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ISO639-2

ISO 639/Joint Advisory Committee (ISO 639/JAC)

The ISO 639/Joint Advisory Committee (ISO 639/JAC) has been established to advise both the ISO 639-1/RA Registration Authority and the ISO 639-2/RA Registration Authority on the two parts of the International Standard on language codes, Codes for the representation of names of languages-- Part 1: alpha-2 code and Codes for the representation of names of languages-- Part 2: alpha-3 code. The ISO 639/JAC guides the application of the coding rules as laid down in both standards. It is composed of three representatives of ISO TC37, three representatives of TC46 and a representative from each Registration Authority.

In February 2007 a third ISO standard was approved for coding languages. ISO 639-3 was devised to provide a comprehensive set of identifiers for all languages for use in a wide range of applications, including linguistics, lexicography and internationalization of information systems and is maintained by SIL International. It attempts to represent all known languages, while ISO 639-1 and 639-2 require certain criteria to be met in terms of language usage. In cases where an individual language does not meet the criteria in ISO 639-2, it is assigned to a group identifier.

The three-letter codes in ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 are complementary and compatible. The two codes have been devised for different purposes. The set of individual languages listed in ISO 639-2 is a subset of those listed in ISO 639-3. The codes differ in that ISO 639-2 includes code elements representing some individual languages and also collections of languages, while ISO 639-3 includes code elements for all known individual languages but not for collections of languages. Overall, the set of individual languages listed in ISO 639-3 is much larger than the set of individual languages listed in ISO 639-2.

The ISO 639 JAC will coordinate the development of the parts of the ISO 639 family of standards. For further information about the relationship between the parts of ISO 639, see http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/relationship.asp

This is the official site of the ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee and thus is the only one authorized by ISO. If you have questions concerning ISO 639 please contact us at:

Library of Congress
Network Development and MARC Standards Office
Washington, DC 20540-4402
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: +1 202 707 6237
FAX: +1 202 707 0115

For general discussion about ISO language codes, write to: [email protected]

ISO 639-2 Registration Authority Home Page

ISO 639-1 Registration Authority Home Page


ISO 639-3 Registration Authority Home Page

ISO 639 code lists

Additions/Changes to ISO 639 Codes

Request form for additions to language codes

Criteria for requesting new language codes

ISO 639 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Working principles for ISO 639 maintenance

Comments on this document: [email protected]



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October 18, 2010