ISO 639-3/Linguasphere language sub-tags

David Dalby daviddalby at
Mon Mar 6 20:35:29 CET 2006

The Editor of ISO CD 639-6 chose yesterday, 5th March 2006, to announce the de-coupling of two on-going projects:


 (1) The updating of the Linguasphere Register of the world’s languages and speech communities (shortly to be made freely available online);

 (2) Current proposals to extend the alpha coding of the names of languages and varieties of language in the ISO 639 standard.  


The Linguasphere Observatory welcomes her announcement, which enables the Observatory to make an advanced statement to the IETF-languages forum about present research and development.


It has become increasingly clear that codes in the Latin script are inappropriate for the tagging of languages and scripts across a multilingual internet (apart from additional confusion with the 2-letter national codes of ISO 3166).  The Linguasphere Observatory has accordingly been perfecting an alternative system for the numeric coding of the world’s languages, and of their written and spoken representations on the internet (with cross-references to other systems of language coding).  A multilingual announcement of this system will be made very shortly.


With greetings to all,

David Dalby

Linguasphere Observatory
daviddalby at



L'éditeur du document ISO CD 639-6 a décidé d'annoncer hier, 5 mars 2006, le découplage de deux projets en cours de développement:


  (1) La mise à jour du Repertoire Linguasphère des langues du monde et des communautés linguistiques (qui sera bientôt mis en ligne gratuitement);

  (2) Les propositions en cours visant à une extension du codage alphabétique des noms de langues et de variétés de langues figurant dans la norme ISO 639.


L'Observatoire de la Linguasphère se réjouit de cette annonce, qui lui donne la liberté de faire une présentation précoce de l'état actuel et prospectif de ses recherches devant le forum IETF des langues.


Il devient progressivement évident que l'usage de l'alphabet latin s'avère inadapté pour le codage des langues et des écritures dans le contexte de l'internet multilingue (sans parler du risque de confusion avec le codage alpha-2 des pays et territoires fourni par la norme ISO 3166).  C'est pourquoi l'Observatoire de la Linguasphère a developpé un systeme alternatif permettant le codage numérique des langues du monde, et de leur représentations écrites et parlées sur l'internet (avec renvois aux autres systèmes de codage linguistique). Une annonce multilingue de ce système interviendra très prochainement.


Cordialement à tous

David Dalby

Observatoire de la Linguasphère

daviddalby at



From: ietf-languages-bounces at on behalf of Debbie Garside [debbie at]
Sent: 05 March 2006 09:16
To: 'Addison Phillips'; 'Eduardo Mendez'; ietf-languages at
Subject: RE: ISO 639-3/Linguasphere language subtags




The data supporting ISO CD 639-6 is no longer based solely on the Linguasphere Register but rather on research and data compiled from a number of sources.  The hierarchical system uses 639-3 and 639-5 alpha3 language tags where available.


Best regards



Debbie Garside

Editor ISO CD 639-6




From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Addison Phillips
Sent: 05 March 2006 01:09
To: 'Eduardo Mendez'; ietf-languages at
Subject: RE: ISO 639-3/Linguasphere language subtags


Hi Eduardo,


Please read the relevant text:       


The short answer is “no”


The longer answer is that ISO 639-3 is envisioned for inclusion by revising RFC 3066bis once ISO 639-3 is finished and official and alpha4 codes are reserved for the possible future inclusion of ISO 639-6 (essentially the Linguasphere codes). The place to discuss making changes to include these codes is the LTRU working group of the IETF.


If you need a specific language code and it isn’t in the language subtag registry today, you can propose a code for it and it will be registered or not on its individual merits.




Addison Phillips
Internationalization Architect - Yahoo! Inc.

Internationalization is an architecture.
It is not a feature. 


From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Eduardo Mendez
Sent: 2006年3月4日 16:38
To: ietf-languages at
Subject: ISO 639-3/Linguasphere language subtags


I might need to register some language subtags.
This is for a statistical study. 
Most are in the ISO 639-3 project.
Others are in Linguasphere.
Is this possible?
If it is proposed, will it be appealed?
Eduardo Mendez 


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