ISO 639-3 2011 changes: ikt

Philip Newton philip.newton at
Thu Aug 9 08:37:15 CEST 2012

On 9 August 2012 07:19, Doug Ewell <doug at> wrote:
> Philip Newton wrote:
>>> The first Description field in a language subtag record is special.
>>> It corresponds to the one and only 639-3 reference name for that code
>>> element (§3.1.5).
>> Does this mean that ISO 639 changed the reference name for "ikt" from
>> "Western Canadian Inuktitut" to "Inuinnaqtun", in the process
>> relegating the original reference name "Western Canadian Inuktitut" to
>> an additional name?
>> Because that is what the proposed language subtag record seems to
>> imply, yet that isn't what I understood the change to be.
> I suppose you are looking at the passage in the ISO change request form
> (2011-168.pdf) where the requester asked:
> "The Linguist List states that Inuinnaqtun is French for Inuktitut, Western
> Canadian. Since the Government of Nunavut refers to Inukitut, Western
> Canadian as the language name, should the language reference name also be
> known as Inuinnaqtun?"
> This does imply that the requester felt there could be two Reference Names,
> one in English and one in French.

No; I did read that but ignored it for this purpose since it was just
that: a request, which would not necessarily be followed exactly in
the final decision.

I inferred the (non-)change from the "change requests summary"
document, where it says (converting the table row to a record):

Change Request Number: 2011-168
Identifier: ikt
Reference Name: Inuinnaqtun
Attribute Changed: Name
Old_Value: Inuktitut, Western Canadian
New_Value: Inuinnaqtun*
Outcome: Adopted

in connection with the note above the table "Ones with an asterisk
have been added as an additional reference name".

So since the new value is "Inuinnaqtun*" with an asterisk, I presumed
that this made the new value equal to the old value but with an
additional name of Inuinnaqtun - with "additional" implying that the
reference name would not change.

> However, by definition there is only one
> Reference Name for a given ISO 639-3 code element, the one that appears in
> the Code Set data file:
> ikt    A    SIL    ikt                    Inuinnaqtun    I    L    SIL

Ah, I was not aware of those files.

> the ISO 639-3 request did have the effect of changing the
> Reference Name rather than adding a second one

I see.

My main concern was that the proposed change in the registry did not
seem to represent accurately the change that ISO 639 made, but that
appears to have been based on a misunderstanding on my part. (Perhaps
the "summary of changes" was not quite as clear as it could have been
about the effect of this particular change, or perhaps I'm simply not
used to the format it uses to indicate such changes.) Thank you for
the clarification.

I'm not commenting on whether the change itself is good or not, I was
just worried that through an (odd?) oversight, the BCP 47 change might
not have been properly synchronised with the ISO 639-3 one.

Again, thank you for the explanations; I now have no objections to (or
further comments on) this change.

> it has little or no
> effect on the usability of the original name within BCP 47, or for that
> matter, within 639-3.

I see; thanks.

Philip Newton <philip.newton at>

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