When 639-3 was first being developed, there were no hard and fast criteria for how macrolanguages would get constituted. All that was clear was that macrolanguages were warranted in cases in which there had been ambiguities of usage--sometimes assuming one language and sometimes assuming more than one. Some of the macrolanguage cases were necessitated by MARC usage in which the same ID was used for a dominant variety but also "as a collective" for other related but less developed varieties. Sometimes, an entry had come into 639-2 from MARC as though there were one language (e.g. "Cree") but when there clearly are multiple distinct languages (a reality reflected in Ethnologue 14, which was a source for drafts of 639-3). And sometimes an entry had come into 639-2 from MARC which was simply ambiguous and I was left trying to make sense how best to map it to entities in Ethnologue 14 (e.g., "Rajasthani", "Lahnda", "Marwari"). 

In the case of [syr], MARC describes it as being used for "Modern Syriac" or "Neo-Syriac". I don't recall now for what reasons it was decided to map that to only [aii] and [cld]. If there are good reasons to consider broadening the scope of [syr] to include other related, modern varieties, that can certainly be considered.

Aside from Turoyo being referred to "modern Syriac" in a particular publication, it would be useful to know what practical benefits there would be of including it within the denotation of [syr]. (If it were included in the [syr] macrolanguage, it would continue to representable using [tru].) An example of such an argument might be, "It is written in Syriac script, and there are widely-used software implementations using [syr] and applying it to content in that script, a significant portion of which is in the Turoyo variety."


-----Original Message-----
From: ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of ISO639-3
Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 12:42 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: possible addition to Syriac Macrolanguage

Dear JAC members,

I have recently received a request to add Turoyo to the Syriac macrolanguage. It is referred to as "modern Syriac" in a recent publication (Brock, S.P. 2006. An Introduction to Syriac studies. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press. ISBN 1-59333-349-8, p.1).

In looking into this request, I was curious to know how the current two languages were incorporated into Syriac as a macrolanguage, while some other related languages were not. Does this need further discussion and processing to determine the languages which should be included? 

In any case, I need to respond the the Turoyo request, and would like your input.


Melinda Lyons
ISO 639-3 RA
SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd.
Dallas, TX 75236