Retired 639-3 codes

Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijssen at
Fri Dec 11 14:17:56 CET 2009

There are several reasons why the Wikipedias do not conform to the IETF
language tags. The first one was that at first the community could and did
ask for a Wikipedia in a language that was not recognised and often still is
not recognised in any way. When you couple this to the insistance that "own"
codes could be made up, you will realise that this resulted in a fine mess.
The second reason was that the time it took for the IETF to recognise the
ISO-639-3 was considered too long. The existing language policy requires an
ISO-639-3 code. When people want to have a Wikipedia for instance in
Latgalian, they have to ask for it and, they do.

As it is, there are Wikipedias that have a completely wrong code. This is
something that the language committee of the Wikimedia Foundation has no
control over. We have indicated that it is wrong but the communities
involved do not want to change them..

2009/12/11 Kent Karlsson <kent.karlsson14 at>

> My preference is to NOT create records in LSR for retired language
> codes that were never in the LSR.
> I see a much stronger case for adding records for three-letter
> codes that have two-letter code equivalents, and also for
> adding "UK" with the preferred value "GB". These were discussed
> during LTRU (with me in the supporting group), but such additions
> were turned down at the time.
>    /kent k
> PS
> As for Wikipedia, the conformance to IETF language tags for
> Wikipedia "labels" is far from complete.
> For instance:
> simple, bat-sng, roa-tara, roa-rup, fiu-vro, map-bms, zh-classical,
> and cbk-zam aren't IANA language tags. Here I'm just picking those
> that stand out clearly.
> Another example is that "arc" (639: Imperial Aramaic, used 700-300 BCE)
> is used by Wikipedia for Assyrian Neo-Aramaic ("aii" with macrolanguage
> "syr" in 639-3). I'm sure there are more oddities.
>    /k
> -------
> Den 2009-12-11 07.59, skrev "John Cowan" <cowan at>:
> > Michael(tm) Smith scripsit:
> >
> >> This is a request to add the retired tag "eml" to the IANA
> >> language-subtag registry as a grandfathered tag. I realize this is
> >> an odd request; for the rationale, see "6. Any other relevant
> >> information" below.
> >
> > I can't see adding it as a grandfathered tag, but there are plenty of
> > retired/deprecated tags in the registry now with more to come, and I
> > think there's a case that the 145 639-3 code elements that were retired
> > while LTRU labored should be inserted now.  I can't find anything in
> > RFC 5646 preventing us from creating pre-deprecated entries.
> > ...
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