- ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3 (ISO 639-3:2007) is an international standard for language codes. The standard describes three‐letter codes for identifying languages. It extends the ISO 639-2alpha-3 codes with an aim to cover all known natural languages. The standard was published by ISO on February 5, 2007. [http://www.iso.org/iso/en/CatalogueDetailPage.CatalogueDetail?CSNUMBER=39534&ICS1=1&ICS2=140&ICS3=20 ISO 639-3 status and abstract (iso.org)] ]
It's 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. However, it does not include
reconstructed languages such as Proto-Indo-European. [ [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/types.asp#A Types of individual languages - Ancient languages (sil.org)] ]
It is a superset of
ISO 639-1and 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, whereas 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, it uses the T-codes.
The final standard contains 7589 entries [ [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/download.asp ISO 639-3 Code Set] ] . The inventory of languages is based on a number of sources including: the individual languages contained in 639-2, modern languages from the
Ethnologue15th edition, historic varieties, ancient languages and artificial languages from Anthony Aristarat the Linguist Listas well as languages recommended within a public commenting period.
A transition from ISO 639-1 could be done with
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
There are 56 languages in ISO 639-2 which are considered, for the purposes of the standard, to be "macrolanguages" in 639-3 [ [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/scope.asp#M Scope of denotation: Macrolanguages (sil.org)] ] .
Some of these
macrolanguages had no individual language as defined by 639-3 in ISO 639-2, e.g. 'ara' (Generic Arabic). Others like 'nor' (Norwegian) had their two individual parts ('nno' ( Nynorsk), 'nob' ( Bokmål)) already in 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
* 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)
See [ [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/macrolanguages.asp Macrolanguage Mappings (sil.org)] ] for the complete list.
Some ISO 639-2 codes that are commonly used for languages do not precisely represent a particular language or some related languages (as the above macrolanguages). They are regarded as collective languages (or collectives) [ [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/scope.asp#C Scope of denotation: Collective languages (sil.org)] ] and are excluded from ISO 639-3.
Stages [http://www.iso.org/iso/en/widepages/stagetable.html] :
* 2006-07-14 FDIS
* 2007-02-05 60.60
ISO specifications that recommend ISO 639-3
lexical markup framework
List of ISO 639-3 codes
* [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/ ISO 639-3 Registration Authority]
* [http://linguistlist.org/forms/langs/GetListOfAncientLgs.html Linguist List - List of Ancient and Extinct Languages]
* [http://eikenes.alvestrand.no/pipermail/ietf-languages/2003-November/001589.html explanation by Håvard Hjulstad]
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