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

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Thu Jul 14 2005 - 09:34:15 CDT

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

    Donald Z. Osborn <dzo at bisharat dot net> wrote:

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

    All of these are valid ISO 639-1 code elements.

    The official code lists are at Try to go to the
    source if at all possible. There are many unofficial lists floating
    around on the Internet, but many are out of date or otherwise incorrect.

    > The first two I recall communicating with Indrek Hein about in 2000,
    > and assumed they were already adopted. The one for Igbo I found on in
    > a Wikipedia article.
    > The next questions are what their status is if any (other than
    > imaginary, I guess), and whether it is worth putting those and
    > possibly others forth for approval. Or is ISO-639-1 now closed?

    ISO 639-1 is not completely closed, but only a language newly added to
    ISO 639-2 can receive an ISO 639-1 code. In other words, no language
    that currently has a 3-letter code but no 2-letter code will get one,
    and no newly added language will get a 2-letter code unless it also gets
    a 3-letter code.

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

    Each of these parts has a different scope. In particular, with the
    widespread use of ISO 639-1 (as ccTLDs, for example) there is no chance
    that ISO 639-2 will ever "replace" it. The parts complement each other.

    Doug Ewell
    Fullerton, California

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