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Dear Milicent

Thanks for your useful email. In message <[log in to unmask]>
Milicent Wewerka wrote via [log in to unmask]:

> Perhaps we should have a principle that the "collective" code is
> discontinued (withdrawn, deprecated, etc.) when all constituent
> elements are represented by other codes.

That may indeed be worth considering, for collective codes.
Or alternatively, make one code more specific, as we did for Ndebele.

I think things will want to be assessed also on a case by case basis,
as well as applying a general principle.

Assessing the examples you give:

> I think the problem with the codes for Norwegian arises from the
> existence of three codes.  If one is using codes "nob" and "nno," then
> what does "nor" represent?

Norwegian. I think that most agencies worldwide will tend to use only
"nor."

> A colleague of mine pointed out that a similar situation exists in
> modern Greek with Demotic and Katharevusa usage.  Will we have to deal
> with this situation also?

Not really in practice: both are different orthographies/practices
for modern Greek. The current 3-letter code covers both. Nor does the
use of monotoniko, as opposed to polytoniko, orthography, alter this.

The choices are only Modern Greek, or Ancient Greek, and the codes
for these are obvious.

> When 639-2 was developed, the code "esk" for Eskimo was eliminated
> because the four added codes for Yupik, Greenlandic, Inuktitut, and
> Inupiaq covered all the Eskimo languages.

The 3-letter code "esk" should therefore be reserved in ISO 639-2
usage (i.e. deprecated, but the code not reused for anything else).

> If we have separate codes for the two forms of Mari or the two forms
> of Sorbian, what use would be made of the existing codes for Mari or
> Sorbian?

We could do what was done for Ndebele (in ISO 639-1 coding): the
existing code takes on a more specific meaning, and a new code is
added for the alternative language entity.

Thanks for exploring these points. This 2:1 situation is more general
than we realised, but I think we can have ways of dealing with this
consistently.

Best regards

John Clews

--
John Clews, SESAME Computer Projects, 8 Avenue Rd, Harrogate, HG2 7PG
tel: +44 1423 888 432; fax: + 44 1423 889061;
Email: [log in to unmask]

Committee Chair of  ISO/TC46/SC2: Conversion of Written Languages;
Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC22/WG20: Internationalization;
Committee Member of CEN/TC304: Information and Communications
 Technologies: European Localization Requirements
Committee Member of TS/1: Terminology (UK national member body of
 ISO/TC37: Terminology)
Committee Member of the Foundation for Endangered Languages;
Committee Member of ISO/IEC/JTC1/SC2: Coded Character Sets