Ietf-languages Digest, Vol 74, Issue 1

Anthony Aristar aristar at
Sun Feb 22 19:47:10 CET 2009

Sorry, John:  I wasn't trying to get at you... Rather, what you were 
seeing was a level of frustration which
is quite common in the linguistic community.  So far, the only 
academically acceptable standard for language
codes to come out of ISO is 639-3.  All the other 639 series standards 
seem either misguided or
inconsistent.  Probably it's just sour grapes on our part that linguists 
seem never (or rarely) to be
consulted on issues that directly affect us!

John Cowan wrote:
> Anthony Aristar scripsit:
>> Well, it's interesting to know the background for this set.  But it
>> raises a recurrent issue  for ISO standards.  More than once in the
>> past I've seen a standard promulgated;  yet the explanation for the
>> oddities of that standard are known only to those who happen to be in
>> a select group.
> Oh dear.
> I hastily add that I am absolutely not on any inside track for ISO itself.
> The fact that ISO 639-5 is a superset of ISO 639-2 is a patent fact,
> no inside knowledge required.  And although I am a BCP 47 (RFC 4646)
> insider, that's a self-selected rather than a select group -- anyone
> with an Internet connection can become an insider who's willing to learn
> and participate.
> So I really don't know what the ISO purpose of 639-5 is meant to be.
> I can speak only to the purpose of including its code elements in BCP 47.

Anthony Aristar, Director, Institute for Language & Information Technology
  Professor of Linguistics            Moderator, LINGUIST Linguistics Program
Dept. of English                       aristar at
Eastern Michigan University            2000 Huron River Dr, Suite 104
Ypsilanti, MI 48197


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