How to handle macrolanguage when no code?

Don Osborn dzo at
Thu Apr 9 01:40:05 CEST 2009

In looking at the BBC website's offerings in African languages, one notes
that they have grouped Kinyarwanda and Kirundi together under  . This makes sense from a linguistic point
of view since as I understand it, the two languages are almost the same.
When looking at the view (page) source, one notes that they use lang="rw"
(for Kinyarwanda). It may be that the pages I checked are properly
Kinyarwanda and an expert would know that they are not Kirundi (rn), but it
is in any event true that there is no code element to cover both languages.


I'm curious if there is any other recommended way to handle such a situation
where web content may be deliberately and easily designed to cover more than
one language as defined by ISO 639 when there is not currently any
macrolanguage code for them. Could one for example define a whole page as
having two languages? E.g., something like lang="rw, rn"?


Thanks in advance for any feedback.





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