New Last Call: 'Tags for Identifying Languages' to BCP

Doug Ewell dewell at
Tue Dec 14 18:13:04 CET 2004

Deborah Goldsmith <goldsmit at apple dot com> wrote:

>> UNSD historically has assigned new numerical codes when new
>> "countries" come into existence, and has managed to avoid reusing any
>> of its 3-digit identifiers
> And here's hoping they go to four digits or otherwise extend the
> scheme instead of recycling when they run out, a non-hypothetical
> issue if they're already up to 891.

The UN codes are not assigned sequentially.  They try to maintain
alphabetical order, and most codes were originally assigned in
increments of 4 (004, 008, 012...) so there would be room to insert
other codes to maintain alpha order.

Obviously there are many cases where alpha order is already compromised,
but they are still a long way from having to assign 1000 discrete codes
for past and present countries.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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