FYI: ISO 639-5 reconfirmation ballot

Peter Constable petercon at
Sat Jul 16 04:21:39 CEST 2016

I agree, and for my part, I’ve never been convinced that there were particularly good scenarios for referencing 639-5 within BCP 47. But that’s history, and it _is_ referenced in BCP 47 now.

So, if nothing else, I think 639-5 should not be withdrawn. Because my main concern is BCP 47, I would have no qualms if 639-5 and its code table remain unchanged. I can certainly imagine linguists finding use for a rather different scheme for denoting nodes in linguistic family trees. But the alpha-3 IDs included in the language subtag registry must remain stable. It’s not clear to me whether a different coding scheme for “genetic” nodes would be appropriate for an ISO standard or not, given different analyses of genetic/historic relationships that different linguists may adhere to or that may gain or lose support over time.


From: Anthony Aristar [mailto:anthony at]
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2016 8:52 AM
To: Peter Constable <petercon at>
Cc: ietf-languages <ietf-languages at>
Subject: Re: FYI: ISO 639-5 reconfirmation ballot

Well, I don't have a vote;  but in my humble belief, 639-5 is something that should be completely rethought. It confuses people (why use alpha-3 codes which look identical to language codes?).  And it is nowhere near complete enough to be useful. I know archives which use the LINGUIST set of alpha-4 codes for these very reasons.
Anthony Aristar

On Jul 15, 2016, at 10:32 AM, Peter Constable <petercon at<mailto:petercon at>> wrote:
ISO standards go through a regularly-scheduled reconfirmation, and a reconfirmation ballot for ISO 639-5 has just been issued to national bodies. I have advised US NB representatives that 639-5 is referenced in BCP 47 and, hence, should be confirmed.

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