Ietf-languages Digest, Vol 101, Issue 4

mailler at mailler at
Thu Jun 9 13:16:37 CEST 2011

> Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2011 14:52:58 +0200
> From: Kent Karlsson <kent.karlsson14 at>
> However I could find nothing on it either by searching or else where I
> found primitive Irish, at

Here is a link to a discussion referring to the request, even though from
the discussion it is not clear whether there has been a formal request or
the request has stopped after a preliminar discussion :
"After talking to SIL about what would be the correct code, we ended on
qu_EC since no new language codes will be assigned for reasons of new
dialects, orthograpies or similar less important changes."

> From: John Cowan <cowan at>
> mailler at scripsit:
>> I read that an ISO 639-3 code for Unified kichwa has already been
>> rejected
>> by SIL, I do not know when or on which ground, I was not filing the
>> request myself. Possibly, the request was filed the existing literature
>> was not sufficient (the main books describing the language are from
>> 2009-2010).
> That sounds like it was an ISO *639-2* request.  I think a 639-3
> request might be looked on more favorably.
>From the discussion I cite above at, it seems that a
request or at least questions have been made to the SIL with the goal of
requesting a ISO 639-3 code, and that the SIL said there were no prospects
that the request is successful on the grounds that "no new language codes
will be assigned for reasons of new dialects, orthograpies or similar less
important changes"
> From: John Cowan <cowan at>
> Here are the SIL/ISO standard criteria for defining languages:
> * Two related varieties are normally considered varieties of the same
>   language if speakers of each variety have inherent understanding of
>   the other variety at a functional level (that is, can understand based
>   on knowledge of their own variety without needing to learn the other
>   variety).

I had oral confirmation of that point from a kichwa speaker from the
Lowlands who told me that he was able (with some discomfort) to talk to a
highland speaker, and from Imbabura speakers (northern highlands) who said
they were able to communicate in kichwa with people from the Chimborazo
highlands even though it is considered three different languages by SIL. I
would compare situation of the kichwa variants inside Ecuador to Occitan
in France and neighbouring countries where speakers from distant places
are more or less able to understand each other but with a high degree of
discomfort (Occitan is considered a single language by SIL).
Interestingly, a comparable merging process seems to have occured
massively in 2008 for Mexican/Cantral american languages (Cakchiquel - 9
codes merged -, Quiché - 5 codes merged - and others) in 2008 :

I think that, arguably, the kichwa variants may be merged as well.

However, I clearly don't have the sufficient knowledge and background to
go there and request that they change this, nor would I want to do that,
it regards primarily kichwa speakers or at least Ecuadorian people (in my
opinion) whereas having a new IETF code like qu-kichwa just to recognize
the existence of the "unified" version doesn't hurt anyone and doesn't
negate the existence of the regional ways of speaking, so that it would be
the least intrusive thing to do right now in my opinion.


Sylvain Mailler

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