codes for transliterated languages

Peter Constable petercon at
Fri Jan 20 00:33:27 CET 2006

It might help if you gave some specific examples. 

Abusing private-use country IDs to indicate transliteration is decidedly
not a good idea. It completely goes against the semantics most typically
associated with region-dependent distinctions (dialect, spelling) and is
quite inadequate to reflect writing-system distinctions. (How would you
tag Arabic transliterated into one of the dozen or so scripts of India?)
If you want to indicate something like Russian in Latin transliteration,
something building off "ru-Latn" (as permitted in 3066bis) makes much
more sense.

Peter Constable

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of S.Rieder at
> Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2006 12:49 AM
> To: ietf-languages at
> Subject: codes for transliterated languages
> >Hi,
>  >I would appreciate your assistance in a specific issue, ie. language
>codes for
> transliterated languages. >
> a>>) are there language codes that are already assigned/reserved for
> >'transliterations' of languages,
> >or
> >b) 'user-assigned' codes should be used?
> >In case of b), I see that ISO 639 reserves 'x' for private use for
>alpha-2 codes
> (similar to ISO 3166). However, I came across a >formulation in
document 'RFC
> 3066' of  Jan 2001 which reads:
> ...>'ISO 3166 reserves the country codes AA, QM-QZ, XA-XZ and ZZ as
> assigned codes.  [==> the following puzzles me ==> ] These MUST >NOT
be used to
> form language tags.'
> >What's behind this restriction? Or is this obsolete and I am
>referring to an old
> version of the document....?
> >If we'd use the 'x' series for the transliteration of Arabic, Chiese
or Russian, we
> would choose 'XA' for Arabic, 'XC' (or >'XZ') for Chinese, 'XR' for
Russian. These
> codes are already assigned >by us as alpha-2 'user-assigned country
codes' to our
> various >international org's but would be no problem to use them in a
>different field,
> ie. language id code.
> >
> >Thanks for your assistance in this matter.
> >Seyda RIEDER
> >^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> IAEA, >INIS & NKM Section
> >e-mail: S.Rieder at
> >
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