ISO 639 - New item approved - N'Ko

Addison Phillips addison at
Thu Jun 8 16:11:46 CEST 2006

> The concept of multiple Description fields was intended to reflect 
> situations where two or more genuinely different names are used to 
> identify the same language.  This does not mean providing 
> translations 
> of a language name into multiple languages (German, Deutsch, 
> allemand, 
> tedesco, etc.), but providing alternative names -- generally in their 
> English form -- that are likely to translate to alternative names in 
> other languages as well.

This is not quite true.

Multiple description fields were introduced to allow multiple descriptions of languages. In particular, they were intended to address criticism that only English and/or English-like Latin transcription was permitted in the registry. The RFC allows nearly any language to be registered and it doesn't delineate what is or is not appropriate to *consider* for registration. The initial registry contains only the English transcriptions of language names from ISO 639 and that will likely be the continuing policy for future initial registrations. But there is no rule against other registrations, should this list develop consensus in favor of them. The purpose was exactly to provide support for other languages, notwithstanding the Working Group's feeling that these were unnecessary.


Addison Phillips
Internationalization Architect - Yahoo! Inc.

Internationalization is an architecture.
It is not a feature.  

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