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LINGUIST List 18.481

Tue Feb 13 2007

FYI: ISO 639-3 now a Published International Standard

Editor for this issue: Dan Parker <danlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Joan Spanne, ISO 639-3 now a Published International Standard

Message 1: ISO 639-3 now a Published International Standard
Date: 12-Feb-2007
From: Joan Spanne <iso639-3sil.org>
Subject: ISO 639-3 now a Published International Standard

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced the
formal release of ISO 639-3 to comprehensively provide three-letter codes
for identifying the world’s languages. ISO 639-3 currently has unique
three-letter codes for 7,546 human languages (living, extinct, ancient,
historical and artificial.) ISO 639-1 and -2 are existing standards for
language codes that continue in use. The new standard, released February 5,
2007, greatly expands upon the 478 codes formerly provided by ISO 639-2,
having the goal of comprehensive coverage for human languages, while
maintaining compatibility with the more limited set. Most of the additions
from living and extinct languages were derived from the Ethnologue (15th
ed.). The additional ancient, historical and artificial languages were
obtained primarily from Linguist List. The new standard also introduces the
concept of a “macrolanguage” for purposes of language coding. The intent of
the macrolanguage code is to be able to specify as a unit all the very
closely related language varieties of a given language where there are some
contexts in which the group is better considered as a single language, such
as with Chinese, Arabic or Cree.

As the Registration Authority, SIL International processes updates to the
language code set and distributes information on pending and adopted
changes. Knowledge of languages at any point in time will never be
complete. Given the comprehensive nature of ISO 639-3, changes to the code
set are inevitable, especially in respect to lesser-known languages. The
worldwide community of users of ISO 639-3 is invited to participate in the
process of recommending and reviewing changes. Proposals for changes to be
considered during the first review cycle will be accepted up through March
30th, 2007. Please see the ISO 639-3 site page ''Submitting ISO 639-3
Change Requests'' (http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/submit_changes.asp) for more
information on the process. An updated version of the code set will be
posted after each review cycle.

Related links of interest
ISO 639-3 Homepage: http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/default.asp
ISO information page for 639-3:

ISO 639-2 (Library of Congress): http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/
The Linguist List: Ancient and Extinct Languages:
The Linguist List: Constructed Languages:
Ethnologue, Languages of the World: http://www.ethnologue.com/

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Computational Linguistics

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