Question on ISO-639:1988

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Jun 2 13:43:53 CEST 2004

Peter Constable scripsit:

> 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.

Let me see if I can summarize the new state of affairs:

639-3 provides 3-letter identifiers for languages.

639-5 provides non-overlapping 3-letter identifiers for collections of

639-2 provides a subset of the codes in 639-3 and 639-5 representing the
      "important" languages and collections.

639-1 provides a subset of the codes in 693-2 representing the "very
      important" languages (and collections?) and giving them 2-letter
      identifiers as well.

RFC 3066 successors should allow any 639-3 or 639-5 code except those
which have 639-1 equivalents.

All serene?

"While staying with the Asonu, I met a man from     John Cowan
the Candensian plane, which is very much like       jcowan at
ours, only more of it consists of Toronto."
        --the unnamed narrator of Le Guin's Changing Planes

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