Re: [Ietf-languages] [EXTERNAL] Re: language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs. attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in "sign language modality"

Peter Constable <petercon@microsoft.com> Tue, 26 November 2019 23:32 UTC

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From: Peter Constable <petercon@microsoft.com>
To: Christian Galinski <christian.galinski@chello.at>, ietf-languages <ietf-languages@iana.org>
Thread-Topic: [EXTERNAL] Re: [Ietf-languages] language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs. attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in "sign language modality"
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Subject: Re: [Ietf-languages] [EXTERNAL] Re: language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs. attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in "sign language modality"
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From: Peter Constable
Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2019 1:59 PM
To: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>rg>; Christian Galinski <christian.galinski@chello.at>
Cc: Fourney, David <david.fourney@usask.ca>ca>; Doug Ewell <doug@ewellic.org>rg>; jzag@loc.gov; Debra Russell <drussell@ualberta.ca>ca>; ietf-languages <ietf-languages@iana.org>rg>; Sebastian Drude <Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com>om>; Melinda Lyons <Melinda_Lyons@sil.org>rg>; Gary Simons <gary_simons@sil.org>rg>; 105-5-03 Hein, Anja <105-5-03@auswaertiges-amt.de>
Subject: RE: [EXTERNAL] Re: [Ietf-languages] language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs. attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in "sign language modality"

Oops! John was correct: I overlooked that the language subtag registry does record “sgn-US” as a redundant registration with the same meaning as (and preferred-value field of) “ase”. So, I stand corrected on that point.

Peter

From: Peter Constable
Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2019 1:43 PM
To: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org<mailto:cowan@ccil.org>>; Christian Galinski <christian.galinski@chello.at<mailto:christian.galinski@chello.at>>
Cc: Fourney, David <david.fourney@usask.ca<mailto:david.fourney@usask.ca>>; Doug Ewell <doug@ewellic.org<mailto:doug@ewellic.org>>; jzag@loc.gov<mailto:jzag@loc.gov>; Debra Russell <drussell@ualberta.ca<mailto:drussell@ualberta.ca>>; ietf-languages <ietf-languages@iana.org<mailto:ietf-languages@iana.org>>; Sebastian Drude <Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com<mailto:Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com>>; Melinda Lyons <Melinda_Lyons@sil.org<mailto:Melinda_Lyons@sil.org>>; Gary Simons <gary_simons@sil.org<mailto:gary_simons@sil.org>>; 105-5-03 Hein, Anja <105-5-03@auswaertiges-amt.de<mailto:105-5-03@auswaertiges-amt.de>>
Subject: RE: [EXTERNAL] Re: [Ietf-languages] language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs. attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in "sign language modality"

I mostly agree with John. A couple of comments:

[JC]> Thus the combined codes "sgn-ase" and "sgn-US" both represent ASL

Here I disagree with John: “sgn-US” would denote either _some signed language_ associated with the US, or a US regional variant of _some signed language_. It does not have the same denotation as “sgn-ase”.

[CG]> “sgn” attributed to a language identifier of an “individual sign language” could be used to make individual sign languages identifiable and searchable – e.g. (in ISO 639) “ase-sgn” = American Sign Language (ASL) and – if differentiation is necessary – “ase-CA-sgn” Canadian variant of American Sign Language

First, “ase-sgn” is not syntactically well-formed in BCP 47. But “sgn-ase” is syntactically well-formed, so I’ll assume that is what is being considered. With that in mind, the semantics of “sgn-ase” are identical to “ase”; the semantics of “sgn-ase-CA” are identical to “ase-CA”. If the suggestion is that including “sgn” as a subtag can facilitate searches for any signed-language content, that would be no more or less useful than searching for (say) any Romance language content, yet we would not for a moment recommend tagging French content as “roa-fra” rather than “fr”.


Peter


From: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org<mailto:cowan@ccil.org>>
Sent: Sunday, November 24, 2019 9:05 AM
To: Christian Galinski <christian.galinski@chello.at<mailto:christian.galinski@chello.at>>
Cc: Fourney, David <david.fourney@usask.ca<mailto:david.fourney@usask.ca>>; Peter Constable <petercon@microsoft.com<mailto:petercon@microsoft.com>>; Doug Ewell <doug@ewellic.org<mailto:doug@ewellic.org>>; jzag@loc.gov<mailto:jzag@loc.gov>; Debra Russell <drussell@ualberta.ca<mailto:drussell@ualberta.ca>>; ietf-languages <ietf-languages@iana.org<mailto:ietf-languages@iana.org>>; Sebastian Drude <Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com<mailto:Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com>>; Melinda Lyons <Melinda_Lyons@sil.org<mailto:Melinda_Lyons@sil.org>>; Gary Simons <gary_simons@sil.org<mailto:gary_simons@sil.org>>; 105-5-03 Hein, Anja <105-5-03@auswaertiges-amt.de<mailto:105-5-03@auswaertiges-amt.de>>
Subject: Re: [EXTERNAL] Re: [Ietf-languages] language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs. attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in "sign language modality"



On Sat, Nov 23, 2019 at 12:26 PM Christian Galinski <christian.galinski@chello.at<mailto:christian.galinski@chello.at>> wrote:


     *   “sgn” standing alone (similar to an individual language) would continue to mean unknown individual sign language or a signed language variety, such as fingerspelling etc. of an unspecified individual language

That seems a bit of a stretch.  'Sgn' is an ISO 639-5 code and as such represents a collection of languages; thus 'ase' is a member of 'sgn' whether it is signed or written, but 'eng' would not be understood as a member of 'sgn' even if signed.  Wisely, ISO 639-5 abstains from enumerating the languages which fall into each of its collections, since membership in most of them is dependent on scholarship, which is inherently unstable. Though such minor violations of tagging principles are routine, I would not like to see this elevated into a principle itself.


     *
     *   “sgn” attributed to a language identifier of an individual language (not being a sign language) could indicate one or the other kind of “signed language variety” – e.g. (in ISO 639) “eng-sgn” = English in signed language variety and – if differentiation necessary – “eng-UK-sgn” British English in signed language variety
     *   “sgn” attributed to a language identifier of an “individual sign language” could be used to make individual sign languages identifiable and searchable – e.g. (in ISO 639) “ase-sgn” = American Sign Language (ASL) and – if differentiation is necessary – “ase-CA-sgn” Canadian variant of American Sign Language

I have strong objections to this on both process and principled grounds.

Historically, the meaning of particular codes has been the domain of the various ISO 639 RAs (as well as the ISO 3166-1 MA and the ISO 15924 RA.  However, there is a strong de facto standard, IETF BCP 47, for the use of these codes in combination.  ISO could assume responsibility for that code combination standard.  But it would be quite another matter (and very undesirable) for ISO to specify meanings for combined codes that *contradicts* BCP 47.  Neither of your cases (b) and (c) is conformant with either the syntax or the principles of BCP 47.

In particular, one of those principles is that BCP 47 tags label rather than classifying.  There are exceptions to this, but most of them exist for historical reasons.  Thus the combined codes "sgn-ase" and "sgn-US" both represent ASL, and may be suitable in particular circumstances; but the preferred method is to use simply "ase" without combination.  The knowledge that ASL is a sign language (i.e. it belongs to the "sgn" collection)  is not determinable from the code alone, any more than the knowledge that English is a Germanic language (i.e. it belongs to the "ger" collection) and is generally written in the Latin script can be determined from the code alone.


     *

  1.  As there seems to be a need for much more refined differentiations, codes for such “sgn” varieties could be added in an additional code-slot; the maintenance of these codes would need to be taken care of by the respective stakeholders, but – if possible/desired – coordinated with the ISO 639 maintenance rules and procedures.
  2.  If the need for other kinds of language modalities arises (considering the whole range of full individual languages to (drummed, whistled, haptic etc.) modalities of any identified individual language), it would need an attribute that can probably be used in code combinations in the slot foreseen for “sgn”. Here too then, codes for varieties of such modalities could be added in an additional slot. Should such a code for an attribute for language modalities be considered already now or be left for the future?
My points made above also apply here.



John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan<https://nam06.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http:%2F%2Fvrici.lojban.org%2F~cowan&data=02%7C01%7Cpetercon%40microsoft.com%7C36fdf11da7134090245c08d771006b2e%7C72f988bf86f141af91ab2d7cd011db47%7C1%7C0%7C637102118916005605&sdata=8u4%2FhIq41cl5mq0wyPTBK6UWEPj6hN3mjHe64Q1AkAQ%3D&reserved=0>        cowan@ccil.org<mailto:cowan@ccil.org>
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