ISO 639 is a set of standards by the International Organization for Standardization that is concerned with representation of names for language and language groups.
The six parts of the standard
|Standard||Name (Codes for the representation of names of languages – ...)||First edition||Current||No. in list|
|ISO 639-1||Part 1: Alpha-2 code||1967 (as ISO 639)||2002||184|
|ISO 639-2||Part 2: Alpha-3 code||1998||1998||>450|
|ISO 639-3||Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages||2007||2007||7704 + local range|
|ISO 639-4||Part 4: Implementation guidelines and general principles for language coding||2010-07-16||2010-07-16||(not a list)|
|ISO 639-5||Part 5: Alpha-3 code for language families and groups||2008-05-15||2008-05-15||114|
|ISO 639-6||Part 6: Alpha-4 representation for comprehensive coverage of language variants||2009-11-17||2009-11-17||?|
Each part of the standard is maintained by a maintenance agency, which adds codes and changes the status of codes when needed.
Characteristics of individual codes
- Individual languages
- Macrolanguages (part 3)
- Collections of languages (part 1, 2, 5) (part 1 contains only 1 collection: bh; most collections are in part 2, and a few were added in part 5)
- Rest group
- Reserved for local use (part 2, 3)
- Special situations (part 2, 3)
Types (for individual languages):
- Living languages (part 2, 3) (all macrolanguages are living languages)
- Extinct languages (part 2, 3) (437, four in part 2 chb, chg, cop, sam; none in part 1)
- Ancient languages (part 1, 2, 3) (112, 19 are in part 2; and 5 of them, namely ave, chu, lat, pli and san, also have a code in part 1: ae, cu, la, pi, sa)
- Historic languages (part 2, 3) (63, 16 of them are in part 2, none has part 1 code)
- Constructed languages (part 2, 3) (19, 9 in part 2: epo, ina, ile, ido, vol, afh, jbo, tlh, zbl; five in part 1: eo, ia, i.e., io, vo)
Bibliographic and terminology codes
- Bibliographic (part 2)
- Terminology (part 2)
Relations between the parts
The first four columns contain codes for a representative of a specific type of relation between the parts of ISO 639. E.g. there are four elements that have a code in part 1, have a B/T code, and are macrolanguages per part 3. One representative of these four elements is "Persian" [fas].
|ISO 639-1||ISO 639-2||ISO 639-3||ISO 639-5||#||Description of example|
|en||eng||eng||(-)||132||185 in Part 1, subtract all special cases for Part 1 codes, 185-2-25-17-4-2-1-1-1=132|
|nb||nob||nob||(-)||2||individual language, belongs to macrolanguage (nor), same code in Part 2 and has a code in Part 1. The two codes are: nob, non|
|ar||ara||ara (M)||(-)||25||Part 3 macro, 55 macro total, subtract special cases, 55-24-4-1-1=25|
|de||ger/deu (B/T)||deu||(-)||15||22 elements where B and T differ. Subtract special cases, 22-1-4-2=15.|
|cs||cze/ces (B/T)||ces||(-)||1||Element with differing B/T code and the letters from the Part 1 code are not the first two letters of the T code.|
|fa||per/fas (B/T)||fas (M)||(-)||4||Part 3 macro; the four T codes are: fas, msa, sqi, zho|
|hr||scr/hrv (B/T)||hrv||(-)||2||Part 2 B deprecated, the two T codes are: hrv, srp. Deprecated 2008-06-28.|
|no ("M")||nor ("M")||nor (M)||(-)||1||Part 3 macro and containing languages have codes in Part 1, nor: non, nob; no: nn, nb|
|bh||bih||(-)||?||1||Bihari (bih) is marked as collective despite having an ISO 639-1 code which should only be for individual languages. The reason is that some individual Bihari languages received an ISO 639-2 code, which makes Bihari a language family for the purposes of ISO 639-2, but a single language for the purposes of ISO 639-1. The single are: bho, mai, mag|
|sh||(-)||hbs (M)||(-)||1||Part 3 macro, ISO 639-1 code deprecated, no part 2 code|
|(bh)||bho||bho||(-)||3||individual language code in Part 2 + 3, belongs not to a macrolanguage, in Part 1 covered by a code which has equivalent in Part 2 which is a collective. The three codes are: bho, mai, mag|
|(bh)||(bih)||sck||(-)||individual language no code in Part 2, belongs not to a macrolanguage, in Part 1 covered by a code which has equivalent in Part 2 which is a collective.|
|(-)||car||car||car||individual language in Part 2 and Part 3, but also included in Part 5 as a family|
|(-)||ast||ast||(-)||individual language in Part 2 and Part 3, no code in Part 1|
|(-)||bal||bal (M)||(-)||24||individual language in Part 2 and macro in Part 3, no code in Part 1|
|(-)||mis||mis||?||1||special code: uncoded language|
|(-)||mul||mul||?||1||special code: multilingual content|
|(-)||und||und||?||1||special code: undetermined|
|(-)||zxx||zxxhf||?||1||special code: added 2006-01-11 to declare the absence of linguistic information|
|(-)||qaa||qaa||?||520||reserved for local use, range is qaa ... qtz|
|(-)||aus||(-)||aus||regular group in Part 2|
|(-)||afa||(-)||afa||In Part 2 a rest group, i.e. same code but different languages included. In Part 2 "afa" refers to an Afro-Asiatic language that does not have an individual-language identifier in Part 2, and that does not fall into the rest groups "ber - Berber (Other)", "cus - Cushitic (Other)", or "sem - Semitic (Other)", all of which are Afro-Asiatic language groups.|
|(ar)||(ara "M")||arb||(-)||individual language, belongs to macrolanguage (ara), in Part 2 covered by the macrolanguage code, in Part 1 also covered|
|(-)||(nic "R")||aaa||(-)||in Part 2 best covered by a rest group, "Niger-Kodofanian (Other)"|
|(-)||(-)||(-)||sqj||group not coded in Part 2|
- codes in Part 1 have one or two codes (B/T codes) in Part 2, every language that has two codes in Part 2 has one code in Part 1
- one code: en -> eng
- two codes (#~23): de <-> ger/deu
- Part 2 has reserved codes and three special codes
- qaa ... qtz, mul, und, zxx
- individual languages in Part 2 have a code in Part 3 and have one or no code in Part 1
- one code: eng -> eng -> en
- no code: ast -> ast -> (empty)
- collective codes in Part 2 have a code in Part 5
- cover different languages: afa != afa
- cover same languages: aus = aus
- one collective code in Part 2 has a code in Part 1
- bih -> bh
- some codes in Part 5 have no code in Part 2
- some codes (#~56) in Part 3 are macrolanguages, they may have
- no Part 2 code but a Part 1 codes and their containing languages have codes in Part 2 and Part 1 (#1): hbs <-> sh (deprecated) ; bos, hrv/scr, srp/scc -> bs, hr, sr
- a Part 2 code and a Part 1 code(#1), while their containing languages also have codes in Part 1 and Part 2: nor -> nor -> no ; non, nob -> non, nob -> nn, nb
- no Part 1 code (#several):
- two Part 2 codes (B/T) (#4): fas, msa, sqi, zho -> per/fas, may/msa, alb/sqi, chi/zho
Alpha-2 code space
"Alpha-2" codes (for codes composed of 2 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet) are used in ISO 639-1. When codes for a wider range of languages were desired, more than 2 letter combinations could cover (a maximum of 262 = 676), ISO 639-2 was developed using Alpha-3 codes (though the latter was formally published first).Template:Fix/category
Alpha-3 code space
"Alpha-3" codes (for codes composed of 3 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet) are used in ISO 639-2, ISO 639-3, and ISO 639-5. The number of languages and language groups that can be so represented is 263 = 17,576.
The common use of Alpha-3 codes by three parts of ISO 639 requires some coordination within a larger system.
Part 2 defines four special codes
zxx, a reserved range
qaa-qtz (20 × 26 = 520 codes) and has 23 double entries (the B/T codes). This sums up to 520 + 23 + 4 = 547 codes that cannot be used in part 3 to represent languages or in part 5 to represent language families or groups.
The remainder is 17,576 – 547 = 17,029.
There are somewhere around six or seven thousand languages on Earth today. So those 17,029 codes are adequate to assign a unique code to each language, although some languages may end up with arbitrary codes that sound nothing like the traditional name(s) of that language.
Alpha-4 code space
"Alpha-4" codes (for codes composed of 4 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet) is proposed to be used in ISO 639-6. The upper limit for the number of languages and dialects that can be represented is 264 = 456,976.
- IETF language tags (based on ISO 639)
- ISO 3166 (codes for countries)
- ISO 15924 (codes for writing systems)
- ISO, SIL, and BCP language codes for constructed languages
- Language code
- Language families and languages
- List of languages
- List of official languages
Notes and references
- "ISO/R 639:1967". Iso.org. 1988-03-01. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=4765. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639:1988". Iso.org. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_ics/catalogue_detail_ics.htm?csnumber=4766. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639 code tables". Sil.org. http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp?order=scope&letter=m. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639 code tables". Sil.org. http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp?order=lang_type&letter=e. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639 code tables". Sil.org. http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp?order=lang_type&letter=a. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639 code tables". Sil.org. http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp?order=lang_type&letter=h. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639 code tables". Sil.org. http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/codes.asp?order=lang_type&letter=c. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639 code sets". Sil.org. http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/documentation.asp?id=car. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "ISO 639-5 Identifier : Codes for the representation of names of languages (ISO 639-5 Registration Authority - Library of Congress)". Loc.gov:8081. 2008-12-23. http://www.loc.gov:8081/standards/iso639-5/id.php. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- "Statistical Summaries". Ethnologue. http://www.ethnologue.com/ethno_docs/distribution.asp?by=family. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
- Official ISO 639 list Template:Clarify
- ISO 639-2 Registration Authority
- ISO 639-3 Registration Authority
- Common Locale Data Repository which contains translations of ISO 639 codes in other languages in an XML format. The CLDR survey tool also contains a more readable format of the data.
- ISO 639 and the Ethnologue
- ISO 639 Registration Authority Report, 2004–2005
- ISO 639-2/RA Codes for the Representation of Names of Languages, US Library of Congress
Template:Footer ISO 639 Template:ISO standards