Re: New Locale Proposal

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Mon Sep 18 2000 - 23:33:48 EDT

Marion Gunn <> wrote:

>> From what I have heard, ISO 639/MA will not be issuing any new 639-1
>> (two-letter) codes for languages that already have a 639-2 (three-
>> letter) code. So this re-tagging scenario should not occur and
>> Carl's solution, which is the same as that proposed in RFC 1766 bis,
>> should work fine.
> The opposite it true, Doug. ISO 639 will ONLY issue new 639-1
> (two-letter) codes for languages that already have a 639-2 (three-
> letter) code. That means, in effect, that the ISO 639-1/MA (AT
> InfoTerm) has its hands tied: it can no longer register any new
> lanugage tag identifiers for languages not already approved by the
> ISO 639-2/MA (US Library of Congress).

I got my understanding from the following passage (cleaned up
editorially) in draft-alvestrand-lang-tag-v2-03.txt, informally known
as RFC 1766 bis:

> NOTE: In order to avoid versioning difficulties in applications such
> as that of RFC 1766, the ISO 639 RA-JAC has agreed on the following
> policy statement:
> "After the publication of ISO/DIS 639-1 as an International Standard,
> no new 2-letter code shall be added to ISO 639-1 unless a 3-letter
> code is also added at the same time to ISO 639-2. In addition, no
> language with a 3-letter code available at the time of publication
> of ISO 639-1 which at that time had no 2-letter code shall be
> subsequently given a 2-letter code."
> This will ensure that, for example, a user who implements "haw"
> (Hawai'ian), which currently has no 2-letter code, will not find his
> or her data invalidated by eventual addition of a 2-letter code for
> that language.

If RFC 1766 bis has it right, then I stand by my interpretation.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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