What's the plan for ISO 639-3 and RFC 3066 ter?

Peter Constable petercon at microsoft.com
Fri Aug 20 07:14:34 CEST 2004

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at alvestrand.no] On Behalf Of John Cowan

> We are eventually going to have to decide what to do about ISO 639-3.
> Do we allow all 639-3 tags in the first place, or do we allow them
> only as extlangs?

I would hope that we would allow 639-3 IDs as the primary subtag, except
perhaps in cases in which a macrolanguage ID exists and we require the
macrolanguage ID as the primary tag and the specific lang ID as extlang.
(Note, though: there's nothing in the draft for 639-3 saying that a new
macrolang ID can't be added at any time.) 

Saying that 639-2 IDs can be used as the primary tag but 639-3 IDs can
only be used as extlang would present a couple of issues:

- As not every individual language is within the scope of some
macrolanguage, it would be necessary to use collection IDs for the
primary tag in many cases; these can be somewhat ad hoc, and as yet are
not well documented (an issue for 639-5).

- Many items in 639-3 are also in 639-2, and over time 639-2 may
incorporate items from 639-3. So, for instance, "mkh-bdq" might be
required one day but then the next "bdq" would become valid if "bdq" is
added to 639-2.

Peter Constable

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