Region subtags under 3066 and 3066bis (long)

JFC (Jefsey) Morfin jefsey at
Sat Feb 19 22:17:19 CET 2005

very interesting comments. This becomes near of our concerns.

At 19:33 19/02/2005, Doug Ewell wrote:
>I apologize in advance for the length of this post (13 KB).
>Frank Ellermann <nobody at xyzzy dot claranet dot de> wrote:
> > Okay, I found 830 on the page:
> > <>
> >
> > You probably copy all these codes to your registry, and if the
> > UN later removes a code it's still available in the registry.
>Not exactly.  The rules for using a UN numeric code are clearly stated
>in the draft.
>There are 231 UN codes that represent countries, plus another 37 that
>represent regions like "Northern Africa" or economic groupings like
>"Small island developing States," plus another 10 that have been removed
>from use.

There is also the CIA list which is of interest.

 > Maybe add a comment in your list, that alpha-3 codes are only
> > listed if there was no alpha-2 code when this registry "was"
> > (= will be) started.  And therefore I won't find "glv".
>Again, the draft is very clear on this point.  If an alpha-2 code is
>available for a given language, only that code is valid for language
>tags, and *not* the corresponding alpha-3 code.  Thus neither "fra" nor
>"deu" (nor "fre" nor "ger") is valid for use in language tags.  This
>concept was actually introduced with RFC 3066, back in 2001.

2001 is not that old. Still time to correct a contextual limited view. At 
that time there were not 7260 languages considered. The 2-alpha codes 
should continue to be supported but to be deprecated in the long range.

>I don't have a copy of ISO 3166-3; it costs 70 Swiss francs, which is
>roughly 45 euros or 59 U.S. dollars.  I got my historical data from
>Clive Feather's page at  It
>isn't official, but I generally think of Clive's work as being
>thoroughly researched, so I doubt he made up any of the codes or got any
>of the dates badly wrong.  I welcome any corrections from anyone who has
>a "real" copy of ISO 3166-3.

I built one I killed by mistake. I try to rebuild it but do not find back 
the site I used (it was a ISO 3166 based menu, with all the areas 
documented). There are a very few in google. But the pages of those I found 
are complex to quickly filter. If anyone knows such a menu. The USG sites 
and large NGO? I think the one I found was with ecology, but simpler than 
the one I find back.

But the UN location is as much important. A good list would be an 
aggregation of both. The geography and people do not change because the 
flag changes. We are interested in networking people: ISO should be an help 
not a Bible. A grassroots process may also help ISO.

It's important that we have explicit rules to determine what codes are
>used, and why, rather than just picking whatever strikes our fancy.

IMHO it should be related to the soil, then to the blood, then to the flag. 
Because we do not consider Representative from ISO Member States but 
individual users. We are not classing people, we are trying to provide them 
a reference grid they can use to pin their own cultural and linguistic context.

 >> the IETF is not in the business of deciding what is a
> >> country.
> >
> > Sure, but FK is a valid ccTLD and a valid 3166 country
> > code, and unlike BQ / FQ / NQ there's also a population.
> > The UN region number is 238.
>FK is also a valid ISO 3166-1 country code, and is therefore a valid
>region subtag under RFC 3066bis (and 3066 and 1766).  I don't see the
>controversy here.

Frank confused the point: it was not clear for someone not being involved 
in the political aspects as I thought he was. He said removed FQ had no 
problem to be included in TF, which is a controversial political issue with 
Argentina. The point was should FK be removed, where would he put the 
former FK.

>ISO 3166 codes are used, as they have been for 10 years now, because
>they identify countries and country-like entities as defined by an
>international organization more qualified to do so than you or I.

They are used as alpha-3 since 1977 and stabilized in Oct 1978 at the 
proposition of Mike Rude. They are used as alpha-2 to identify traffic 
refilers (Telex operators, Internet foreign communities) at my request and 
upon approval of Jack McDonnell since early 1982. They have been pasted in 
the parameter file of the ARPA Internet gateway with the international 
public networks in early 1984. They have been described by Jon Postel in 
October 1984 in RFC 920 which describes our consensual MoU and is the way 
the Legacy works (well) since then. ICANN claims legitimacy from this RFC. 
As being directly involved in this I can clarify the problem you face in 
here: RFC 3166 alpha-2/3 was used not because it identified countries as 
you are trying to do in here, but because it identified State Monopoly 
Operators and legal monopoly enforcement rules and policies we had to deal 
with within the ITU framework.

>  The
>ccTLD mechanism has chosen to encode some additional things, like AC and
>GG and JE, and that is up to them.  It has also chosen to use UK for
>United Kingdom instead of GB, and that has actually added to the
>confusion because now there are TWO current codes for the same entity
>(at least in some people's minds).

This was our decision to respect the legal British entity (BPO, now BT and 
our own Tymnet UK operations). The use of "UK" was by Robert Tréhin (father 
of the root) in 1977 as the first international datacoms interconnect 
agreement (France was first but as an access rather than as an interconnect 
and asked for FRA. We stabilized national networks root names on alpha-3 as 
I told above).

IMHO you identified well the problem which is to keep the reference to 
States in dealing with territories. States should qualify the language tag. 
Not be part of it. Or to have both political and societal tags in parallel.

The whole problem is first a problem of tag semantic, inheritance and of 
synonyms. In most of the cases the considered tags identify the same 
reality. With a good semantic you would not mind describing the same 
reality from different point of view. Being locked in historic legacy 
aspect does not scale.


More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list