ISO language codes versus country codes

Sean M. Burke
Thu, 16 May 2002 22:32:56 -0600

At 11:00 2002-05-16 +0200, =?us-ascii?Q?Havard_Hjulstad?= wrote:
>There are many historical reasons and constraints that have lead to
>differences between ISO 639 (language identifiers) and ISO 3166 (country
>identifiers). During the first stage of the revision of ISO 639:1988 it was
>investigated whether it would be feasible to coordinate the new version with
>ISO 3166. Although there were advantages, the disadvantages and problems for
>all ISO 639 users were deemed to clearly outweigh the advantages.

Yes, merging them after the fact is a bad idea.  But what I'm asking is: 
how did the differences bteween 3611 and 639 come about in the first place?

Whichever standard came about first, as the later standard was being 
created, did it occur to anyone "Let's copy those earlier codes into this 
newer set we're working on, so that there's not a pointless difference 
between the Japanese country code and the Japanese language code, and so on"?

Sean M. Burke