It is a guiding principle that we do not change identifiers, and I think
we need to stick to that. We have told many people (the Croatians come to
mind) that the identifier is not an abbreviation for the language name and
that we do not change identifiers that we have previously used.

Perhaps when we consider the next published update to ISO 639 we could add
notes. How this would be done would need to be carefully considered, since
I doubt anyone would have the time to go through the standard and
determine where notes are needed. It would probably have to be done as
they arise, but then it may be misleading when many languages could
benefit from a note, but a comprehensive overview to add these might be


On Sun, 9 Jan 2005, Christian Galinski wrote:

> Having read the various comments, I think that the clean-up relates to 
> - the names
> - the scopes
> - the distinction of language and dialects...
> I see no necessity to change an identifier (of course in the notes to
> the change it must be made clear that there was a process of
> clarification). We had argued on many occasions that "code consistency"
> is not a stringent reason for changing an identifier.
> Rgds
> Christian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
> Of Peter Constable
> Sent: Freitag, 17. Dezember 2004 21:14
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: RE: Réf. : Re: Occitan and ISO 639-3 : French linguistics
> position
> > From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On 
> > Behalf Of Anila Angjeli
> > I'm proposing some "clean-up" actions regarding occitan...
> I have had your message of Sept 21 tagged as needing attention, but
> never found time to make it high enough priority. Your message today has
> prompted me to act -- my apologies for putting this off.
> Just a note: this relates to issue 4.10 in the "Issues to Resolve"
> document (with many other open issues needing action by the JAC as soon
> as possible).
> The expert input from Patrick Sauzet is very valuable. In my role as
> editor for ISO 639-3, I have no particular bias regarding whether or not
> to include entries for Auvergnat, etc. In my role as SIL liaison, I have
> submitted Patrick's input to the Ethnologue staff and await their
> comments. As an individual member of the JAC, I find Patrick's comments
> reasonably convincing, but inasmuch as I also sit in the liaison role I
> don't feel I can make any decision regarding removal of the six
> contested entries in the draft table for ISO 639-3 until I have heard
> back from Ethnologue staff.
> Regarding the proposed change to names, I have no objection to changing
> the name associated with "pro" to "Occitan, Old (to 1500)".  The
> proposed change of name for "oci" is trickier. (Of course, the proposed
> change presumes agreement on removing Auvergnat, etc. from the draft
> table for ISO 639-3, which as noted I cannot yet form an opinion on. My
> comments that follow will assume this decision has been agreed upon,
> however.) 
> IMO, alternate names listed for a given entry should be alternate labels
> for the same entity. But I don't think the suggestion here is that
> (e.g.) "Auvergnat Occitan" and "Gascon Occitan" are the same thing. I
> think it would be confusing and not a good precedent to list names of
> distinct dialects as alternate language names. Thus, I would not support
> the proposed name change in this case. 
> Of course, this leaves open the need to clarify the intended meaning of
> "oci" and it's relationship to the varieties referred to as "Auvergnat"
> etc. This is just an instance of a more general problem in ISO 639,
> however: a few names are not always adequate to indicate what the
> intended meaning is, and what the expectations on usage are. There
> simply are cases where more information is necessary (a point Gary
> Simons and I made in a paper back in 2000). 
> One possibility for ISO 639-3 is that each entry in the code table
> points to an entry in the Ethnologue or other sources to provide
> background information that would make clear what the intended
> denotation is. At a minimum, a "comments" field is needed, and might be
> a useful addition for the ISO 639 code tables. If there were a comments
> field, then that is where I would indicate for the "oci" ID,
> "Encompasses Auvergnat, Gascon, Languedocien, Provençal, Shaudit,
> Vivaroalpine."
> With regard to the proposed change of identifier for Old Provençal / Old
> Occitan, I strongly object. Stability of identifiers is far more
> important than a mnemonic relationship to preferred language names, or
> than having similar identifiers for closely-related languages. If this
> were to be changed, we would be subject to a very high level of flak
> from several parties. 
> Peter Constable