::Spurious languages


Codes::february    Section::article    Proposal::names    Language::spurious    Don't::other    Would::march

== SIL codes vs. ISO codes ==

Both official ISO 639-3 codes and the older, privately-assigned codes from SIL are listed on this page. SIL codes were generally given in ALL CAPS, while ISO 639-3 codes are always given in lower case. I'd like to propose that this article use ALL CAPS for codes that were only SIL codes (prior to 2006), and reserve lower case for genuine ISO 639-3 codes. I'd suggest doing this even if nothing changed in the switch from a private system to a public standard in 2006 other than the shift from upper to lower case, to make it clearer which system is being referenced. I'm not going to "be bold" and just make the change myself now, since I'm associated with Ethnologue and have submitted several change requests to ISO 639-3, so I'm not a neutral party. But, I'll propose the idea here, and if anyone else agrees and wants to make the change, go ahead. After a few months, if there's been no comment for or against this proposal, I may go ahead and do it, but for now, it's just a proposal. AlbertBickford (talk) 21:27, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

I have no objection. Please go ahead and make the changes as you see fit. We're more concerned w the COI of affiliated people censoring the negative or exaggerating the positive re. their organizations than w correcting objective discrepancies like this.
OK. I think I'll wait a little longer. When the proposal about Yiddish SL gets posted on the ISO 639-3 website, that will bring me back here, and I'll take care of it then if there's still no objection. AlbertBickford (talk) 01:41, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
Or, if someone else wants to do it, that's fine with me. AlbertBickford (talk) 17:28, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
I did notice today that two of the "languages" listed in the "retired codes" section were given without codes--so it makes no sense to say that the codes were retired. I moved them to the earlier list at the head of the article. AlbertBickford (talk) 12:16, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
Kwami disagreed with this move; see section "Retired" codes that aren't specified" below AlbertBickford (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
I also went ahead and made the change from lower to upper case for the older SIL codes, and added some explanation.AlbertBickford (talk) ca. 12:30, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

THIS ISSUE IS RESOLVED AlbertBickford (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Yiddish Sign Language

Bernard Spolsky, Bar-Ilan University, has investigated the case of Yiddish Sign Language [yds], and has concluded that it never existed. His work has become the basis of a proposal to ISO 639-3 that he and I made to delete the language from the standard. When the ISO 639-3 registrar posts the proposal on its public-comment site, I will add that information to the main page. In the meantime, I have referenced Spolsky's work. In doing this, I realize there may be an appearance of lack of objectivity, since my name is on the proposal. However, I trust that I've handled things in a neutral fashion, and that existence of a proposal is sufficiently notable to be mentioned here. AlbertBickford (talk) 21:15, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Well, if any of those possible SLs mentioned in your blurb were attested, we could perhaps have an article on YSLs (plural), but w/o attestation there's no need for an ISO code or WP article, and the ISO code does appear to be spurious. There are probably hundreds of other unattested and now extinct SLs. — kwami (talk) 01:14, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, everybody I know who's looked at Spolsky's comments agrees with him. I fully expect the deletion proposal to be accepted. But, it won't be acted on until January 2015. In the meantime, the Ethnologue article on this language will soon be changed to say that this language is "unattested"; that change should appear at the end of February 2014. AlbertBickford (talk) 01:39, 7 February 2014 (UTC)


"Retired" codes that aren't specified

In the section on retired SIL and ISO codes, there are several languages mentioned under the subhead "Date Unknown". No SIL code is given for them. Wutana, according to its own article, was removed from Ethnologue a long time ago, perhaps before Ethnologue started using 3-letter codes. I don't have any easy way of tracking the others. The problem is that they are in a section that is titled "". If these languages don't have codes, or if we don't know what they are, then they don't fit in this section. I had moved them to the "Dubious languages" section, but Kwami felt they didn't belong there either and moved them back.

So, what to do? I see two options:

  • Retitle the whole section to something like "Unattested languages removed from Ethnologue and ISO 639-3" and rewrite the introductory paragraphs accordingly.
  • Remove these languages from the article entirely.

The first option would be more in the spirit of the article as a whole, which is about spurious languages, not spurious language codes.

The second option would also be legitimate, since the article doesn't claim to be a complete list of all languages removed from Ethnologue. I'm sure there are lots of "languages" that were removed from Ethnologue over the years, and missing out on a couple more is not great loss.

So, which option do people prefer? I don't have a strong preference. AlbertBickford (talk) 22:20, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

I removed them from the dubious section because they aren't dubious. Sure, we can reword, but it's likely they did have codes. SIL first published their codes in 1984, but the oldest list I've been able to track down is 1992, after a couple rounds of retirements. Actually, the languages had codes earlier than that, they just weren't published, so arguably they had SIL codes even before the 10th edition. — kwami (talk) 22:50, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
I might be able to find earlier editions of Ethnologue at a nearby SIL library. (I used to own the 1988 edition, but must have given it away.) I'll see if I can track down the codes--that would be better than either of the options I suggested above. AlbertBickford (talk) 22:56, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
I was able to get Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages/Primary language names in Ethnologue 12, but could never find the 11th. It would be nice to have support for it, though I suppose it's getting old enough that people will only rarely have any need of looking up the language names in it, even from sources which cite it. But yes, just those few codes would be useful. Wutana has its own article, while the PNG ones are listed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages/Language names in Ruhlen (1987). I've been making links of all languages listed in sources like that, and when they're spurious, directing them here, so we need at least a mention on this end to justify the link, and a link so we don't leave them unidentified. If it turns out those languages never were in the Ethnologue, we could create a section for spurious languages in other sources, though that would be an uncomfortable open-ended project. — kwami (talk) 00:15, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
OK, I understand why the names need to stay in here, somehow. Let's see what I can find tomorrow. If I can't locate them in older editions of Ethnologue, then we can revise the wording. AlbertBickford (talk) 01:43, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I found Wutana[WUW]; it only appeared in the 13th edition, so I moved it to the appropriate section. I only had copies available back to the 10th ed., though, and the four PNG river names aren't in that edition or later. What's the evidence that they ever appeared in Ethnologue? AlbertBickford (talk) 21:54, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
(I also retitled the subsections according to Ethnologue edition, rather than years, which I think is clearer.) AlbertBickford (talk) 21:54, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Might not have been in E. Not in Voegelin either. Perhaps just Ruhlen.— kwami (talk) 13:39, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

I moved the other part of Kwami's 27 Feb post to the "Generic names and splits" section, since it seemed to relate more to that. AlbertBickford (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

THIS ISSUE IS RESOLVED AlbertBickford (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Generic names and splits

One other issue I noticed is that some codes are listed because they represent several different languages and were subsequently retired when the individual languages were recognized. However, that seems like a different situation from a spurious language. There really is something that the old code referred to, but it just wasn't precise enough. Should these even be included in this article? Or should we handle them in a different section? AlbertBickford (talk) 21:54, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, no need for the other retired codes. — kwami (talk) 13:39, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
THIS ISSUE IS RESOLVED AlbertBickford (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2014 (UTC
Talk:Spurious languages sections
Intro   Yiddish Sign Language    \"Retired\" codes that aren't specified    Generic names and splits   

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Yiddish Sign Language