[Taxacom] Language tags for scientific names

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 22:49:43 CDT 2008

> <p xml:lang="la">conidia singula, terminalia ... ex <span
> xml:lang="zxx-taxon">Rhododendron maximum</span> in Germania</p>
> <p xml:lang="de">Konidien einzeln, endständig, isoliert aus <span
> xml:lang="zxx-taxon">Rhododendron maximum</span> in Deutschland</p>

just to clarify, the purpose xml:lang="zxx" is to communicate "What
follows is not a language so do not apply translators or other
language processors to it.  You might be able to do other stuff but
don't try to translate it".

So, if we want to extract meaning from "what follows", another tool is
required.  In this case, that a horticulturist might be able to infer
that we are talking a about some sort of big flowered Ericaceae is a
byproduct based on prior knowledge and context and not a result of the
information construct.

If we were to use "zxx-taxon" for this purpose the message would seem
to to a potentially confusing "what follows is not a language but if
you were to treat it as language it is the sort of language you might
use to label a taxon".

RFC 4646 does not appear to say we are not allowed to do this sort of
thing.  But given that we are talking meaning rather than language, I
am not convinced that we should.


Jim Croft
jim.croft at gmail.com

"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in
order to enjoy ourselves."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (1889-1951)

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