Questions on ISO 639-3.

Kent Karlsson kent.karlsson14 at
Sat Nov 22 10:54:39 CET 2008

Den 2008-11-22 04.53, skrev "Peter Constable" <petercon at>:

>>> 1. Is there an oversight with Akan?
>>> shows Akan as a Macrolanguage, but has a Denotation that points to the
>>> Ethnologue, where it is treated as if it were an individual language.
>> From what I understand, Ethnologue is updated in much slower cycles than
>> ISO 639-3, which is updated annually, so such discrepancies are to be
>> expected.
> That is not the issue in this case, however. This is the result of
> pre-existing entries in 639-1/-2 that treated Akan, Fanti and Twi as distinct,
> individual languages, whereas Ethnologue (and presumably most
> linguistic/sociolinguistic analyses) consider these to be either alternate
> names or dialect names of a single language.
> The best path for me in preparing 639-3 was to posit a macrolanguage that
> encompassed those three, and the particular option that seemed to make best
> sense was to treat Akan as the encompassing category with the other two
> encompassed.
> (A purist solution, linguistically, would have been to deem Akan as an
> individual language and deem the others as dialects, hence out of scope and
> worthy of deprecation. That seemed a bit drastic, however.)

Given the recent history with Moldavian in ISO 639, doing what you suggest
here does not seem to be too drastic.

        /kent k

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