See below the initial message that was sent through our "ask a
librarian" service, which was forwarded to me and my response.
It is very disturbing that the Polish radio has complete misinformation
about the status of the request for Silesian. Indeed, this was submitted
as a request in 2006, but was deferred pending the approval of 639-3. I
suppose nothing went back to the requester from 639-2, but only from SIL
when it was approved for use in 639-3. So they must have gotten mixed up
about who approved it.
I will also send along the email I wrote to the email address given on the
Polish radio site.
So now I am curious as to what SIL sent the requester about its
approval. Was anything about 639-2 mentioned? I would imagine not, but
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2007 17:11:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Rebecca S. Guenther <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Question about the Library of Congress list of languages
Dear Agnieszka Koszowska:
I had to do some research about this, because Silesian was never added to
the ISO 639-2 list or consequently to the MARC list. There seems to be a
misunderstanding, and we will have to contact the Polish Radio so that
they can correct their information. As you probably know, the MARC
language code list uses the same codes as are on the ISO 639-2 list (in
the few cases where there are 2 codes, it uses the bibliographic codes).
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. Since at the time, we were in the midst of the
balloting for a new standard, ISO 639-3, 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, it was decided to include Silesian in that standard.
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
So it is the case that Silesian was included in 639-3, but NOT in 639-2,
and thus is not available as a MARC language code. Somehow the Polish
radio was confused-- I am not sure why, because the Library of Congress
never approved it (which would have only been through the 639-2
process). That is why you have found no documentation at the Library of
Congress website about its approval.
For further information, the criteria for 639-2 is here:
The documentation for 639-3 is here:
and the decision for Silesian:
(see that the effective date on the approval of Silesian is July 2007).
I will need to contact Polish radio about this. If you have any other
questions, please feel free to ask me.
^^ Rebecca S. Guenther ^^
^^ Chair, ISO 639-2 Maintenance Agency ^^
^^ Senior Networking and Standards Specialist ^^
^^ Library of Congress ^^
^^ Washington, DC 20540-4402 ^^
^^ (202) 707-5092 (voice) (202) 707-0115 (FAX) ^^
^^ [log in to unmask] ^^
> Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 19:34:31 +0200 (CEST)
> From: [log in to unmask]
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Question about the Library of Congress list of languages
> Dear Sir / Madam,
> I have found in the Polish Radio WWW pages
> (http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=56141) that the
> Silesian language has been added to the Library of Congress list of
> languages. As I was not able to find this information on the Library of
> Congress Web pages, I would be very grateful for any details on the
> I checked the online version of the Marc Language Codes and did not find
> the Silesian language in it. On the site with changes to the 2003 Edition
> of the MARC Code for Languages there is a date of the update - 10/18/2006.
> Has the Silesian language been added to the list, but the information is
> not currently available in the online version? And if so, when the updated
> list will be available on the Internet?
> I have asked the question using the "Ask a librarian" service and directed
> it to the Digital Reference Team. They suggested that I should contact the
> Network Development and MARC Standards Office, so this is why I am writing
> to you.
> I will be very grateful for any assistance.
> Below I enclose the history of the question.
> Yours sincerely
> Agnieszka Koszowska
> The Silesian Library
> Katowice, Poland