RFC3066 bis: use of ISO 639-1

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Sat Dec 6 03:14:06 CET 2003

Mark Davis scripsit:

> That's a good idea, and would render it even more stable in the face of
> 'potential' mistakes by the other organization. The question is when
> we should do the same for the country codes, for which there is not
> even a publicly available list.

For that and other reasons, I suggest that the 3-letter alphas of ISO
3166 not be used as fallbacks.  Instead, the 3-digit codes (which have
no current meaning in 3066bis) ought to be used, for two reasons:

1) They are assigned not by the RA but by the UN Statistics Division,
which has an extremely healthy respect for the importance of stability.
For example, Serbia and Montenegro is assigned code 891, which was the
code assigned to the two-nation flavor of Yugoslavia; the six-nation
flavor was coded 890, which is now disused.

2) They are nonoverlapping with other 3-digit codes, also assigned by
UNSD, which represent the supranational regions of the Earth.  These
may be just the ticket some day.

Their chief disadvantage is their lack of transparency, but it is only
a fallback.

John Cowan  www.ccil.org/~cowan  www.reutershealth.com  jcowan at reutershealth.com
All "isms" should be "wasms".   --Abbie

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