Re: [Ltru] "X" vs. 'X (macrolanguage)"

"Mark Davis" <> Sat, 08 December 2007 18:45 UTC

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Date: Sat, 08 Dec 2007 10:44:58 -0800
From: Mark Davis <>
To: Doug Ewell <>
Subject: Re: [Ltru] "X" vs. 'X (macrolanguage)"
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Good points. My primary concern is with the presentation of language names
in UIs, and a listing of Swahili like the following is not going to be
comprehensible to anyone except for the 0.0000005% of people who are
familiar with these standards. It's a bit better with the names for Chinese,
as you point out.

Swahili (macrolanguage)
Swahili (individual language)

although even with Chinese, someone is going to be confused as to which they
should pick.

Now before someone says it, I realize that the names in a UI don't have to
be the same as the names in the registry. But the closer we get them to
being understandable by mortals, the more likely it is that we will have
non-confusing names show up in UIs. We might even leave the above in the
registry, but have a note in 4646bis about the names. So I think it's worth
our taking at least a little bit of time to discuss this.

The best I could think of off-hand was something like.
Swahili (general)

and maybe some UI device like a link on general to get to a box with more

As it turns out, there are just 4 ambiguous names after removing "
(macrolanguage)" and " (individual language)":

  dgo <> Dogri
Konkani  mly <> Malay
swh <> Swahili
  doi <> Dogri
Konkani  msa <> Malay
swa <> Swahili
In all other cases, the names are different, often the result of some
adjective modifying the individual language. It appears that there are a
number of alternate names in SIL; perhaps we can use one of the alternate
names (or have a note that points to the possible use of alternate names?)

doi: Dhogaryali, Dogari, Dogri Jammu, Dogri-Kangri, Dogri Pahari, Dongari,
Hindi Dogri, Tokkaru
kok: Konkan Standard, Bankoti, Kunabi, North Konkan, Central Konkan,
Concorinum, Cugani, Konkanese
msa: Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Malayu, Malayu, Melaju, Melayu, Standard Malay
swa: Kiswahili, Kisuaheli


On Dec 8, 2007 9:56 AM, Doug Ewell <> wrote:

> Mark Davis wrote:
> > I'd favor:
> >
> > Description: Swahili
> >
> > A vanishingly small number of people will know what "macrolanguage"
> > means or how it should be translated, so having it be part of the name
> > would be clumsy.
> It's going to be confusing no matter what we do, because most people
> think 'sw' refers to Swahili, the individual language, and now we are
> telling them that language is really 'swh'.  This is worse than the
> Chinese case, where at least none of the encompassed languages is called
> simply "Chinese."
> > I also thought we were going to have macrolanguage as a field -- that
> > would be clean way to do it, and if so, then including "
> > (macrolanguage)" would also be redundant.
> But the macrolanguage 'sw' won't be marked in any special way; only the
> presence of other language subtags with "Macrolanguage: sw" will provide
> any clue.
> I can see advantages and disadvantages to both sides here.  I also don't
> like exposing the term "macrolanguage" in user interfaces (c'mon, you
> know the Description fields will end up there) and forcing civilians to
> understand what a macrolanguage is.  But then what does it mean to have
> a choice between plain "Swahili" and "Swahili (individual language)"?
> And what about the people who said we MUST keep all the ISO 639 names
> intact, without changing so much as a hyphen or apostrophe, so the
> subtags could be related back to the standard?   I hope more people
> contribute their thoughts on this.
> --
> Doug Ewell  *  Fullerton, California, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14
> <>
>  ˆ

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