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

Peter Constable petercon at
Mon Dec 27 20:04:38 CET 2004

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of JFC (Jefsey) Morfin

> I apologize for the confusion. I meant ISO 639-1 (not 2). I fully
> understand
> and accept the legacy of the former RFCs and usages. But defaulting to
> to ISO 639-1 is in IMHO a complex and unstable thing as it introduces
> IETF dated decision about an ISO list. Also, visually two letters with
> important overlap on ISO 3166-2 is to exciting.

I agree it would be better if we didn't use alpha-2 lanuage IDs from ISO
639-1. Unfortunately, that horse left the barn a long time ago. It is
far too late to change the widespread use of alpha-2 language IDs from
ISO 639-1 in Internet and other applications, and attempting to make
that change would create much more instability than the mixture of ISO
639-1 and ISO 639-2 has caused.

> Please understand I am a users side rep. My points are for users
> and easier usage.

Language tags as defined by RFC 1766/3066/successors are meant to be
used in implementations, but are not intended to be exposed to users.
The best way to make things simple and free of confusion for a user is
to present human-readable labels/descriptions in the user's language.

Peter Constable

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