ISO 15924 "code"s and "ID"s

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu May 20 2004 - 10:59:58 CDT

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: ISO 15924 "code"s and "ID"s"

    Could someone please explain why the data tables for ISO 15924 list both
    "codes" and "ID"s? ("ID"s are not discussed in the text of the

    I find the inclusion of both under these labels somewhat less than
    ideal. The term "code" is not consistently used. Most people do use
    "code" to refer to a symbol (such as an alpha-4 string) that denotes
    some entity or category; and some standards also use the term in that
    way. But other standards use "code" to refer to a collection of such
    symbols. For instance, ISO 639-1 clearly treats "code" as the
    collection, and calls the individual entries "code elements"; the
    alpha-2 symbols in ISO 639-1 are "identifiers".

    Nowhere have I seen the symbols called "codes" when they weren't also
    called "identifiers". Until now. So, having learned to avoid the
    ambiguity of the word "code" and to always use "identifier" (or "ID")
    instead, now in the case of ISO 15924 that doesn't work since the "ID"
    is something different.

    (The "ID" appears to be a locale-independent reference name that is
    structured in a way that allows it to be used in higher-level identifier
    protocols, but in the context of ISO 15924, I would not call it the

    Peter Constable
    Globalization Infrastructure and Font Technologies
    Microsoft Windows Division

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