The limit of language codes

Jon Hanna jon at
Tue Feb 20 13:44:11 CET 2007

Marion Gunn wrote:
> These are the facts:
> 1. Great Britain (GB) excludes Ireland;
> 2. United Kingdom (UK) includes part of Ireland.

In the context of a protocol that uses ISO 3166, "GB" identifies the 
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and "UK" does not 
identify anything, so any use of it is simply a bug.

The fact that GB is assigned on the basis of its being an abbreviation 
of "Great Britain" is a matter of etymology and as important to the 
operation of the standard as the fact that "computer" comes from the 
word for a type of office clerk who would do a lot of maths.

Any need for a distinction between the geographical entity "Great 
Britain" (commonly identified by the abbreviation "GB") and the country 
"United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" (commonly 
identified by the abbreviation "UK" and identified in ISO 3166 by the 
code "GB") would have to be made by use of an identifier for Great 
Britain that could not be confused with the ISO identifiers.

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