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

McDonald, Ira imcdonald at sharplabs.com
Wed Oct 4 09:31:21 PDT 2006

Hi Michael,

You may have missed some of the subtleties here.

Documents stored on the web (especially HTML and
XML documents) will be tagged with their primary
natural language (e.g., in XML 'lang' element) -
and any of those 7,000 languages may very well be 
used - they all met strict _reality_ criteria set 
by the ISO 639-3 committee.  This is work derived
from the Ethnologue research effort.

Since most documents will NOT have a new 'script'
subtag in their language tag, the end user (and
print system) are left on their own to deduce the
probable script (and therefore necessary fonts)
from the language tag.

Also, since the new 'script' subtags (standardized
in ISO 15924) are _infixed_ (between language and
region) in RFC 4646, software that parses language
tags will all need to be updated (or ubiquitously
fail when 'script' subtags are present).

Don't shoot the messenger - I fought long and hard
for two years to keep 'script' subtags from being
infixed, with strong support from Ned Freed - but
we got shouted down in the LTRU WG.

- Ira 

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: Michael Sweet [mailto:mike at easysw.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 4:06 PM
> To: McDonald, Ira
> Cc: printing-summit at freestandards.org
> Subject: Re: [Printing-summit] UI Question - choosing from 
> among 7, 000
> language tags
> McDonald, Ira wrote:
> > Hi,
> > 
> > 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.
> Well, there is theory and there is practice.
> In theory, you might need a pull-down list with 7,000 choices.
> In practice, however, it is highly unlikely that any software
> vendor will provide 7,000 localizations, and applications can
> choose to list only those localizations that are installed on a
> system.
> In short, this sounds like a solution looking for a problem.
> -- 
> ______________________________________________________________________
> Michael Sweet, Easy Software Products           mike at easysw dot com
> Internet Printing and Document Software          http://www.easysw.com

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