ISO 639 JAC decision re mo/mol

Mark Davis mark at
Mon Nov 3 23:08:05 CET 2008

Deprecation of "mo" is a welcome step; whenever BCP47 has two separate codes
for entities that are really dialects, regional variants, or orthographic
variants of a single language, it just causes problems for any software that
has to deal with them. Thus one ends up having to have a special hack to
treat "mo" as if it were "ro-Cyrl-MD". Introducing a formal deprecation in
ISO and then the IANA registry alerts people and software as to the
underlying relationship, and allows simpler canonicalization to a unique
form for comparison. People can still call "ro-Cyrl-MD" by the term


There are, however, two changes that need to be made to the IANA registry
for this:

A. 'mo':
- deprecate and add preferred code "ro-Cyrl".

B. 'ro':
- remove the suppress-script of Latn
- add a comment that Romanian as used in Moldavia ("ro-MD") is typically
called "Moldovan" or "Moldavian" and written in Cyrillic. It is thus
generally equivalent in function to "ro-Cyrl-MD".


On Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 7:51 AM, Lang Gérard <gerard.lang at> wrote:

> Maybe, but this does not explain why "mo" and "mol" have been created and
> used during this time. In particular, if "mol" has been created, there must
> be some terminological or bibliographical entries (notably at the LC ?)
> having used this code element ? Because "mol" was created in 1998, after the
> 1994 Constitution of Moldova.
> And if the Moldovan language academy recognization is new, is it between
> 2008-06-26 (when ISO 639 RA/JAC  modified "mo" and "mol" by adding a new
> language name variant) and now ?
> Cordialement
> Gérard LANG
> De : John Cowan [mailto:cowan at]
> Envoyé : lundi 3 novembre 2008 16:30
> À : Lang Gérard
> Cc : Doug Ewell; ietf-languages at; havard at
>  Objet : Re: ISO 639 JAC decision re mo/mol
>  Lang Gérard scripsit:
> > How is it possible that this language name, that passed all criteria
> > to be recognized inside ISO 639[-1] and ISO 639-2 during 20 or 10
> > years, has now to be deprecated ?
> In a word, because political realities have finally caught up to linguistic
> ones: the constitution may say "Moldovan language", but the Moldovan
> language academy recognizes the facts on the ground, which are that Moldovan
> is Romanian.
> --
> But that, he realized, was a foolish            John Cowan
> thought; as no one knew better than he          cowan at
> that the Wall had no other side.      
>        --Arthur C. Clarke, "The Wall of Darkness"
> _______________________________________________
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