Question on ISO-639:1988

Mark Davis mark.davis at
Fri May 21 16:36:11 CEST 2004

Messagexml:lang uses RFC 3066, which specifies that the codes are to be compared case-insensitively; and Java locale codes which use the ISO codes are also compared case-insensitively. While I would recommend for consistency that you follow Håvard Hjulstad's advice when entering codes, you will avoid a great many possible points of failure in your code if you never compare the ISO language, country, or currency codes with a case-sensitive comparison operation. (The same goes for Olson timezone IDs, if you use those).

► शिष्यादिच्छेत्पराजयम् ◄
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Håvard Hjulstad 
  To: 'Anthony Hoang' ; ietf-languages at 
  Sent: Fri, 2004 May 21 07:08
  Subject: RE: Question on ISO-639:1988

  Dear Anthony Hoang,

  First of all: ISO 639:1988 has been replaced by iso 639-1:2002. The code list is being continuously updated. Please see for the most current code list. Please also note that the alpha-2 list in ISO 639-1 and the alpha-3 list in ISO 639-2 are developed in parallel.

  ISO 639 (both parts) specify lower case language identifiers. This choice was made to avoid confusion with ISO 3166 (country code). From the point of view of ISO 639 an implementation of lower case only would be preferred.

  Best regards,
  Håvard Hjulstad
  Håvard Hjulstad    mailto:havard at
  all outgoing mail is scanned using Norton AntiVirus 

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Anthony Hoang [mailto:ahoang at] 
    Sent: 21. mai 2004 15:34
    To: havard at; ietf-languages at
    Subject: Question on ISO-639:1988

    Håvard Hjulstad (ISO 639 Project Leader), 

    I'm working with EAN.UCC, a standards community for the global Retail & Consumer Manufacturing industry.  In our XML messaging standards, we have specified ISO-639:1988 as the official code list for specifying language.  I see that your publication of the language codes specify 2 lowercase alpha characters.

    As a B2B trading community, should we be enforcing that only lower case characters be used?  Have you faced issues where a community implements both lowercase and uppercase characters?  In the case that both lowercase and uppercase are used, is there a preferred best practice between the two?

    Thanks in advance for your help, 

    Anthony Hoang 
    Functional Architect, WorldWide Item Management 

    WorldWide Retail Exchange 
    625 North Washington Street 
    Alexandria, VA 22314 
    [main: 703.234.5100] 
    [fax: 703.234.5200] 
    [direct: 703.234.5151] 
    [email: ahoang at] 
    [aol im: AnthonyWWRE] 



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