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

"Doug Ewell" <doug@ewellic.org> Fri, 22 November 2019 21:05 UTC

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From: "Doug Ewell" <doug@ewellic.org>
To: "Christian Galinski" <christian.galinski@chello.at>, "'Fourney, David'" <david.fourney@usask.ca>
Cc: Melinda_Lyons@sil.org, "'Sebastian Drude'" <Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com>, "ietf-languages" <ietf-languages@iana.org>
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Subject: 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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Hi Christian,
 
> Many true sign languages (se definitions below), such as “ase”
> (American Sign Language [ASL], which /fictively/ might even have a
> Newfoundland and Labrador variety – to be coded ase-CA-NL in line
> with BCP47 rules) have already a language identifier.

 
This example is actually not valid BCP 47 syntax. The use of ISO 3166-1 country codes as region subtags doesn't extend to appending ISO 3166-2 subdivision codes directly. You would need to use "ase-u-sd-canl" or "ase-CA-u-sd-canl". See UTS #35, Section 3.6.5.
 
> The question to Doug is, how the BCP and Unicode rules deal with the
> above-mentioned difference between (true) “individual sign languages”
> and the “signed language modality” (as a sort of “transform” of any
> individual language)?
 
I don't believe there are or should be any "Unicode rules" (which I assume refers to CLDR and the 't' or 'u' extension) that deal with this.
 
One approach would be to request a variant subtag, such as 'signed', to represent the signed modality of a spoken language, such as (but not limited to) Signing Exact English. See RFC 5646, Section 2.2.5 for details on variant subtags and Section 3.6 for details on requesting a registration.
 
However, some may argue that modality is beyond the scope of BCP 47 variants and would suggest a CLDR extension to deal with this within the 't' extension framework. In that case, your best bet would be to contact cldr-contact@unicode.org .
 
--
Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, US | ewellic.org" href="http://ewellic.org" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">ewellic.org


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: language identifiers for sign languages (incl. sgn) vs.
attribute for indicating the representation of an individual language in
"sign language modality"
From: "Christian Galinski" <christian.galinski@chello.at>
Date: Fri, November 22, 2019 11:48 am
To: "'Fourney, David'" <david.fourney@usask.ca>
Cc: <Melinda_Lyons@sil.org>, "'Sebastian Drude'"
<Sebastian.Drude@outlook.com>, <doug@ewellic.org>

Dear David,

 

First I have to apologize for my long silence – I was absorbed with work on several standards.

 

We are now at a crucial moment where things need to be clarified in ISO 639-4 “language coding” (and ISO/TR 21636 “Language varieties”) – including your issue of how to identify “individual sign languages” (i.e. true individual sign languages, which are not just a modality of spoken language) and the “signed language modality” which is a signed representation of a spoken language).

 

  1. concerning the difference between “individual sign languages” and “signed language modality”, the use of the language identifier “sgn” (in library use) is confined to an unidentifiable individual sign language – it is NOT referring to a “signed language modality”. According to the fundamental rules of language coding, we cannot change the scope of “sgn”, nor ignore the difference between sign language and the signed language modality.
    Therefore, for the sign language modality we need an “attribute” to be added to the language identifier of an individual language, e.g. if the sign language modality of the type of “Signing Exact English” is used.

  2. However, I could not find an identifier for signed language modality, nor a mechanism for inserting an identifier for this in:

The regular order of attributes to a language tag (language identifier) is “lang-geogr” (dialect), or “lang-script” (language written in a certain script) or “lang-script-geogr” (language in a script in a certain region). In between, a “t” (for “transform” in the meaning of transcription, transliteration, translation or other) may be inserted.

 

From your experience/problems with video technology (and HTML), the questions to you would be:

  1. Many true sign languages (se definitions below), such as “ase” (American Sign Language [ASL], which /fictively/ might even have a Newfoundland and Labrador variety – to be coded ase-CA-NL in line with BCP47 rules) have already a language identifier.
    Does it need another attribute to further specify them as a sign language? In that case, an attribute must be found which is different from “sgn”. How could it look like?

  2. In the case of a signed language modality, such as “Signing Exact English” the core language identifier for English would be “eng”. It would need an attribute to identify it as the signed language modality (which could be followed by a country code, if there are “dialects” of /fictive/ eng-xxx-AUS meaning “Signing Exact English as used in Australia”. What could “xxx” indicating “signed language modality look like?

  3. It probably would not help to use an attribute identifier “Xxxx” in the slot of “script code”, as a signed language modality might slightly differ depending on the script used, even if it is the same spoken language (represented in different scripts in different areas/communities).

  4. Could the “t” (transform) symbol be of help – as a given signed language modality somehow is a “transformation” of a spoken language?

 

  1. The above questions (resp. the answer to them) could have an impact on ISO 639 and ISO/TR 21636 insofar as we should not formulate provisions in these documents which conflict with other standards. We should rather try to find generic solutions.

 

The question to Doug is, how the BCP and Unicode rules deal with the above-mentioned difference between (true) “individual sign languages” and the “signed language modality” (as a sort of “transform” of any individual language)? see the respective terminology entries below

 

Best regards

Christian

 

 

p.s.

In the most recent revised version of ISO 639-4 we came up with the following terminology entries:

individual sign language

NOT: signed language

individual language (3.1.3) having the visual-spatial language modality (3.5.1) as basic modality

Note 1 to entry: Usually “sign language” appears as part of the name of the respective individual language.

EXAMPLE: ASL (American Sign Language); )

 

signed language modality

NOT: sign language

visual-spatial language modality (3.5.1) that uses a combination of hand shapes, palm orientation and movement of the hand, arm or body, and facial expression