Suggestion: registration of variant subtags for Aluku, Ndyuka, and Pamaka (Suriname/French Guiana English-based Creoles)

Doug Ewell doug at
Mon Jan 26 01:12:13 CET 2009

CE Whitehead had written:

> As far as I understand, it is possible to change the ISO639-3 codes 
> and language names (Joan Span's posting has just reminded me of this), 
> but you are right; I do not think a change to the code itself would be 
> worth pursuing; if you wished to add additional names however, that 
> would be fine:

Peter Constable <petercon at microsoft dot com> replied:

> It is *not* possible to change the ID of an already-encoded category, 
> so requesting such a change is definitely not worth pursuing. Changing 
> the name without changing the semantic is possible, however, and 
> changes to a semantic are possible with restrictions so as to avoid 
> causing existing usage to become invalid.

I'm only guessing, but it's possible CE was looking at previous (2007) 
changes in which an ISO 639-3 code element was retired and a new one 
*for the same language name* was added.  Rajbanshi is an example.  In 
this case, it's not strictly true that 'rjb' was changed to 'rjs', but 
rather that the denotation of the two is different; 'rjs' no longer 
includes Rangpuri as 'rjb' did.  However, when looking only at the 
names -- which is the only piece of this story that the Language Subtag 
Registry will capture -- it looks as if the code element was changed.  I 
don't see any examples of this in the 2008 change set, but there may be 

I think maybe it needs to be stated again that neither this list nor 
LTRU is the place to request changes to ISO 639-3, or even to offer 
advice about what changes can be made to 639-3.  The RA has a very open 
and accessible change-request mechanism, at least when compared to other 
ISO standards, and we ought not to try to act as a surrogate for that.

CE continued (I missed this earlier):

> And we can still approve the variant subtags (once RFC 4646 is 
> published?  Is that the consensus?)

RFC 4646bis, not 4646.

I don't understand why this would be a question of "consensus."  Once 
the language subtags are in the Registry -- call it Date D -- we can 
review any proposals related to those subtags, such as M. Vaillant's 
variants, and the Reviewer can act upon them.  We just can't take any 
action on these proposals until Date D.

Doug Ewell  *  Thornton, Colorado, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14  ˆ

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