARC code list of languages say in the future?
I am also still waiting for some Baltic-Finnic languages scholar to come along and say, "Don't be silly, ISO 639-3, Võro is just a dialect of Estonian, sufficiently intelligible with a little effort." That is what the review process is supposed to be about. This "pre-processing" is to know how the whole thing ought to be framed to undergo that review.
I'd support either option 2 or option 3, though I think we need to be very cautious about option 2: this is similar to what we did in the case of fy/fry (clarified by changing name from "Frisian" to "Western Frisian"), and there have been a few in the IETF-languages community that have complained about that.
Whatever change we make, I think we need to make sure that the names we record reasonably reflect the intended semantic. So, if we adopt option 2, that would mean changing the name for et/est from "Estonian" to "Standard Estonian" or "Estonian (northern varieties)" or something else in that vein. And that change should be done in part 2 as well as part 3, even if an ID for Vöro isn't added to part 2.
From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Patton,Glenn
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 12:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Võro request revisited (again)
I would agree with Rebecca.
From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Rebecca S. Guenther
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 2:42 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ISOJAC] Võro request revisited (again)
I don't think that we have proven that Voro has satisfied the criteria for
639-2 (and Joan is not proposing that here), and we put it on hold until
requests were considered for 639-3 when we first got the request.
I would favor the 2nd alternative, to assign Voro a code element in 639-3
and leave Estonian as is for now to mean classic Estonian. I think it is
less disruptive for users.
On Wed, 27 Aug 2008, Joan Spanne wrote:
> Hello JAC,
> Time to revisit the Võro proposal yet again. I am going to attempt a
> summary of the case (this is not a history of the request).
> Sulev Iva has submitted a request for Võro to be separated from Estonian.
> He has done so both to the ISO 639-2 RA (way back in 2005), and
> subsequently to the ISO 639-3 RA in 2008 (when I received the forms).
> I sent a memo on May 29 to the JAC, some which I will paraphrase:
> It is fairly clear that this does not meet the criteria for "chipping off"
> because (1) there are a reasonable number of works identified as being in
> Võro (or Võru or Võrumaa, just different spelling) or Setu that use [est]
> in the 008/041 field just in the Library of Congress online catalog [my
> previous estimate was quite low; probably there are more than 40 works
> among the >4600 works in Estonian]; and (2) Setu, a variety that is very
> closely associated with Võro (sometimes as a sub-dialect, sometimes as a
> separate, close South Estonian variety; depends on the researcher) is
> declared by the MARC code list of languages to be included in the scope of
> This seems to be a candidate for a macrolanguage for Estonian [est]
> separating Northern Estonian (including Standard Estonian) and Võro.
> There is plenty of documentation that Võro is undergoing a process of
> active, intentional development and standardization as a literary
> language, based on spoken Võro and other South Estonian varieties,
> supported by the Estonian government through the Võro Institute. Present
> day Võro development is somewhat affected by the old South Estonian
> literary language Tartu, which has a distinct history going back to the
> 16th century through works coming from the Lutheran reformation. Setu,
> another South Estonian spoken variety, also has some influence. However,
> it appears that currently Võro is the variety experiencing the renaissance
> and standardization. (Sometimes it is actually referred to as Võro-Setu)
> It is really point 2 above that precludes chipping off (the MARC code list
> specification), as we do have a stable diglossia existing between Standard
> Estonian and Võro, and by my current estimate, we are still talking about
> less than 1% of the total number of written works. On the other hand, if
> we try to consider Southern Estonian more broadly for a split (or a
> macrolanguage), we would need to contend with the existence of older works
> written in Tartu, which could equally be described as Southern Estonian,
> while they would not be confused with works coming from the modern revival
> and standardization of Võro.
> There are four possible options:
> Split [est] into Standard Estonian (or Northern Estonian) and Võro (or
> Southern Estonian);
> Chip off Võro and simply assign it its own code element in Part 3 (I might
> argue that, during an earlier stage of 639 management, if the requester
> had demonstrated a sufficient number of documents, a Part 2 code element
> would probably have been assigned without much discussion);
> Change the scope of [est] to macrolanguage in Part 2 and assign two new
> code elements in Part 3 for Standard Estonian and Võro, Tartu as a
> historical language could be considered in the future without conflict;
> Do nothing and allow Part 6 to handle it.
> I think only 2 and 3 are worth considering. Either solution needs some
> clarification on the names to use.
> As to the last option, Peter asked earlier whether a Part 3 code element
> is really warranted. The need for a Part 3 code element relates to the
> extant and growing body of literature (including websites) in Võro, with
> standard dictionaries which could be used in spell checkers and other
> tools. The existence of a Part 3 code element carries weight with such
> bodies as the Wikimedia Foundation Language Subcommittee (which considers
> such as a strong factor in making a decision to authorize new language
> subdomains: wikipedias, wiktionaries, etc.). Apart from all that, the
> requester has demonstrated that, in terms of intelligibility, Võro should
> be considered a separate language from Standard Estonian. I don't think 4
> is an appropriate response, but the 639-3 RA cannot act on the request
> independently without agreement from the JAC.
> You might want to search the archives and review messages from 2008-05-29
> and 06-03, as well as further back in the archives.
> A very useful reference for me has been:
> Pajusalu, Karl, Eva Velsker and Ervin Org. 1999. "On recent changes in
> South Estonian: dynamics in the formation of the inessive." International
> Journal of the Sociology of Language [issue title: Estonian
> Sociolinguistics], 139: 87-103. Also the forward of the issue was quite
> See also the Võro Institute's website: http://www.wi.ee/
> and the page about the language in English: http://www.wi.ee/?id=64
> I will post the request from Sulev Iva by September 10, and I would like
> the request then to be in alignment with a direction set by the JAC, if
> possible. (It will be posted even if I get no further feedback before that
> date.) Please let us take action.