Dear Milicent

Thanks for the clarification. This removes any ambiguities.

In message  <[log in to unmask]> you replied via [log in to unmask]:

> Regarding the distinction between Ethiopic and Geez, the MARC list
> gives Ethiopic with a reference from Geez, indicating that for puposes
> of that list, the terms refer to the same language.  In the Library of
> Congress Subject Headings, the term "Ethiopic language" is used for
> Geez and the term "Ethiopian languages" is used for the Semitic
> languages of Ethiopia.

I note that ISO 639-2 uses only the term Geez, and does not use
Ethiopic, so there is no ambivalance there.

However, there is scope for ambiguity in the MARC codes (I just
checked the ASCII version of the HTML file). The term "Ethiopic
language" is not ambiguous, and the usage in LCSH is also not
ambiguous, but the similar terms in general use could enable users to
become sloppy with its use.

Given the similarity of the terms "Ethiopic language", "Ethiopian
languages", and the increasingly predominant use of the term
"Ethiopic" to refer to the script, irrespective of the language(s) it
is used for at any one time, you might like to consider the

When you next update the MARC language ocde tables, it may be that
you might wish to consider replacing the langauge name "Ethiopic"
with "Geez" to avoid any ambiguity, and for further compatibility
with ISO 639-2. People can easily find the specific name Geez in any
dictionary if they unclear.

As the situation for the 3-letter code "eth" is now crystal clear (it
refers to the Geez language), is there any reaction from ISO/TC37/SC2
aficionados to my other comment:

> In passing (a less essential part of my query), has Ge'ez every been
> considered for ISO 639-1? It has a larger corpus than Avestan, for
> instance, I would guess, which was agreed to be added in Washington.

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