Saturday, June 03, 2006

The case of Mandarin

This is not about the difference between Mandarin or mandarin. Written standardized Mandarin exists in at least two variants they are cmn-Hans and cmn Hant or in human terms traditional and simplified Mandarin. For WiktionaryZ this distinction is crucial because an Expression needs to identified as being one or the other.

For me it becomes more complicated when I find this 普通话/國語/华语 as how to identify Mandarin, I would have 普通话 and 國語 and 华语. This article on the English Wikipedia helps a bit; 普通话 is simplified, 國語 is traditonal script and 华语 is how "standard Mandarin" is called in Malaysia and Singapore (in simplified script, 華語 being the traditional variation). This was "easy" right?

According to this article, Mandarin is linguistically speaking a group of Northern Chinese dialects. The cmn code is associated with this group. This leaves me with a headache. I do not want to use zh or zho for Chinese because that is too broad as it includes languages like Wu and Min-Nan. I can use cmn for standard Mandarin and have additional suffixes to indicate both a specific dialect and its script.

Doing so means that I give the official version of a language the official tag. The problem is that I do not understand the implications when this is made a WiktionaryZ policy.



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