ISO 639-5 reconfirmation ballot (long)

Doug Ewell doug at
Sun Jul 17 05:20:25 CEST 2016

To the extent that Anthony is arguing that ISO 639-5 language 
collections can't be correlated with individual languages, I certainly 
agree that that is a problem.

To pick one example, ISO 639-5 provides the following hierarchy for 
[cmc], "Chamic languages":

map : poz : pqw : cmc

This denotes the following relationship:

[map] Austronesian languages
    +-- [poz] Malayo-Polynesian languages
        +-- [pqw] Western Malayo-Polynesian languages
            +-- [cmc] Chamic languages

But there's no way to look up what individual languages are contained 
within [cmc]. For that matter, we can't tell except by exhaustive 
scanning whether [cmc] contains other, lower-level collections.

I don't know if this can realistically be solved; see my earlier comment 
about Ethnologue attempting to keep track of their own hierarchy, and 
changing the relationships with some frequency. Still, I can see that it 
limits the usefulness of the collections. Going back to my example of 
tagging something as "Hmong-Mien languages," that might not help if 
there is no common agreement on the members of the set of Hmong-Mien 

I'm not quite as sympathetic to why it is such a problem that collection 
codes cannot be easily distinguished at sight from individual language 
codes. I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here.

Doug Ewell | Thornton, CO, US |

More information about the Ietf-languages mailing list