New item in ISO 639-2 - Zaza

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Aug 24 21:17:39 CEST 2006

Caoimhin O Donnaile scripsit:

> What appeals to me is most is #1 - and addressing the stability problem 
> of macrolanguage inclusion by means of an online database of 
> macrolanguage inclusions for both current and obsoleted codes.  
> Applications would include an internal copy of the database which they 
> would update from the Internet at intervals.

That's closer to what ISO 639-6 is doing: a complete hierarchy of language
varieties.  See my previous posting for why a macrolanguage gets created;
the circumstances are very special (closely related languages, frequently
treated as a single language, ISO 639-2 code).

To make a way-out hypothetical:  if the Goidelic languages underwent
spelling and other reforms to make them close enough to be mutually
intelligible, at least within limits; and if the common form came to
be thought of as a single language; and if ISO 639-2 assigned a
single code to this newly recognized single language -- then there
would be a strong case for a new macrolanguage code, given that
the three existing languages have codes.  But how likely is all that?

First known example of political correctness:   John Cowan
After Nurhachi had united all the other
Jurchen tribes under the leadership of the      cowan at
Manchus, his successor Abahai (1592-1643)
issued an order that the name Jurchen should       --S. Robert Ramsey,
be banned, and from then on, they were all           The Languages of China
to be called Manchus.

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