Language code

Listing Category

A language code is a code that assigns letters and/or numbers as identifiers or classifiers for languages. These codes may be used to organize library collections or presentations of data, to choose the correct localizations and translations in computing, and as a shorthand designation for longer forms of language-name.

Language code schemes attempt to classify within the complex world of human languages, dialects, and variants. Most schemes make some compromises between being general and being complete enough to support specific dialects.

For example, most people in Central America and South America speak Spanish. Spanish spoken in Mexico will be slightly different from Spanish spoken in Peru. Different regions of Mexico will have slightly different dialects and accents of Spanish. A language code scheme might group these all as "Spanish" for choosing a keyboard layout, most as "Spanish" for general usage, or separate each dialect to allow region-specific idioms.
Common schemes
Some common language code schemes include:


Codes for English
Codes for Spanish

Created for minority languages as a scientific alternative to the industrial ISO 639€‘3 standard.
Intentionally do not resemble abbreviations.

stan1293 €“ standard English
macr1271 €“ macro-English (Modern English, incl. creoles)
midd1317 €“ Middle English
merc1242 €“ Mercian (Middle €“ Modern English)
olde1238 €“ Old English
angl1265 €“ Anglian (Old €“ Modern English, incl. Scots)

stan1288 €“ standard Spanish
olds1249 €“ Old Spanish
cast1243 €“ Castilic (Old €“ Modern Spanish, incl. Extremaduran & creoles)

IETF language tag
An IETF best practice, currently specified by RFC 5646 and RFC 4647, for language tags easy to parse by computer. The tag system is extensible to region, dialect, and private designations.

en €“ English, as shortest ISO 639 code.
en-US €“ English as used in the United States (US is the ISO 3166€‘1 country code for the United States)

(source: IETF memo[1])

es €“ Spanish, as shortest ISO 639 code.
es-419 €“ Spanish appropriate for the Latin America and Caribbean region, using the UN M.49 region code

ISO 639
The original ISO standard from 1967 to 2002. Now obsolete, it was replaced by ISO 639€‘1, ISO 639€‘2, and ISO 639€‘3. Sometimes used as a shorthand for the union of all 639 standard codes.

eng €“ three-letter code
enm €“ Middle English, c. 1100€“1500
ang €“ Old English, c. 450€“1100
cpe €“ other English-based creoles and pidgins
EN €“ English or American two-letter capital code

(source: Library of Congress[2])

esl €“ three-letter code
spa €“ alternative three-letter code
ES €“ Spanish two-letter capital code

ISO 639€‘1
Two-letter code system made official in 2002, containing 136 codes. Many systems use two-letter ISO 639€‘1 codes supplemented by three-letter ISO 639€‘2 codes when no two-letter code is applicable.


(from List of ISO 639€‘1 codes)

es €“ Spanish

ISO 639€‘2
Three-letter system of 464 codes.

eng €“ three-letter code
enm €“ Middle English, c. 1100€“1500
ang €“ Old English, c. 450€“1100
cpe €“ other English-based creoles and pidgins

(from List of ISO 639€‘2 codes)

spa €“ Spanish

ISO 639€‘3
An extension of ISO 639€‘2 to cover all known, living or dead, spoken or written languages in 7,589 entries.

eng €“ three-letter code
enm €“ Middle English, c. 1100€“1500
aig €“ Antigua and Barbuda Creole English
ang €“ Old English, c. 450€“1100
svc €“ Vincentian Creole English

(from List of ISO 639€‘3 codes)

spa €“ Spanish
spq €“ Spanish, Loreto-Ucayali
ssp €“ Spanish sign language

Two-digit + one to six letter Linguasphere code system published in 2000, updated 2010, containing over 32,000 codes.
(within hierarchy of Linguasphere-2010 codes, as follows:)

5= Indo-European phylosector
52= Germanic phylozone
52-A Germanic set
52-AB English + Anglo-Creole chain
52-ABA English
Global English
outer unit
52-ABA-ca to
(186 varieties)

compare: 52-ABA-a Scots + Northumbrian
outer unit &
52-ABA-b "Anglo-English" outer unit
(= South Great Britain traditional varieties + Old Anglo-Irish)
(within hierarchy of Linguasphere-2010 codes, as follows:)

5= Indo-European phylosector
51= Romanic phylozone
51-A Romance set
51-AA Romance chain
51-AAA West Romance net
51-AAA-b Español/Castellano
outer unit
51-AAA-ba to
(58 varieties)

compare: 51-AAA-a Português + Galego outer unit &
51-AAA-c Astur + Leonés outer unit, etc.

SIL codes(10th€“14th editions)
Codes created for use in the Ethnologue, a publication of SIL International that lists language statistics. The publication now uses ISO 639€‘3 codes.

VerbixLanguage Codes
Constructed codes starting with old SIL codes and adding more information.[3]

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