ISO 639 decision: arc = Official Aramaic; Imperial Aramaic

Peter Constable petercon at
Wed May 30 15:59:52 CEST 2007

The LOC site for ISO 639-2 has been updated to reflect the name change.

Peter Constable
Program Manager * Font Technologies

-----Original Message-----
From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Håvard Hjulstad
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 12:32 AM
To: John Cowan; Doug Ewell
Cc: ietf-languages at
Subject: RE: ISO 639 decision: arc = Official Aramaic; Imperial Aramaic

There are many languages called "Xyz Aramaic"; see the ISO 639-3 web site: It was found that "arc" had previously been used practically exclusively for "Official Aramaic", and it was deemed more appropriate to modify the name to reflect that.

The "time span note" is in the current versions of the databases expressed as "(700-300 BCE)" following the name. In a future "ISO 639 as database" the intention is to encode this more explicitly.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:cowan at]
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:56 AM
To: Doug Ewell
Cc: ietf-languages at; Håvard Hjulstad
Subject: Re: ISO 639 decision: arc = Official Aramaic; Imperial Aramaic

Doug Ewell scripsit:

> >The item "arc", which has been encoded in ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3
> >with the name "Aramaic" and "araméen" (English and French), is
> >changed to "Official Aramaic; Imperial Aramaic" and "araméen
> >d'empire", with an addition of a note indicating the time span 700-300 BCE.
> This was 26 days ago.  When can we expect this decision to be
> reflected in the lists on the official ISO 639-2 Web site?  I've been
> waiting to see how the "time span" note is worded before proposing a
> change to the IETF Language Subtag Registry.

Okay, but this is the essence of the issue we had before: is this narrowing, or simply clarifying?  There are lots of languages called "Aramaic"; is the RA/JAC making a distinction that wasn't made before, or has "arc" always been intended to signify Imperial Aramaic only, and that's just being spelled out for the first time?

Havard, can you comment?  It makes a lot of difference to us.

In politics, obedience and support      John Cowan <cowan at>
are the same thing.  --Hannah Arendt
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