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Dear JAC members,

Most of you will probably have noticed that there is a discussion going on
in various fora about the unstability of ISO 3166 (country codes). The
concrete example is the re-use of CS (previously Czechoslovakia, now Serbia
and Montenegro).

The development of ISO 3166 is obviously outside the scope of the JAC.
However, since there are normative references to ISO 3166 in ISO 639, it may
be appropriate for us to voice an opinion on the behalf of the JAC (and not
"just" as individual experts).

I am not sure of the size of the problem in this particular case, but there
may be items that are coded xx-CS (meaning the language "xx" as used in
Czechoslovakia). Such items now are erroneous.

Note that we do not challenge the need to modify country identifiers.
Political changes do make that necessary. It is the re-use that is the
problem.

If there is consensus in the JAC, I would suggest that we formulate a
comment to the effect that re-use of identifiers should be avoided since
such re-use causes problems and confusion for applications using ISO 639.
(Which are the only problems that the JAC needs to be concerned about.)

Best regards,
Håvard

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Håvard Hjulstad    mailto:[log in to unmask]
Chairman ISO/TC37 (Terminology and other language resources)
Convener of ISO/TC37/SC2/WG1 (Language coding)
Acting chairman of ISO 639 RA-JAC
  Solfallsveien 31
  NO-1430  Ås, Norway
  tel: +47 64963684
  fax: +47 64944233
  mob: +47 90145563
  http://www.hjulstad.com/havard/
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