Question on ISO-639:1988

Peter Constable petercon at
Wed Jun 2 08:32:26 CEST 2004

> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Harald Tveit Alvestrand

> > It is my opinion that most people will use 639-1 (alpha2) or 639-3
> > (alpha3) but that should not mean we do not cater for those that
> > 639-6 (alpha4) level of langtags (as the XML community obviously
> objection: at this point in time, references to the "XML community"
are as
> meaningful at this point as references to the "screwdriver-using
> community".

The "XML community" is indeed very vague, and the *only* gauge for
measuring what that "community" needs wrt language tagging is what is
built into XML; and that is quite explicit: RFC 3066.

> I may be wearing my old curmudgeon hat, but I remain extremely
> of
> the sudden gush of new 639 parts - what used to be a pinhole has
> turned into a floodgate. I do not understand how it impacts the
> of users's software - and that worries me.

A very reasonable concern. Of the approved work items for new parts to
ISO 639 (parts 3, 4 and 5), the one that has the most likelihood of
impact for most people is part 3. Part 4 will be a framework document --
what should have been part 1, and the main role it will play will likely
be to keep the other parts coherent. Part 5, which will expand on the
collective IDs in part 2, will be useful mainly to niche audiences
(there's not a lot of use in many contexts for collections; e.g. it
doesn't make sense to talk about an Indo-European spelling checker, or
the Indo-European translation of a web site). I think only part 3 will
have particular significance for RFC 3066 successors.

Peter Constable

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