ISO 639-3 language variants for French

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Wed Aug 24 2005 - 11:40:56 CDT

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    I see that ISO 639-3 lists the following variants for French:

    * Standard (modern) French
    [fra;fra;fr;I;L] French

    * Historical variants of standard French [fra] (there's no clear
    [frm;frm;;I;H] French, Middle (ca.1400-1600)
    [fro;fro;;I;H] French, Old (842-Ca.1400)

    * Variants of standard French in French overseas where standard French is
    also official:
    [gcf;;;I;L] Guadeloupean Creole French
    [gcr;;;I;L] Guianese Creole French
    [rcf;;;I;L] Réunion Creole French
    Isn't there also a variant for Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon (near from the
    Canadian variant)?
    But where is then the Martinican Creole French, is it considered the same as
    What about the creole variants spoken in Mayotte (and the Comores)?
    What about the creole variant spoken in Madagascar (a past French colony)?

    * Does this refer to the creole created by mixing modern French into
    Occitan, or is it considered instead a variant of Occitan (post 1500)
    [frp;;;I;L] Franco-Provençal

    * Modern variants with long separate histories in North America:
    [frc;;;I;L] French, Cajun (this should be the variant spoken in North and
    Mid-West of US, or in the Maine)
    [lou;;;I;L] Louisiana Creole French (this should be the the variant spoken
    in Southern US, but most Canadians sites think that this southern French is
    "Cajun", and give the name "Acadian" to the Northern variant)
    But where is the standard Canadian variant (spoken in Quebec and Ontario)? I
    don't think it can be named "Cajun" [frc].
    Shouldn't the Saint-Pierre variant be listed near Canadian French?

    * Exotic creoles that I did not know:
    [acf;;;I;L] Saint Lucian Creole French
    [crs;;;I;L] Seselwa Creole French
    [kmv;;;I;L] Karipúna Creole French
    [scf;;;I;L] San Miguel Creole French

    But then, there are other unencoded creoles or variants of French, in past
    French colonies, for example in Vanuatu, the former New Hebrides that became
    independant in 1977 if I remember well).
    And more interesting are those variants (that are difficult to understand by
    French natives):
    - in Vietnam
    - in India (Pondichery)
    - in Russia (there's a small but living community of French-speaking people
    coming there at various epochs, the last ones being just after WW2, invited
    by the Communist Party, before they were rapidly deported by Staline, and
    the new French-speaking community of Russian exiled people that fled the
    Russian revolution and that came back to Russia since the end of USSR, and
    which is developing its own creole as well)
    - and of course the many creoles in Africa!

    Hmmm... Classification of languages is definitely a difficult task. It can
    be refined, but then there's the need to create more "collective" language
    codes, and augment the meta-data currently defined in ISO 639-3 (so that the
    database will contain groups and subgroups as well (possibly in relation
    with ISO 639-1/2 groups, or better using the Ethnologue classification of

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