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ISO 639-3:2007, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages, is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 639 series. The standard describes three‐letter codes for identifying languages. It extends the ISO 639-2 alpha-3 codes with an aim to cover all known natural languages. The standard was published by ISO on 2007-02-05.1
It is intended for use in a wide range of applications, in particular computer systems where many languages need to be supported. It provides an enumeration of languages as complete as possible, including living and extinct, ancient and constructed, major and minor, written and unwritten.1 However, it does not include reconstructed languages such as Proto-Indo-European.2
It is a superset of ISO 639-1 and of the individual languages in ISO 639-2. ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2 focused on major languages, most frequently represented in the total body of the world's literature. Since ISO 639-2 also includes language collections and Part 3 does not, ISO 639-3 is not a superset of ISO 639-2. Where B and T codes exist in ISO 639-2, ISO 639-3 uses the T-codes.
|individual||arb + others|
As of April 2012[update], the standard contains 7776 entries.3 The inventory of languages is based on a number of sources including: the individual languages contained in 639-2, modern languages from the Ethnologue, historic varieties, ancient languages and artificial languages from Anthony Aristar at the Linguist List as well as languages recommended within the annual public commenting period.
A transition from ISO 639-1 to ISO 639-3 could be done using the data contained in the list of ISO 639-1 codes.
Since the code is three-letter alphabetic, one upper bound for the number of languages that can be represented is 26 × 26 × 26 = 17576. Since ISO 639-2 defines special codes (4), a reserved range (520) and B-only codes (23), 547 codes cannot be used in part 3. Therefore a lower upper bound is 17576 − 547 = 17030.
The upper bound gets even lower if one subtracts the language collections defined in 639-2 and the ones yet to be defined in ISO 639-5.
There are 56 languages in ISO 639-2 which are considered, for the purposes of the standard, to be "macrolanguages" in ISO 639-3.4
Some of these macrolanguages had no individual language as defined by ISO 639-3 in the code set of ISO 639-2, e.g. 'ara' (Generic Arabic). Others like 'nor' (Norwegian) had their two individual parts ('nno' (Nynorsk), 'nob' (Bokmål)) already in ISO 639-2.
That means some languages (e.g. 'arb', Standard Arabic) that were considered by ISO 639-2 to be dialects of one language ('ara') are now in ISO 639-3 in certain contexts considered to be individual languages themselves.
This is an attempt to deal with varieties that may be linguistically distinct from each other, but are treated by their speakers as two forms of the same language, e.g. in cases of diglossia.
- http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/documentation.asp?id=ara (Generic Arabic, 639-2)
- http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/documentation.asp?id=arb (Standard Arabic, 639-3)
See5 for the complete list.
"A collective language code element is an identifier that represents a group of individual languages that are not deemed to be one language in any usage context."6 These codes do not precisely represent a particular language or macrolanguage.
While ISO 639-2 includes three-letter identifiers for collective languages, these codes are excluded from ISO 639-3. Hence ISO 639-3 is not a superset of ISO 639-2.
ISO 639-5 defines 3-letter collective codes for language families and groups.
- Ethnologue, Linguist List,
- IETF language tag
- Lexical Markup Framework, ISO specification for representation of machine-readable dictionaries
- Proposed as language TLD (lcTLD)78
Four codes are set aside for for cases where none of the specific codes are appropriate. These are intended primarily for applications like databases where an ISO code is required regardless of whether one exists.
|zxx||no linguistic content / not applicable|
mis (originally an abbreviation for 'miscellaneous') is intended for languages which have not (yet) been included in the ISO standard.
mul is intended for cases where the data includes more than one language, and (for example) the database requires a single ISO code.
und is intended for cases where the language in the data has not been identified, such as when it is mislabeled or never had been labeled. It is not intended for cases such as Trojan where an unattested language has been given a name.
zxx is intended for data which is not a language at all, such as animal calls.9
In addition, codes in the range
qaa–qtz are 'reserved for local use', for example for extinct languages at Linguist List.
- "ISO 639-3 status and abstract". iso.org. 2010-07-20. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "Types of individual languages - Ancient languages". sil.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "ISO 639-3 Code Set". Sil.org. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "Scope of denotation: Macrolanguages". sil.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "Macrolanguage Mappings". sil.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "Scope of denotation: Collective languages". sil.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "Languages in the Root: A TLD Launch Strategy Based on ISO 639". Circleid.com. 2004-10-05. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- "ICANN Email Archives: [gtld-strategy-draft]". Forum.icann.org. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- Field Recordings of Vervet Monkey Calls. Entry in the catalog of the Linguistic Data Consortium. Retrieved 2012-09-04)