ISO 639 Language codes

Coding Languages

The language codes are open lists that can be extended and refined. The job of maintaining these standards has been given to bodies known as Registration Authorities.

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Part 1 (ISO 639-1:2002) provides a 2 letter code that has been designed to represent most of the major languages of the world.

Codes for the representation of names of languages

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ISO 639 is composed of five different parts

Codes for the representation of names of languages

Part 5 (ISO 639-5:2008) provides a 3 letter code for language families and groups (living and extinct).

Part 4 (ISO 639-4:2010) gives the general principles of language coding and lays down guidelines for the use of ISO 639.

Details of the Registration Authorities for ISO 639 can be found in the list ofRegistration Authorities and Maintenance Agencies.

Part 2 (ISO 639-2:1998) provides a 3 letter code, which gives more possible combinations, so ISO 639-2:1998 can cover more languages.

International Organization for Standardization

Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages

ISO 639 is the International Standard for language codes. The purpose of ISO 639 is to establish internationally recognised codes (either 2, 3, or 4 letters long) for the representation of languages or language families.

Part 3 (ISO 639-3:2007) provides a 3 letter code and aims to give as complete a listing of languages as possible, including living, extinct and ancient languages.

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Part 4: General principles of coding of the representation of names of languages and related entities, and application guidelines

Using a code rather than the name of a language has many benefits as some languages are referred to by different groups in different ways, and two unrelated languages may share the same or similar name.

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Codes for the representation of names of languages

A set of processes that show your product, service or system meets the requirements of a standard.

Codes for the representation of names of languages

These codes are widely used in many different disciplines, for example for bibliographic purposes, in the library community, as well as for computerized systems, and the representation of different language versions on websites.

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