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Criteria for ISO 639-1

The following criteria for defining new languages in ISO 639-1 has been established by the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee.

  • Relation to ISO 639-2. Since ISO 639-1 is to remain a subset of ISO 639-2, it must first satisfy the requirements for ISO 639-2 and also satisfy the following.
  • Documentation.
    • a significant body of existing documents (specialized texts, such as college or university textbooks, technical documentation manuals, specialized journals, subject-field related books, etc.) written in specialized languages
    • a number of existing terminologies in various subject fields (e.g. technical dictionaries, specialized glossaries, vocabularies, etc. in printed or electronic form)
  • Recommendation.A recommendation and support of a specialized authority (such as a standards organization, governmental body, linguistic institution, or cultural organization)
  • Other considerations
    • the number of speakers of the language community
    • the recognized status of the language in one or more countries
    • the support of the request by one or more official bodies
  • Collective codes. ISO 639-1 does not use collective codes. If these are necessary the alpha-3 code shall be used.

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October 18, 2010