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

Doug Ewell dewell at
Tue Dec 28 07:45:10 CET 2004

JFC (Jefsey) Morfin <jefsey at jefsey dot com> wrote:

> I do not think this is a problem is anyway. When the application uses
> mixed 2 and 3 letters codes this does not prevent formated
> presentations to use 2 letters and a space of a "*".

Is that why you want language subtags to be of uniform length?  To
assist with "formatted presentations"?

> When ISO 639-2 is in full operation you will not prevent new
> applications to use 3 letters codes. May be related to 3 digits ISO
> geographical codes for stability?

1.  ISO 639-2 is in full operation.

2.  The rules in both RFC 3066 and RFC 3066bis are clear and
unambiguous: an ISO 639-1 (alpha-2) code is used if one exists; an ISO
639-2 (alpha-3) code is used otherwise.

3.  None of this has anything to do with 3-digit UN M.49 (not ISO)
geographic codes.

>> 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.
> Yes. This is what I documented in another mail. But this means that
> a glyph semantic to discover to represent 7250 langages in 300
> geographical area in one to three (four?) scripts.

Do we really have to say this again?  NO language tagging standard
allows the use of the seven-thousand-plus ISO DIS 639-3 codes.  RFC
3066bis won't either, until it is revised.

If you need to develop icons to represent 477 languages (with or without
296 possible region qualifiers or 101 possible script qualifiers), you
have a lot of work ahead of you.  Good luck.

> Does someone know where to find a free copy of ISO 7000 (the
> initial part and some icons ?).

ISO is charging a hefty price for this.  You will be lucky indeed to
find a free copy.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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