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ISO 639-5: Wikis


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ISO 639-5:2008, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 5: Alpha-3 code for language families and groups, is an international standard in the ISO 639 series, developed by ISO/TC 37/SC 2. The international standard was published on 2008-05-15.

This part of the ISO 639 series defines alpha-3 (3 letter) codes for language families and groups, called collective codes. Some of its codes are contained in ISO 639-2, and some are only in ISO 639-5. As of the update on 2008-10-29 there were 114 codes defined. It does not cover all language families that are used by linguists. Furthermore, the languages covered by a group code need not be linguistically related, but may have a geographic relation, or category relation (such as creoles).

ISO 639-2, part 2, contains codes for some individual languages, some macrolanguage codes, and some collective codes. So any code in part 2 is either in part 3 or in part 5. Languages, families, or group codes in ISO 639-2 can be of type "group" (g) or "rest group" (r), where a "group" consists of several related languages, while a "rest group" is a group of several related languages, from which some specific languages have been excluded. In ISO 639-5, the "rest groups" have been redefined to cover its entire group; thus, their meaning cannot be ascertained without knowing whether they are used in their ISO 639-2 meaning or their ISO 639-5 meaning.

Examples of the relation to ISO 639-2:

  • has ISO 639-2 code, is rest group (r):
    • e.g. afa in 639-2 it covers only "Afro-Asiatic languages (Other)", in 639-5 it covers all "Afro-Asiatic languages"
  • has ISO 639-2 code, is normal group (g):
  • no ISO 639-2 code (-):

The list is nowhere near a complete one, however. One organization that is attempting to collect a full list of codes for language groups is the *LINGUIST List, to be found in their *MultiTree Project.


  • The CD was issued on 2005-02-23, voting terminating on 2005-07-05. The CD has been approved.
  • In 2006 the publication target of the final standard had been 2007-10-30. But the two months lasting ISO/FDIS ballot during the approval stage of the standard was not initiated until 2008-02-08.
  • On 2008-04-10 that voting has been finished (stage 50.60).

See also

External links



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