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From:  Michael Everson
Date:  Fri Aug 20, 1999  4:31 pm
Subject:  Re: Acronyms (one last time :-)

Ar 10:58 -0400 1999-08-20, scríobh Angus B. Grieve-Smith:
>On Fri, 20 Aug 1999, Valerie Sutton wrote:
>> Plus, Michael also devised a way to refer to dialects and several
>> signed languages within one country. See his web page:
>This is a good start, but it still privileges one signed language
>as the "unmarked" language of a country.

I think this is saying rather too much. French Sign Language is the
predominant sign language in France. The SIL Ethnologue identified another,
Lyons Sign Language. I simply applied the ISO 3166 country code to each
sign language described (in this case sgn-FR), and the ISO 3166 regional
code where necessary (sgn-FR-69, the code for Rhônes).

Canada is problematic, since SIL suggests that Canadian Sign Language has
features of British Sign Language in it. Maybe it doesn't need to be listed
as a unique entity _at_ _all_. But say that it does. ISO 3166 country code
sgn-CA identifies it well enough, and the French SL is identified with the
ISO 3166 regional code (sgn-CA-QP, the code for Québec).

>However, ASL is only used by a portion of
>the country's signers; a large number of them use LSQ. Why was ASL chosen
>to receive the name "Canadian Sign Language," when LSQ is the one that is
>truly indigenous to Canada? What about the two other signed languages
>listed as spoken in Canada, Eskimo Sign Language and Nova Scotian Sign

Um, these codes are identifiers. They are not supposed to be encyclopaedic.
They are not supposed to reflect "indigenousness". Eskimo Sign Langauge was
identified with the ISO 3166 regional code NT (Nunavut) and Nova Scotian
Sign Language was identified with the ISO 3166 regional Code NS (Nova

>My point is that people setting standards have no business furthering
>the dominance of one language group over another by setting one
>up as the "default" for that country.

This is really saying too much. They are only strings. They were based on
the common names available to me, from the SIL Ethnologue. These names are
"nationally" based. Dominance of language groups is not "furthered" by a
set of codes intended for use for example in HTML headers usually not even
displayed to the user.

>I would suggest that wherever there
>is a country with more than one signed language, or a SL with more than
>one dialect, that ALL signed varieties be expressed with a suffix, so
>"Canadian Sign Language" would be "sgn-CA-eng" to show that it is usually
>spoken by people connected with the English Canadian cultures.

I really do prefer the simpler method I have proposed, which is
uncontroversial in the great majority of cases. Martha's Vinyard Sign
Language is not American Sign Language. Both are indigenously American. But
it's easy to localize Martha's Vineyard to the ISO 3166 regional code MA
(Massachussetts) and leave sgn-US as it is for ASL.

I don't think that an indication of the dominant _spoken_ language in the
region is a very good way of identifying a sign language. "sgn-eng-CA"
would be Signed English used in Canada (and it refers directly to a spoken
language), and so "sgn-CA-eng" is confusing. I specifically chose
"sgn-fre-CA" for Signed French used in Canada as opposed to "sgn-CA-QP" for
French Canadian Sign Language.

I have not endeavoured at this stage to identify dialects. There is some
information in the Ethnologue for some countries. Shall we review that? The
SIL may not be the best source for many entries.

I'll look over the list of all countries which have more than one sign
language, and see what the problems might be.

Michael Everson * Everson Gunn Teoranta *
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
Guthán: +353 1 478 2597 ** Facsa: +353 1 478 2597 (by arrangement)
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

  Replies Author Date
1711 Acronyms - A suggestion barbara o'dea Fri  8/20/1999
1717 Re: Acronyms - A suggestion Angus B. Grieve-Smith Sun  8/22/1999

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