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We had this discussion while we were developing MODS in Dec. 2002-- see
the archives. I don't see any reason to rehash it. There was support for
allowing for both of these standards for encoding language.

ISO 639-2 IS a standard and widely used. It provides for many more
languages than ISO 639-1. Libraries have been using what is ISO 639-2 for
over 30 years in all flavors of MARC and this must be supported. The RFC
may alternatively be used.

I can give more information on the difference between the two, but it
might be sufficient just to look at the archives.

Rebecca

On Mon, 17 Jan 2005, Andrew E Switala wrote:

> Ack, speaking of not realizing things, I thought Internet language
> specifications were based on ISO 639-1 with an optional country code
> (e.g. en-US). Checking RFC 3066, I see this is not the case; xml:lang
> can be used for two-letter or three-letter language codes and more:
> ""
>    - All 2-letter subtags are interpreted according to assignments found
>      in ISO standard 639, "Code for the representation of names of
>      languages" [ISO 639], or assignments subsequently made by the ISO
>      639 part 1 maintenance agency or governing standardization bodies.
>      (Note: A revision is underway, and is expected to be released as
>      ISO 639-1:2000)
>
>    - All 3-letter subtags are interpreted according to assignments found
>      in ISO 639 part 2, "Codes for the representation of names of
>      languages -- Part 2: Alpha-3 code [ISO 639-2]", or assignments
>      subsequently made by the ISO 639 part 2 maintenance agency or
>      governing standardization bodies.
>
>    - The value "i" is reserved for IANA-defined registrations
>
>    - The value "x" is reserved for private use.  Subtags of "x" shall
>      not be registered by the IANA.
>
>    - Other values shall not be assigned except by revision of this
>      standard.
> ""
> So I must agree, the MODS lang attribute can go.
>
> --Andy
>
> >>> [log in to unmask] 01/17/05 1:31 PM >>>
> On Jan 17, 2005, at 12:46 PM, Andrew E Switala wrote:
>
> > MODS guidelines say the lang attribute's value comes from ISO 639-2
> > bibliographic.
>
> I didn't realize this.
>
> > (The former is valid for the xml:lang attribute; why MODS has two
> > different language attributes is another matter.)
>
> But an important one. I don't understand this sort of thing.  Why not
> just use THE xml standard for language coding, instead of once again
> relying on library-specific stuff?
>
> Bruce
>