ISO 639-5 reconfirmation ballot (long)

John Cowan cowan at
Sun Jul 17 02:17:08 CEST 2016

Anthony Aristar scripsit:

> This does not mean that a universally accepted set of codes is
> impossible to achieve, for this is an entirely different matter. It
> simply entails an acceptance that some of those codes will refer to
> subgrouping hypotheses that few or no one accepts any more.

That works if you have a sufficiently large codespace.  We are already
using almost half of it for languages alone.

> In sum?  By all means confirm ISO 639-5.  I suppose it's doing no
> great harm.  But don't get the idea that many -- and especially
> linguists -- will ever use it much.  You can't just expand it, for
> the premise is wrong.  You need something better.

Which is precisely why it does do harm, because there will be no effort,
at least within the international standards community, to do anything
along the lines you sketch (and I snipped).  In this case, the barely
adequate is the enemy of the good.

It should be withdrawn so that the better thing can be found.

John Cowan        cowan at
I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them
alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag
went over me.  I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am
Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.  --Bilbo to Smaug

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