Language tags redux (was: Re: About cultural/languages communities flags)

Ken Whistler kenwhistler at
Fri Feb 13 10:12:51 CST 2015

Philippe may have overlooked the fact that this has been tried (years 
ago) in the
Unicode Standard. See: language tags.

The syntax for those even goes beyond just ISO 639-2/3 to incorporate
the full range of BCP 47 tags, in principle.

But the catch is that the language tag characters ended up *deprecated*,
precisely because attempting to do this kind of thing in plain text is the
wrong thing to do -- it interferes with the level-appropriate language
tagging mechanisms available in markup.

I see no point in speculating about reinventing this particular broken 
wheel one
more time for the Unicode Standard.


On 2/12/2015 9:22 PM, Philippe Verdy wrote:
> Another solution isalso to not extend the scope of use of RIS 
> characters (leave them as they are for ISO3166-1 based codes only), 
> but defne a separate set with "Language Indicator Symbols" (LIS) 
> working the same way, but based on ISO 639-2 or -3 (3-letter codes, 
> accepting also the language family codes also encoded on 3 letters, as 
> well as alll -3 macrolanguages such as "zho" for Chinese or "que" for 
> Quechua).
> Nowhere, that will mean that Unicode defines what is a valid language 
> or not. All well-formed triplets are valid, and users are free to use 
> 3-code sequences of LIS to do what they want as long as this respects 
> the known ISO639 standard (otr its history, including retired codes). ...

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