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ISOJAC  August 2007

ISOJAC August 2007

Subject:

Fwd: Silesian (fwd)

From:

"Rebecca S. Guenther" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Aug 2007 15:51:25 -0400

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (81 lines)

Here's what I wrote. Note the website (different than the one in the
message from the person at the Silesian library:
http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=56383

>>> Rebecca S Guenther 08/06/07 3:40 PM >>>
To whom it may concern at Polish Radio:
 
It was brought to our attention in an email from someone at the Silesian
Library in Katowice that there is a webpage on your site which announces
that the Library of Congress has included the Silesian language in its
list of languages. This is NOT the correct information, and I hope that
you will correct the error. The webpage that I am referring to is at:
http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=56383 
 
The language code list that I think you are referring to in this
announcement is either the ISO 639-2 list (for which the Library of
Congress is maintenance agency) or the MARC language code list (which uses
the same codes as those in the ISO 639-2 list and is also maintained by
the Library of Congress).  There is a process for updating ISO 639-2 and
those changes are then also incorporated in the MARC list. As for
Silesian, there was a request to include it in 639-2 in 2006. At the time
of the request, ISO/TC37 was in the midst of the balloting for a new
standard, ISO 639-3, so the request was delayed and it was considered for
inclusion in 639-3.  After ISO 639-3 was approved as an international
standard and the pending requests were considered for inclusion in that
standard, it was decided to include Silesian.  The Summer Institute of
Linguistics (SIL) is the maintenance agency for 639-3 (NOT the Library of
Congress).
 
ISO 639-3 is intended to code all known individual languages. A
determination has to be made whether the language is a dialect or an
individual language, because dialects are coded with the same code as its
major language. Apparently the decision was made to include Silesian as a
separate language. ISO 639-2 has criteria for inclusion, and a language
has to have widespread usage to warrant a code along with satisfying other
criteria. It is not clear whether Silesian meets the criteria for 639-2.

At this time the decision has been made to include Silesian in ISO 639-3,
but NOT in 639-2, so it is incorrect to say that the Library of Congress
has recognized Silesian and includes it in its language code list.  I am
not sure where your information came from.
 
For further information, the criteria for ISO 639-2 is here:
http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/criteria2.html 
 
The documentation for ISO 639-3 is here:
http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/default.asp 
and the decision for Silesian:
http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/documentation.asp?id=szl 
(see that the effective date on the approval of Silesian is July 2007).
 
I hope you will make the necessary corrections on your website, especially
in the following (last paragraph):
 
"The press office of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration which
includes the National Minorities Division did not return calls for a
comment. The fact that the Silesian language has been entered into the
list of languages of the US Library of Congress does not have the virtue
of a decree but because of the prestige of this institution it has a
meaning which may translate for example into an increased interest in
cultivating such a language. While making a selection the US Congress
Library also takes into account the number of publications in a given
language proving that it does not exist only in its oral form. According
to its estimates, people around the world use several thousand languages
with 800 of them having a written form as well. As of now one them is
Silesian."
 
Please let me know if you have any questions.
 
Rebecca Guenther

Rebecca S. Guenther                                                       
 Senior Networking and Standards Specialist                  
 Network Development and MARC Standards Office     
 Library of Congress   
 101 Independence Ave. SE                                       
 Washington, DC 20540                                                      
 Washington, DC 20540-4402                                          
 (202) 707-5092 (voice)    (202) 707-0115 (FAX)           
 [log in to unmask]

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