ISO 639 name changes: a general correction

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Jan 5 15:59:28 CET 2007

H?vard  Hjulstad scripsit:

> I have circulated a number of announcements with the following statement:
> "The implication of this change is that the item is considered a
> language group rather than an individual language."
> Instead of "language group" I should have used the term "macrolanguage".

Are you sure?

None of the code elements whose names you are changing are listed as
macrolanguages in the current draft 639-3, and all of them were
classified as language collections by the original 639-2 to Ethnologue
mapping at

True macrolanguages are typified by Chinese and Arabic, which presumably
are not being changed to "Chinese languages" and "Arabic languages".
If a fundamental realignment of individual languages vs. macrolanguages
vs. language collections is going on here, we need to know about it.

John Cowan    cowan at
[T]here is a Darwinian explanation for the refusal to accept Darwin.
Given the very pessimistic conclusions about moral purpose to which his
theory drives us, and given the importance of a sense of moral purpose
in helping us cope with life, a refusal to believe Darwin's theory may
have important survival value. --Ian Johnston

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