Hello Everyone,

What was originally an innocent question about formatting dates for my
`\maketitle` has exploded into something much more involved. I quickly
realized that locales are far too complex to simply manage with a gaggle of
templates. Indeed, a proper database is necessary.

Here are some thoughts on the matter. I apologize in advance because most of
these things have certainly been discussed already.

A hypothetical L3 locale database could provide for things that are
handled by packages like `babel` or `polyglossia`: directionality,
quotations, special punctuation spacing, &c. It could also provide locale-
specific date and time formatting, as well as sorting rules.

The Unicode Common Locale Data Repository provides most of the information
would be needed. It is formatted in XML, so it would need to be processed
a form that TeX can easily read.

A means by which packages could extend the database would be useful. For
example, a chemistry package could provide the command
  `\elemname {<elemental symbol>}`
such that `\elemname{C}` would return “Carbon”, “Kohlenstoff”, “Carbone”,
depending on the current locale.

This leads to the question of input format at the author level. While the
database would contain the information necessary to read dates &c. in
specific formats (and this would be very useful for, say, reading a CSV
file) I think that the normal author input syntax should be a standard form
(e.g., ISO 8601 for dates and times). I feel that this would keep in line
the philosophy of keeping the author interface simple and uniform and
LaTeX handle the formatting.

These are just my own thoughts and I apologize if I’m being overzealous or
too forward. However, I would certainly be happy to contribute in this
area, if
I can be of use.