RE: Questions re ISO-639-1,2,3

From: Peter Constable (
Date: Thu Jul 14 2005 - 09:46:01 CDT

  • Next message: Peter Constable: "RE: Questions re ISO-639-1,2,3"

    > From: []
    > Behalf Of Donald Z. Osborn

    > I was surprised to find that some 2-letter ISO-639-1 language codes I
    > thought
    > were official are not in the list of codes. Specifically:
    > bm - Bambara
    > ff - Fula (Fulfulde/Pulaar)
    > ig - Igbo

    Where did you look? Wherever it was, it wasn't the right place, and is
    giving bad information.

    Several sites have published lists of ISO 639 language identifiers,
    rather than simply providing a link to the official site. While this is
    thought to be helpful, it is extremely unhelpful in that errors get
    introduced or the information gets out of date. Anyone that has done
    this is strongly advised to delete their private list and replace it
    with a pointer to the official site:

    > The next questions are what their status is if any (other than
    > I
    > guess), and whether it is worth putting those and possibly others
    > for
    > approval.

    All three are already valid ISO 639-1 identifiers for the languages
    you've indicated.

    > Or is ISO-639-1 now closed?

    No, it is not closed.

    > I'm aware of course of ISO-639-2 (3-letter codes) and ISO/DIS-639-3.
    Am I
    > correct in assuming that ISO-639-2 is intended to replace ISO-639-1?

    Part 2 was created in recognition that some applications require means
    to identify more languages than 2Alpha can support, and require less
    restrictive criteria for inclusion than are used in Part 1 (which was
    created with terminology applications in mind).

    > Also,
    > what
    > is the intended relationship between ISO-639-2 and ISO/DIS-639-3 (once
    > latter is adopted)?

    While Part 2 was intended to be more inclusive than Part 1, it was not
    intended to be comprehensive. (It was developed mainly with the needs of
    libraries in mind.) Part 3 is intended to be comprehensive. The
    relationship between the two is that they use a common 3Alpha identifier
    space, and all of the items in ISO 639-2/T that are not collections are
    also in ISO 639-3. A separate part (Part 5) which will have a complete
    set of 3Alpha IDs for collections is also being developed. When it is
    published, then parts 3 and 5 will cover the 3Alpha space, and Part 2
    will be a profile of that combined space suited to some applications.

    Peter Constable

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