use of ISO 639-3 (was RE: Phonetic orthographies)

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Nov 11 19:44:21 CET 2006

From: ietf-languages-bounces at
[mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Gerard

> One further argument I would like to add, for languages 
> that have not such a rich history on the Internet: people 
> will use the ISO-639-3 code that is specific to their 
> language. 

They should do so, but only in accordance with the terms of BCP47 as it
will be revised in RFC4646bis. Going off and inventing things on their
own rather than following IETF specs is a Bad Idea.

> Using the logic of the RFC 4646 they should however use a 
> different code. Something that will be and has been roundly 
> rejected by the people who want to use their code for their 
> language. 

People should understand what the IETF spec says and what is planned for
the revision to incorporate ISO 639-3 before jumping to conclusions. It
*will* allow for content to be tagged to declare the specific language;
it will just do so in a way that allows interoperability with older
implementations that know nothing of ISO 639-3.

> FYI, I am a member of the Wikimedia Foundation language 
> subcommittee. I am particularly active at

Then I think it's especially important that you understand the standards
that the ISO 639/RA-JAC and the IETF LTRU WG are providing and not make
independent decisions on how to tag content where Internet protocols are
involved. You may want to consider joining the LTRU WG: we do want to
interact with significant initiatives that have important applications
for language tags.

(FYI, I have been editor of ISO 639-3 and am a member of the ISO
639/RA-JAC as well as the LTRU WG. )

Peter Constable

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