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Petter Reinholdtsen: Notes on language codes for Norwegian docbook processing…

Posted: August 10, 2012 / in: Linux / Comments Off

In docbook one can specify
the language used at the top, and the processing pipeline will use
this information to pick the correct translations for ‘chapter’, ‘see
also’, ‘index’ etc. And for most languages used with docbook, I guess
this work just fine. For example a German user can start the document
with <book lang=”de”>, and the document will show up with the
correct content with any of the docbook processors. This is not the
case for the language
am working with at the moment
, Norwegian Bokmål.

For a while, I was confused about which language code to use,
because I was unable to find any language code that would work across
all tools. I am currently testing dblatex, xmlto, docbook-xsl, and
dbtoepub, and they do not handle Norwegian Bokmål the same way. Some
of them do not handle it at all.

A bit of background information is probably needed to understand
this mess. Norwegian is not one, but two written variants. The
variants are Norwegian Nynorsk and Norwegian Bokmål. There are three
two letter language codes associated with these languages, Norwegian
is ‘no’, Norwegian Nynorsk is ‘nn’ and Norwegian Bokmål is ‘nb’.
Historically the ‘no’ language code was used for Norwegian Bokmål, but
many years ago this was found to be å bad idea, and the recommendation
is to use the most specific language code instead, to avoid confusion.
In the transition period it is a good idea to make sure ‘no’ was an
alias for ‘nb’.

Back to docbook processing tools in Debian. The dblatex tool only
understand ‘nn’. There are translations for ‘no’, but not ‘nb’ (BTS
#684391), but due to a bug
(BTS #682936) the ‘no’
language code is not recognised. The docbook-xsl tool chain only
recognise ‘nn’ and ‘nb’, but not ‘no’. The xmlto tool only recognise
‘nn’ and ‘nb’, but not ‘no’. The end result that there is no language
code I can use to get the docbook file working with all of these tools
at the same time. :(

The correct solution is to use <book lang=”nb”>, but it will
take time before that will work with all the free software docbook
processors. :(

Oh, the joy of well integrated tools. :/

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