[Printing-summit] UI Question - choosing from among 7, 000 language tags

McDonald, Ira imcdonald at sharplabs.com
Tue Oct 3 12:19:37 PDT 2006


The IETF LTRU (Language Tag Registry Update) Working Group
has recently published RFC 4645/6/7, which introduced the
Language _Subtag_ Registry (i.e., parts of language tags)
and obsoleted RFC 3066.

The IETF LTRU has just been rechartered to address adding
some 7,000 new language subtags (from the new ISO 639-3
standard now nearing completion).

Below is a note to the LTRU WG from John Cowan raising the
very important question of how to present such choices to
end users (in web browsers and other applications).

So, I'm forwarding this question to the Open Usability team
and the other readers of the Printing Summit mailing list.

Initial response on LTRU WG mailing list hasn't yielded any
practical approaches - a pull-down list with 7,000 choices
is obviously _not_ a good approach, as John says below.

- Ira

PS - John Cowan - if we get fruitful feedback, I'll forward
it to the LTRU list - the Open Usability team is designing
a toolkit independent next-generation printing dialogue for
Linux and other *nix systems - we will be meeting soon at
the Free Standards Group's Printing Summit in Lexington - see

Ira McDonald (Musician / Software Architect)
Blue Roof Music / High North Inc
PO Box 221  Grand Marais, MI  49839
phone: +1-906-494-2434
email: imcdonald at sharplabs.com

-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at ccil.org]
Sent: Monday, October 02, 2006 5:43 PM
To: ltru at ietf.org
Subject: [Ltru] OT: Managing the big list of subtags

How are we going to offer people a choice of language subtags in the RFC
4646bis regime?  A simple dropdown list is barely usable for RFC 4646,
and definitely isn't going to cut it for 4646bis.  This is off-topic,
as it doesn't contribute to the document any, but the right people to
discuss it are on this list.

Ethnologue provides information on which languages are spoken in which
countries, not necessarily 100% reliable, of course, and assigns a
single "home country" for each language (UK for English, e.g.).  Still,
it would be more than annoying to pick "US" from a country list, and
then scroll through 238 language subtags for languages spoken there,
not even counting immigrant languages!  (English is indeed one of them.)

I think an exchange of ideas would be useful.  Ethnologue and ISO
639-6 also provide language classification information that might also
be useful, though only a small fraction of people who use English would
think of it as "Germanic" or "Indo-European".

John Cowan  cowan at ccil.org  http://ccil.org/~cowan
Linguistics is arguably the most hotly contested property in the academic
realm. It is soaked with the blood of poets, theologians, philosophers,
philologists, psychologists, biologists and neurologists, along with
whatever blood can be got out of grammarians. - Russ Rymer

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