Comparing ISO 639 JAC N5 to ISO 639-2, it is clear that just as with
Ndebele, which the JAC sorted out in Washington, into:

         639-2        639-1      Language name
          nde          nd   *    Ndebele, North (Sindebele, Tebele)
          nbl          nr        Ndebele, South (Nrebele)

(formerly single Ndebele code in ISO 639-1, and two in ISO 639-2)

there is a similar situation (in reverse) for the two Mari languages,
as for the two Ndebele languages: there are different entities in the
(deferred) ISO 639-1 proposals and ISO 639-2:

         639-2        639-1      Language name
          chm          --        Mari
      --- --- ---     (mj)       Mari, Meadow
      --- --- ---     (mm)       Mari, Mountain

The two Mari languages used in Mari El are normally regarded as
distinct languages, just as are the various Sami languages, and
Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, and they are not as mutually
intelligible as Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian, or even as Hindi and

There are only two Mari languages. Much to my surprise, I cannot find
any mention of either Mari language listed in the Ethnologue, unless
I just missed it, and have no statistics.

Both are listed separately, and with differing orthographies, in the
"ALA-LC romanization tables : transliteration schemes for non-roman
scripts : tables" / compiled and edited by Randall K. Barry.
Washington, D.C. : LC CDS [Library of Congress, Cataloging
Distribution Service], 1997. ISBN 0-8444-0940-5 (p. 126-127).

So that we can solve these, as we did with Ndebele, could ISO 639 JAC
members try their library or linguistic contacts in libraries,
institutions, Mari El, elsewhere in the Russian Federation, etc. who
may cover - Uralic languages; - Finno-Ugric languages; - Finno-Permic
languages; or - Finno-Volgaic languages (increasing in specificity in
that direction) to ascertain whether Hill Mari or Meadow Mari is more
widely used, then one Mari language can receive a separate existing
ISO 639-2 code, and the ISO 639 JAC can decide whether to allocate a
separate ISO 639-2 code to the other Mari language.

I shall try my best: I look forward to any information from any of
the rest of you

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