Tags for Languages

Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at webmethods.com
Mon Nov 17 23:37:23 CET 2003

Dear Håvard,

Thanks for your comments. I've tried to address some of them below,
inter-linear with your remarks.

Best Regards,


Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods | Delivering Global Business Visibility
Chair, W3C Internationalization (I18N) Working Group
Chair, W3C-I18N-WG, Web Services Task Force

Internationalization is an architecture.
It is not a feature.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no
> [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no]On Behalf Of Håvard
> Hjulstad
> Sent: Monday, November 17, 2003 12:35 PM
> To: IETF-languages list
> Subject: Tags for Languages
> Just a few comments (or corrections) to the document
> "draft-langtag-phillips-davis-00.txt":
> ISO 639-1:2002 (published 2002-07-15) replaced ISO 639:1988, which is no
> longer a valid International Standard. Apart from the three changes to
> ISO639:1988 that were registered in 1989, ISO 639:1988 is a subset of ISO
> 639-1:2002. The reference to ISO 639:1988 needs to be changed (in clause 8
> and some other places).

Thanks to the tip. The text in the draft was taken originally from the
current text of RFC3066, and we didn't update the references that were
already there. That accounts for the versioning problem. I'll correct that
in the next draft (not -01, which is already submitted).
> In clause 2.2 the reference to ISO 639 needs to be changed. Also the
> statement that "ISO639 reserves for private use ... 'qaa' through 'qtz'"
> should refer to ISO 639-2.

> Clause 2.2.2, first paragraph: I don't quite understand the meaning of
> "there should be a good faith attempt to register the language with ISO
> 639". Anyone is free to submit requests to have a language registered, but
> no "attempt to register" a language is possible... There is a request form
> on the ISO 639 web site
> (http://lcweb.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/iso639jac.html). All requests are
> considered. But admittedly, there may be requests that are rejected (for
> different reasons).

The point here is that the resulting registry described by this
Internet-Draft will have a policy not to register top-level language tags
unless they have already been turned down by ISO639 or would clearly be
inappropriate for ISO639 to register. There are many tags that have been
registered in the past with IANA under the auspices of RFC1766 or RFC3066
where were later deprecated because ISO639 registered an equivalent code. In
other words: the IANA registry is not a substitute for ISO639. The fact that
the IANA registry is faster than ISO639 does not make it a better choice for
top level tag registration.

> The address of the ISO 639-1 RA is: Infoterm, Aichholzgasse 6/12, AT-1120
> Vienna.
> The ISO 3166 MA is no longer DIN in Berlin, but ISO Central Secretariat.

All these notes are great information. I'll update the next draft
> Clause 2.3, item 3: There will be no additional differences between the T
> table and the B table in ISO 639-2. Since all the differences relate to
> languages that do have alpha-2 identifiers in ISO 639-1, item 3 is not
> needed at all.

Is there a formal policy that is part of ISO639 that says this that I can
reference? I could change the text to say something like "Under current ISO
policy, this situation will never arise."
> Best regards,
> Håvard Hjulstad
> -------------------------
> Håvard Hjulstad    mailto:havard at hjulstad.com
> Chairman ISO/TC37 (Terminology and other language resources)
> Convener of ISO/TC37/SC2/WG1 (Language coding)
> Acting chairman of ISO 639 RA-JAC
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