Re: Web browsers and the new language code for Hebrew

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Mon Feb 10 1997 - 12:18:01 EST

Given the inane policy of changing codes, I think the only practical
approach is to always treat both the new and the old codes as
equivalent. That may mean duplicating resources.


unicode@Unicode.ORG wrote:
> We have a problem with the language codes recognised by Web browsers.
> The standard mostly widely used in the Internet to specify language codes
> is ISO 639 - "Codes for the representation of names of languages" (see RFC
> 1766 and RFC 2070).
> Some years ago, the ISO 639 Maintenance Agency amended the standard, adding
> three new language codes:
> Inuktitut iu
> Uigur ug
> Zhuang za
> and modifying three existing language codes:
> New code Old code
> Hebrew he iw
> Indonesian id in
> Yiddish yi ji
> The problems caused by the modification of existing codes have been
> discussed previously, as have the pros and cons of the ISO 639 standard and
> of the various competing standards and schemes. I don't want to waken those
> particular dragons.
> What I want to raise is a very particular problem: Two of the browsers that
> handle Hebrew (maybe this should read "The two browsers that handle
> Hebrew"), recognise the old language code ("iw") but not the new one ("he").
> This is very worrying. I hope the vendors will speedily enhance their
> products to recognise both the old and new codes.
> This leaves us with a very specific problem in regard to the IUC10 Web pages
> at <>. Should we use the old code for
> Hebrew, so that the browsers recognise it and display it, or the new one so
> as to encourage the vendors to fix their browsers, with the disadvantage
> that the text won't display correctly? We have deferred publishing the
> Hebrew, Arabic and Yiddish texts until we know how to resolve this (and some
> other problems).
> Misha

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