Bubulle's weblog

19 01 2008

Sat, 19 Jan 2008

How many known human languages are there?

Tricky question, isn't it?

Indeed, according to the ISO 639-3 standard which finally became an official ISO standard in 2007, there are 7696 different languages, including extinct, ancient, historic, and constructed languages.

Of course, this may become a very debated discussion about what constitues a "language". Let's give the guidelines used by SIL International, who was designated by ISO as the official maintenance agency for ISo-639:

There is no one definition of "language" that is agreed upon by all and appropriate for all purposes. As a result, there can be disagreement, even among speakers or linguistic experts, as to whether two varieties represent dialects of a single language or two distinct languages. For this part of ISO 639, judgments regarding when two varieties are considered to be the same or different languages are based on a number of factors, including linguistic similarity, intelligibility, a common literature, the views of speakers concerning the relationship between language and identity, and other factors. The following basic criteria are followed:

So, we (iso-codes package maintainers) now have to update that part of our package and buy a big bunch of aspirin to people who will work on translating this.

Moreover, contrary to all other such standards (3166 for country names, old 639-2 for languages, 15924 for language script names), there is no bloody official *French* version, so even the French translator has to work. Gues who this was until now? :-)

To end this blog entry, let's ask a funny question to the readers (no, comments not allowed on my blog, I'm lazy, so answers by mail or in your blogs): what is the country in the world which as the highest number of languages listed in ISO 639-3?

posted at: 14:34 | path: /bubulle/planet-debian | permanent link to this entry

[sports] Streif

Mausefalle, Karusellkurve, Steilhang, Brückenschuss, Alte Schneise, Seildamsprung, Lächenschuss, Oberhausberg, Hausbergkante, Zielschuss (ach mein Gott!) and the terrible Zielsprung.

After last week's Lauberhorn downhill, today was Hahnenkamm's downhill race in Kitzbühel (Austria). Even though I slightly prefer the Wengen race, Die Streif is one of the scariest racest of the Ski World Cup.

Great spectacle today again, however saddenned by Scott Mc Carthy's terrible accident on the Zielsprung. We don't have news yet but I cross fingers for him.

Today, Didier Cuche won the race wonderfully, just before lastweek's winner, the tireless Bode Miller.

Again another great ski week-end, really.

posted at: 14:34 | path: /bubulle/planet-debian | permanent link to this entry

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