Alpha-4 language codes

Lee Gillam l.gillam at
Wed Jun 30 15:30:06 CEST 2004


I don't think you've understood what John Cowan clearly has: the
tag is an entry point to the referential system. Elsewhere, you seem
to "APPROVE and APPLAUD" a single pattern, and putting script aside
for the minute, a single pattern for "country variations of a language".
You then dismiss it here. Something of a cake conundrum?

The 4-letter tag would be used in tagging, that is its purpose.

> What does ISO 639 and its users gain from a four letter code?
> It won't be used in tagging, which is clear from below.
> What would an alpha-4 language code be used for?
> And why is it necessary to be in an international standard?
> I've still received no satisfactory answer on this point.
> I've no objection to the Linguasphere referential codes, which are a very
> useful self-contained system.
> I've just been querying the role of an alpha-4 language code.
> John Clews
> ---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
> >Subject: Re: [YES] The Linguasphere proposal is suited to RFC 3066
> >(oritssuccessors) and its consuming protocols
> >From:    "John Cowan" <cowan at>
> >Date:    Tue, June 22, 2004 3:04 pm
> >To:      "John Clews" <scripts20 at>
> >Cc:      ietf-languages at
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> John Clews scripsit:
> > Debbie Garside wrote (and her text is included in "quotes" as blow:
> >
> > "The LS 639 referential scale would not be used for tagging data."
> >
> > 1. Why then are we discussing LS 639 in this forum?
> >
> > The ietf-languages at list, and indeed RFC 3066 and its
> predecessors (and successors) are only for tagging data.
> Note the word "referential".  The referential codes are used to
> show the relations of languages, and are distinct from the 4-alpha codes
> used to tag languages.  Only the latter are proposed for ISO 639.
> -- 
> John Cowan  cowan at

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