[sword-devel] language/locale codes

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Thu Nov 12 15:07:45 MST 2009

Karl Kleinpaste wrote:
> I find myself mystified as to why this is any real issue or why any
> particular choice here is labeled "wrong."  You want to localize to the
> user?  Fine, go ahead.  For Xiphos, we choose "all native, all the time,
> when we can."  We've had not one complaint and a couple thank-yous.

Where there is a reasonable expectation that the reader would expect to 
see a language name in its native form and in a multilingual context, I 
agree that the best option is to present in the native form. The only 
context where I see that being the case is within the module download 

In all other cases, I think the fallback mechanism DM described is 

1) present names localized to the user's locale preference when the data 
is present; if not,
2) present names in their native form when the data is present; if not,
3) present names in English, for which we have all data.

> I'd like to believe that those studying a particular (dead) language
> know what it looks like.  How would they not?  What does it mean to
> "study a language" when even its name is unfamiliar to the student?

The study of dead languages is very different from the study of living 
languages. People generally study living languages in order to 
communicate with others in that language (though I've had students who 
resented any kind of speaking or writing because all they cared about 
was passing translation exams). Communicative competence requires 
learning to interpret what is heard and read as well as to produce via 
spoken and written language. Learners of living languages probably know 
what they are called in their native form.

Dead languages have no native speakers with whom to communicate. Except 
for classical Greek and Latin, there's almost no productive use of dead 
languages. All study revolves around trying to interpret written, often 
fragmentary text. And unless someone happened to write something like "I 
speak <language>" it is unlikely that we know the native name of dead 

And, as I mentioned, many languages are almost exclusively studied in 
transliterated transcriptions because learning a new script may not be 
of interest to those not involved in epigraphy or who are working with 
fairly standard or badly deteriorated texts. You'll see this with 
Gothic, Cuneiform, and Hieroglyphic transliterated as Latin, Phoenician 
and Aramaic transliterated as Hebrew, etc.


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