Bengali vs. Bangla

Doug Ewell doug at
Wed Nov 25 20:07:59 CET 2015

Melinda lyons wrote:

> The reference name for this language was established by part 2 of ISO
> 639. You would need to contact the Registrar for part 2 to change it,
> and he will likely not agree, as the reference names are set at the
> Library of Congress. That being said, there is some interest in having
> a category for "the name of the language in the language" in ISO 639.
> What has not been determined is whether it would need to be in the
> local script or in Roman letters. So, Nihongo and Bangla will be added
> in the near future.

That would be a "translation" field, and RFC 5646 pretty much rules out
adding that to the Registry, at least on a systematic basis. (We do
include RA-supplied translations, as for 'csc'.)

I think what Mats was trying to say is that "Bangla" is the name that
native Bengali speakers use to refer to their language *when speaking
English.* It's also true that other English speakers, such as Michael
and John and me, use the name "Bengali."

This would not be the case for, say, "Nihongo"; any Japanese speaker
remotely competent in English would use the word "Japanese" when
speaking English.

I think we have at least four choices:

1. Do nothing.

2. Change the primary Description field, which requires persuading the
639-2 Registrar to change the Reference Name, which Melinda just said is

3. Change the primary Description field on our own, which breaks the
promise in 3.1.5 about matching the ISO name.

4. Add a secondary Description field on our own.

Doug Ewell | | Thornton, CO 🇺🇸

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