SC22/WG20 N721

November 11, 1999



Liaison statement from ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG20 to ISO/TC37


WG20 - Internationalization - uses language codes from ISO 639 in its standards, and also represents a user community that makes considerable use of language codes in various implementations.


WG20 notes that ISO/TC37 develops ISO 639 and 639-1, and that ISO 639-2 is developed jointly with ISO/TC46. WG20 also notes that each standard has a maintenance agency, and that there is a Joint Advisory Committee covering ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2. This liaison statement is addressed primarily to ISO/TC37, but WG20 will also welcome replies from other bodies mentioned here.


WG20 requests feedback on the following points:


1. WG20 asks for a copy of the relevant procedures related to the maintenance of the various parts of ISO 639.


2. WG20 considers that stability of language codes is important.   WG20 notes some reassignment of codes in recent years (e.g. "he" to "iw" for Hebrew) in ISO 639-1. WG20 asks for confirmation that no more code reassignments occur, in order to avoid conflicts in implementations.


3. WG20 notes that ISO 3166 codes (including updates) are available on the Internet, and asks for consideration of a bilingual (English/French) list of codes from both parts of ISO 639 on the Internet.





Replies should be sent to


Arnold F. Winkler (Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG20) Unisys B203-14 Swedesford Road Malvern, PA 19355 USA Tel:   610-648-2055 Fax:   610-695-5473
Email: <>


Correspondence can also be sent to ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG20's liaison officer to ISO/TC37,
Keld Simonsen <>.