Script codes in RFC 3066

John Clews Scripts2 at
Tue Apr 8 15:28:14 CEST 2003

In message <20030407152131.GC15421 at> John Cowan writes:

> Since I am someone who works best when staring at syntactic schemas and
> actual examples, I would like to propose the following trial balloon
> for RFC 3066bis, specifically the kinds of codes that would be available
> without IANA registration.

As a member of the ISO/TC37/SC2 Language Codes Task Force charged
with finding ways of extending the current limited provisions in
the existing parts of ISO 639, I have to say that I find several of
the ideas here quite attractive.

What's nice is the same sort of simplicity and modularity that exists
in RFC 3066.

I may have comments later on about the syntax of how this might work,
and what elements might or might not be included, though I expect
others may have too.

I think any such scheme will need to take account of other things

(a) current developments (not yet widely documented) about ISO 639-3,
    which is intended to allow dramatic expansion of ISO 639 to allow
    (in many cases, in effect) SIL/Ethnologue codes to be used as if
    they were ISO 639-2 codes, in the same tag position, without the
    need to suffix SIL/Ethnologue tags separately. Obviously that has
    to included dealing with existing clashes where
     - the SIL identifier and ISO identifier have different meanings,
     - one language has different identifiers in ISO and SIL.

(b) the fact that the above will cope with the limitations of some
    users of (in particular) bibliographic information systems, and
    record formats, that can ONLY handle 3-letter identifiers, for
    reasons of system design and backwards compatibility.

(c) As records from these systems are increasingly found on the web
    in various forms, it will also be necessary to map "heritage"
    identifiers from these systems onto whatever expansion takes over
    (whether this be a an expansion like a ISO 639-3 or a RFC

(d) there will have to be things built in (or referenced elsewhere)
    about language denotation (what a code means) though the
    reference to SIL/Ethnologue codes does in fact do that to a great

I'm sure that it will be possible to develop a schema that takes into
account these issues too.

I'm happy to collaborate on this.

Best regards

John Clews

John Clews,
Keytempo Limited (Information Management),
8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG
Tel:    +44 1423 888 432
mobile: +44 7766 711 395
Email:  Scripts2 at

Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG20: Internationalization;
Committee Member of ISO/TC37/SC2/WG1: Language Codes

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