ISO 639 JAC decision re mo/mol

Debbie Garside debbie at
Wed Nov 5 10:46:16 CET 2008

I would advise to wait a little while  as the reference name of 'ro' is
presently under discussion by the ISO 639 JAC.
best regards

From: ietf-languages-bounces at
[mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Mark Davis
Sent: 03 November 2008 22:08
To: Lang Gérard
Cc: ietf-languages at; John Cowan; Doug Ewell
Subject: Re: ISO 639 JAC decision re mo/mol

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 ?
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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