- ISO 639-2
ISO 639-2 is the second part of the
ISO 639standard, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. The three-letter codes given for each language in this part of the standard are referred to as "Alpha-3" codes. There are 464 language codes in the list.
U.S. Library of Congressis the registration authority for ISO 639-2 (referred to as ISO 639-2/RA). As registration authority, the LOC receives and reviews proposed changes; they also have representation on the ISO 639-RA Joint Advisory Committee responsible for maintaining the ISO 639 code tables.
Work was begun on the ISO 639-2 standard in
1989, due to the fact that the ISO 639-1standard, which gives two-letter codes for languages, would not be able to accommodate a sufficient number of languages. The ISO 639-2 standard was first released in 1998.
While most languages are given one code by the standard, twenty of the languages described have two three-letter codes, a "bibliographic" code (ISO 639-2/B), which is derived from the English name for the language and was a necessary legacy feature, and a "terminological" code (ISO 639-2/T), which is derived from the native name for the language. Each of these twenty languages is also included in the ISO 639-1 standard. (There were 22 B codes; scc and scr are now deprecated.)
In addition, there are codes for special situations:
*mis is listed as "uncoded languages"
*mul (for multiple languages) is applied when several languages are used and it is not practical to specify all the appropriate language codes
*The interval from qaa to qtz is reserved and is not used in the standard
*und (for undetermined) is used in situations in which a language or languages must be indicated but the language cannot be identified.
*zxx is listed in the code list as "no linguistic content" (added
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) and are excluded from
For a definition of macrolanguages and collective languages see [http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/scope.asp] .
Collective languages and their ISO 639-2 codes are:
Not obviously a collective in 639-2
Bihari (bih) is marked as collective but on the other hand has an ISO 639-1 code (bh) which should only be for individual languages. The reason is that 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.
Obviously intending to cover several languages
*afa Afro-Asiatic (Other)
*tut Altaic (Other)
*map Austronesian (Other)
*bat Baltic (Other)
*bnt Bantu (Other)
*ber Berber (Other)
*cau Caucasian (Other)
*cai Central American Indian (Other)
*crp Creoles and
*cpe Creoles and Pidgins, English-based (Other)
*cpf Creoles and Pidgins, French-based (Other)
*cpp Creoles and Pidgins, Portuguese-based (Other)
*cus Cushitic (Other)
*dra Dravidian (Other)
*fiu Finno-Ugrian (Other)
*gem Germanic (Other)
*inc Indic (Other)
*ine Indo-European (Other)
*ira Iranian (Other)
*khi Khoisan (Other)
*mkh Mon-Khmer (Other)
*nic Niger-Kordofanian (Other)
*ssa Nilo-Saharan (Other)
*nai North American Indian (Other)
*paa Papuan (Other)
*phi Philippine (Other)
*roa Romance (Other)
*sem Semitic (Other)
*sit Sino-Tibetan (Other)
*sla Slavic (Other)
*sai South American Indian (Other)
*tai Tai (Other)
B and T codes
ISO 15924derives their codes from ISO 639-2 and where there are two codes ISO 639-2/B is favored. ISO 639-3uses ISO 639-2/T.
List of ISO 639-2 codes
* [http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/ ISO 639-2/RA Homepage]
* [http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/code_changes.php ISO 639-2/RA Change Notice]
* [http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/normtext.html Details] at
Library of Congresswebsite
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