Questions on ISO 639-3.

Mark Davis mark at
Fri Nov 21 20:28:47 CET 2008

I have a couple of questions about ISO 639-3 (and the Ethnologue) that
I'm hoping someone here can answer or forward.

1. Is there an oversight with Akan?

shows Akan as a Macrolanguage, but has a Denotation that points to the
Ethnologue, where it is treated as if it were an individual language.

This seems incorrect, and is also not the case for a few other
Macrolanguages that I sampled, including nor, hbs, zho (no, sh, zh).

2. This is more of a request; it would be quite handy if the web
queries (both for ISO 639-3 and the Ethnologue) also took the BCP 47
forms, eg.
worked just like:

It would be handier for other sites to link in that way, using the
standard BCP 47 code.

3. Now that ISO 639-5 is out, are there any plans to update the
Language Family Index, so as to add the new codes that were missing?

Eg, so that we'd see on

Indo-European (ine)
  Albanian (sqj)
  Baltic (bat)
  Germanic (gem)
The table in ISO 639-3 of the language families is interesting (eg ine
: gem : gmw), but (a) incomplete, since it doesn't actually include
the elements of gmw, and (b) not machine readable (grrrh).


More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list