ISO 639 name change: Songhai languages

Peter Constable petercon at
Tue Jan 9 05:45:52 CET 2007

From: Don Osborn [mailto:dzo at] 

> So aside from someone like me (in this case) taking the 
> time to pass on some suggestions, is there any way that 
> the listings can give caveats? Such as - "this language 
> is also part of a macrolanguage x" (the individual language
> pages on the 639-3 site do this; 

Well, there you go.

> Ethnologue might do similarly). 

I think it's out of scope for Ethnologue; language coding is not its
purpose. (But that's just my opinion; I don't speak for the Ethnologue.
You can always suggest it to them.)

> And "the writing system of this language may be determined 
> in each country it is spoken." (or some such). 

Well, in principle that could be done -- if somebody actually had
comprehensive knowledge about orthographies. But I know of nobody who
does. If someone did, that would be beyond the scope of ISO 639. I know
there are some people at SIL that are interested in starting an
initiative to compile that kind of info and make it available, but that
doesn't exist today.

> give pertinent added info to alert users in the case of more
> complex language/macrolanguage situations (I should perhaps
> suggest something along these lines for Ethnologue 16 online).

It never hurts to try suggesting.

> In the end maybe no degree of caveats and alerts will avoid 
> some kinds of misuse, but some might help.

Offering guidance certainly can't hurt, while the lack of guidance can.

Peter Constable

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