ISO 639 macrolanguage

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A macrolanguage is a book-keeping mechanism for the ISO 639 international standard for language codes. Macrolanguages are established to assist mapping between different sets of ISO language codes. Specifically, there may be a many-to-one correspondence between ISO 639-3, intended to identify all the thousands of languages of the world, and either of two other sets, ISO 639-1, established to identify languages in computer systems, and ISO 639-2, which encodes a few hundred languages for library cataloguing and bibliographic purposes. When such many-to-one ISO 639-2 codes are included in an ISO 639-3 context, they are called "macrolanguages" to distinguish them from the corresponding individual languages of ISO 639-3.[1] According to the ISO,

Some existing code elements in ISO 639-2, and the corresponding code elements in ISO 639-1, are designated in those parts of ISO 639 as individual language code elements, yet are in a one-to-many relationship with individual language code elements in [ISO 639-3]. For purposes of [ISO 639-3], they are considered to be macrolanguage code elements.

— ISO 639-3: Relationship between ISO 639-3 and the other parts of ISO 639[2]

ISO 639-3 is curated by SIL International, ISO 639-2 is curated by the Library of Congress (USA).

The mapping often has the implication that it covers borderline cases where two language varieties may be considered strongly divergent dialects of the same language or very closely related languages (dialect continuums); it may also encompass situations when there are language varieties that are considered to be varieties of the same language on the grounds of ethnic, cultural, and political considerations, rather than linguistic reasons. However, this is not its primary function and the classification is not evenly applied.

For example, Chinese is a macrolanguage encompassing many languages that are not mutually intelligible, but the languages "Standard German", "Bavarian German", and other closely related languages do not form a macrolanguage, despite being more mutually intelligible. Other examples include Tajiki not being part of the Persian macrolanguage despite sharing much lexicon, and Urdu and Hindi not forming a macrolanguage despite forming a mutually intelligible dialect continuum. Even all dialects of Hindi are considered as separate languages. Basically, ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 use different criteria for dividing language varieties into languages, 639-2 uses shared writing systems and literature more whereas 639-3 focuses on mutual intelligibility and shared lexicon. The macrolanguages exist within the ISO 639-3 code set to make mapping between the two sets easier.

The use of macrolanguages was applied in Ethnologue, starting in the 16th edition.[3] As of 2019, there are fifty-eight language codes in ISO 639-2 that are counted as macrolanguages in ISO 639-3,[4] but new macrolanguages are no longer being created, as current databases are sufficient to indicated the relationships between codes.

Some of the macrolanguages had no individual language (as defined by 639-3) in ISO 639-2, e.g. "ara" (Arabic), but ISO 639-3 recognizes different varieties of Arabic as separate languages under some circumstances. Others, like "nor" (Norwegian) had their two individual parts (nno Nynorsk, nob Bokmål) already in 639-2. That means some languages (e.g. "arb" Standard Arabic) that were considered by ISO 639-2 to be dialects of one language ("ara") are now in ISO 639-3 in certain contexts considered to be individual languages themselves. This is an attempt to deal with varieties that may be linguistically distinct from each other, but are treated by their speakers as forms of the same language, e.g. in cases of diglossia. For example,

  • Generic Arabic, 639-2[5]
  • Standard Arabic, 639-3[6]

ISO 639-2 also includes codes for collections of languages; these are not the same as macrolanguages. These collections of languages are excluded from ISO 639-3, because they never refer to individual languages. Most such codes are included in ISO 639-5.

Types of macrolanguages[edit]

  • elements that have no ISO 639-2 code: 4 (bnc, hbs, kln, luy)
  • elements that have no ISO 639-1 code: 29
  • elements that do have ISO 639-1 codes: 33
  • elements whose individual languages have ISO 639-1 codes: 4
    • aka – tw
    • hbs – bs, hr, sr
    • msa – id
    • nor – nb, nn

List of macrolanguages[edit]

This list only includes official data from https://iso639-3.sil.org/code_tables/macrolanguage_mappings/data.

ISO 639-1 ISO 639-2 ISO 639-3 Number of individual languages Name of macrolanguage
ak aka aka 2 Akan language
ar ara ara 29 + retired 1 Arabic language
ay aym aym 2 Aymara language
az aze aze 2 Azerbaijani language
(-) bal bal 3 Baluchi language
(-) bik bik 8 + retired 1 Bikol language
(-) (-) bnc 5 Bontok language
(-) bua bua 3 Buriat language
(-) chm chm 2 Mari language (Russia)
cr cre cre 6 Cree language
(-) del del 2 Delaware language
(-) den den 2 Slavey language (Athapascan)
(-) din din 5 Dinka language
(-) doi doi 2 Dogri language
et est est 2 Estonian language
fa fas/per fas 2 Persian language
ff ful ful 9 Fulah language
(-) gba gba 6 + retired 1 Gbaya language (Central African Republic)
(-) gon gon 3 + retired 1 Gondi language
(-) grb grb 5 Grebo language
gn grn grn 5 Guaraní language
(-) hai hai 2 Haida language
(-)[7] (-) hbs 4 Serbo-Croatian
(-) hmn hmn 25 + retired 1 Hmong language
iu iku iku 2 Inuktitut language
ik ipk ipk 2 Inupiaq language
(-) jrb jrb 5 Judeo-Arabic languages
kr kau kau 3 Kanuri language
(-) (-) kln 9 Kalenjin languages
(-) kok kok 2 Konkani language
kv kom kom 2 Komi language
kg kon kon 3 Kongo language
(-) kpe kpe 2 Kpelle language
ku kur kur 3 Kurdish language
(-) lah lah 7 + retired 1 Lahnda language
lv lav lav 2 Latvian language
(-) (-) luy 14 Luyia language
(-) man man 6 + retired 1 Manding languages
mg mlg mlg 11 + retired 1 Malagasy language
mn mon mon 2 Mongolian language
ms msa/may msa 36 + retired 1 Malay language
(-) mwr mwr 6 Marwari language
ne nep nep 2 Nepali language
no nor nor 2 Norwegian language
oj oji oji 7 Ojibwa language
or ori ori 2 Oriya language
om orm orm 4 Oromo language
ps pus pus 3 Pashto language
qu que que 43 + retired 1 Quechua language
(-) raj raj 6 Rajasthani language
(-) rom rom 7 Romany language
sq sqi/alb sqi 4 Albanian language
sc srd srd 4 Sardinian language
sw swa swa 2 Swahili language
(-) syr syr 2 Syriac language
(-) tmh tmh 4 Tuareg languages
uz uzb uzb 2 Uzbek language
yi yid yid 2 Yiddish language
(-) zap zap 57 + retired 1 Zapotec language
za zha zha 16 + retired 2 Zhuang languages
zh zho/chi zho 14 Chinese language
(-) zza zza 2 Zaza language
33 58 62 438 + retired 13 total codes
ISO 639-1 ISO 639-2 ISO 639-3 Number of individual languages Name of macrolanguage

List of macrolanguages and the individual languages[edit]

This is a complete list of the individual language codes that comprise the macrolanguages in the ISO 639-3 code tables as of 8 April 2019.[8]

aaa–ezz[edit]

aka[edit]

aka is the ISO 639-3 language code for Akan. Its ISO 639-1 code is ak. There are two individual language codes assigned:

ara[edit]

ara is the ISO 639-3 language code for Arabic language. Its ISO 639-1 code is ar. There are thirty individual language codes assigned:

The following codes were previously part of ara:

aym[edit]

aym is the ISO 639-3 language code for Aymara. Its ISO 639-1 code is ay. There are two individual language codes assigned:

aze[edit]

aze is the ISO 639-3 language code for Azerbaijani. Its ISO 639-1 code is az. There are two individual language codes assigned:

bal[edit]

bal is the ISO 639-3 language code for Baluchi. There are three individual language codes assigned:

bik[edit]

bik is the ISO 639-3 language code for Bikol. There are eight individual language codes assigned:

The following code was previously part of bik:

  • bhkAlbay Bicolano (Split into Buhi'non Bikol [ubl], Libon Bikol [lbl], Miraya Bikol [rbl], and West Albay Bikol [fbl] on 18 January 2010)

bnc[edit]

bnc is the ISO 639-3 language code for Bontok. There are five individual language codes assigned:

bua[edit]

bua is the ISO 639-3 language code for Buriat. There are three individual language codes assigned:

chm[edit]

chm is the ISO 639-3 language code for Mari, a language located in Russia. There are two individual language codes assigned:

cre[edit]

cre is the ISO 639-3 language code for Cree. Its ISO 639-1 code is cr. There are six individual language codes assigned:

In addition, there are six closely associated individual codes:

  • nskNaskapi (part of the Cree language group but not included under the cre macrolanguage designation)
  • moeMontagnais (part of the Cree language group but not included under the cre macrolanguage designation)
  • atjAtikamekw (part of the Cree language group but not included under the cre macrolanguage designation)
  • crgMichif language (Cree-French mixed language with strong influences from Ojibwe language group and not included under the cre macrolanguage designation)
  • ojsOjibwa, Severn (Ojibwa, Northern) (part of the Ojibwa language group with strong influences from the Cree language group and not included under the cre macrolanguage designation)
  • ojwOjibwa, Western (part of the Ojibwa language group with strong influences from the Cree language group and not included under the cre macrolanguage designation)

In addition, there is one other language without individual codes closely associated, but not part of, this macrolanguage code:

del[edit]

del is the ISO 639-3 language code for Delaware. There are two individual language codes assigned:

den[edit]

den is the ISO 639-3 language code for Slave. There are two individual language codes assigned:

din[edit]

din is the ISO 639-3 language code for Dinka. There are five individual language codes assigned:

doi[edit]

doi is the ISO 639-3 language code for Dogri. There are two individual language codes assigned:

est[edit]

est is the ISO 639-3 language code for Estonian. Its ISO 639-1 code is et. There are two individual language codes assigned:

faa–jzz[edit]

fas[edit]

fas is the ISO 639-3 language code for Persian. Its ISO 639-1 code is fa. There are two individual language codes assigned:

ful[edit]

ful is the ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 language code for Fulah (also spelled Fula). Its ISO 639-1 code is ff. There are nine individual language codes assigned for varieties of Fulah:

gba[edit]

gba is the ISO 639-3 language code for Gbaya located in the Central African Republic. There are six individual language codes assigned:

The following code was previously part of gba:

  • mdo – Southwest Gbaya (Split into Southwest Gbaya [gso] (new identifier) and Gbaya-Mbodomo [gmm] on 14 January 2008)

gon[edit]

gon is the ISO 639-3 language code for Gondi. There are three individual language codes assigned:

The following code was previously part of gon:

  • ggo – Southern Gondi (Split into [esg] Aheri Gondi and [wsg] Adilabad Gondi on 15 January 2016)

grb[edit]

grb is the ISO 639-3 language code for Grebo. There are five individual language codes assigned:

grn[edit]

grn is the ISO 639-3 language code for Guarani. Its ISO 639-1 code is gn. There are five individual language codes assigned:

hai[edit]

hai is the ISO 639-3 language code for Haida. There are two individual language codes assigned:

hbs[edit]

hbs is the ISO 639-3 language code for Serbo-Croatian. There are four individual language codes assigned:

hmn[edit]

hmn is the ISO 639-3 language code for Hmong. There are twenty-five individual language codes assigned:

The following code was previously part of hmn:

  • blu – Hmong Njua (Split into Hmong Njua [hnj] (new identifier), Chuanqiandian Cluster Miao [cqd], Horned Miao [hrm], and Small Flowery Miao [sfm] on 14 January 2008)

iku[edit]

iku is the ISO 639-3 language code for Inuktitut. Its ISO 639-1 code is iu. There are two individual language codes assigned:

ipk[edit]

ipk is the ISO 639-3 language code for Inupiaq. Its ISO 639-1 code is ik. There are two individual language codes assigned:

jrb[edit]

jrb is the ISO 639-3 language code for Judeo-Arabic. There are five individual language codes assigned:

kaa–ozz[edit]

kau[edit]

kau is the ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3 language code for the Kanuri. Its ISO 639-1 code is kr. There are three individual language codes assigned in ISO 639-3 for varieties of Kanuri:

There are two other related languages that are not considered part of the macrolanguage under ISO 639:

kln[edit]

kln is the ISO 639-3 language code for Kalenjin. There are nine individual language codes assigned:

kok[edit]

kok is the ISO 639-3 language code for Konkani (macrolanguage). There are two individual language codes assigned:

Both languages are referred to as Konkani by their respective speakers.

kom[edit]

kom is the ISO 639-3 language code for Komi. Its ISO 639-1 code is kv. There are two individual language codes assigned:

kon[edit]

kon is the ISO 639-3 language code for Kongo. Its ISO 639-1 code is kg. There are three individual language codes assigned:

kpe[edit]

kpe is the ISO 639-3 language code for Kpelle. There are two individual language codes assigned:

kur[edit]

kur is the ISO 639-3 language code for Kurdish. Its ISO 639-1 code is ku. There are three individual language codes assigned:

lah[edit]

lah is the ISO 639-3 language code for Lahnda. There are seven individual language codes assigned.

Note that lah does not include Panjabi/Punjabi (pan).

The following code was previously part of lah:

lav[edit]

lav is the ISO 639-3 language code for Latvian. Its ISO 639-1 code is lv. There are two individual language codes assigned:

luy[edit]

luy is the ISO 639-3 language code for Luyia. There are fourteen individual language codes assigned:

man[edit]

man is the ISO 639-3 language code for Mandingo. There are six individual language codes assigned:

The following codes were previously part of man:

mlg[edit]

mlg is the ISO 639-3 language code for Malagasy. Its ISO 639-1 code is mg. There are eleven individual language codes assigned:

The following codes were previously part of mlg:

mon[edit]

mon is the ISO 639-3 language code for Mongolian. Its ISO 639-1 code is mn. There are two individual language codes assigned:

msa[edit]

msa is the ISO 639-3 language code for Malay (macrolanguage). Its ISO 639-1 code is ms. There are thirty-six individual language codes assigned:

The following code was previously part of msa:

  • mly – Malay (individual language) (Split into Standard Malay [zsm], Haji [hji], Papuan Malay [pmy], and Malay [zlm] on 18 February 2008)

mwr[edit]

mwr is the ISO 639-3 language code for Marwari. There are six individual language codes assigned:

nep[edit]

nep is the ISO 639-3 language code for Nepali (macrolanguage). Its ISO 639-1 code is ne. There are two individual language codes assigned:

nor[edit]

nor is the ISO 639-3 language code for Norwegian. Its ISO 639-1 code is no. There are two individual language codes assigned:

oji[edit]

oji is the ISO 639-3 language code for Ojibwa. Its ISO 639-1 code is oj. There are seven individual language codes assigned:

In addition, there are three closely associated individual codes:

  • alqAlgonquin language (part of the Ojibwe language group but not included under the oji macrolanguage designation)
  • potPotawatomi language (formerly part of the Ojibwe language group and not included under the oji macrolanguage designation)
  • crgMichif language (Cree-French mixed language with strong influences from Ojibwe language group and not included under the oji macrolanguage designation)

In addition, there are two other languages without individual codes closely associated, but not part of, this macrolanguage code:

ori[edit]

ori is the ISO 639-3 language code for Oriya (macrolanguage). Its ISO 639-1 code is or. There are two individual language codes assigned:

orm[edit]

orm is the ISO 639-3 language code for Oromo. Its ISO 639-1 code is om. There are four individual language codes assigned:

paa–zzz[edit]

pus[edit]

pus is the ISO 639-3 language code for Pushto. Its ISO 639-1 code is ps. There are three individual language codes assigned:

que[edit]

que is the ISO 639-3 language code for Quechua. Its ISO 639-1 code is qu. There are forty-three individual language codes assigned:

The following code was previously part of que:

raj[edit]

raj is the ISO 639-3 language code for Rajasthani. There are six individual language codes assigned:

rom[edit]

rom is the ISO 639-3 language code for Romany. There are seven individual language codes assigned:

In addition, there are eight individual codes not part of this macrolanguage but they are categorized as mixed languages:

In addition, there is a language without an individual code assigned, which it is not part of this macrolanguage:

sqi[edit]

sqi is the ISO 639-3 language code for Albanian. Its ISO 639-1 code is sq. There are four individual language codes assigned:

srd[edit]

srd is the ISO 639-3 language code for Sardinian. Its ISO 639-1 code is sc. There are four individual language codes assigned:

swa[edit]

swa is the ISO 639-3 language code for Swahili (macrolanguage). Its ISO 639-1 code is sw. There are two individual language codes assigned:

syr[edit]

syr is the ISO 639-3 language code for Syriac. There are two individual language codes assigned:

tmh[edit]

tmh is the ISO 639-3 language code for Tamashek. There are four individual language codes assigned:

uzb[edit]

uzb is the ISO 639-3 language code for Uzbek. Its ISO 639-1 code is uz. There are two individual language codes assigned:

yid[edit]

yid is the ISO 639-3 language code for Yiddish. Its ISO 639-1 code is yi. There are two individual language codes assigned:

zap[edit]

zap is the ISO 639-3 language code for Zapotec. There are fifty-seven individual language codes assigned.

The following codes were previously part of zap:

  • ztc – Lachirioag Zapotec (Moved to Yatee Zapotec [zty] on 18 July 2007)

In addition, there is an individual code not part of this macrolanguage because it is categorized as a historical language:

zha[edit]

zha is the ISO 639-3 language code for Zhuang. Its ISO 639-1 code is za. There are sixteen individual language codes assigned:

The following codes were previously part of zha:

  • ccx – Northern Zhuang (Split into Guibian Zh [zgn], Liujiang Zh [zlj], Qiubei Zh [zqe], Guibei Zh [zgb], Youjiang Zh [zyj], Central Hongshuihe Zh [zch], Eastern Hongshuihe Zh [zeh], Liuqian Zh [zlq], Yongbei Zh [zyb], and Lianshan Zh [zln]. on 14 January 2008)
  • ccy – Southern Zhuang (Split into Nong Zhuang [zhn], Yang Zhuang [zyg], Yongnan Zhuang [zyn], Zuojiang Zhuang [zzj], and Dai Zhuang [zhd] on 18 July 2007)

zho[edit]

zho is the ISO 639-3 language code for Chinese. Its ISO 639-1 code is zh. There are fourteen individual language codes assigned, most of which are not actually languages but rather groups of Sinitic languages distinguished by isoglosses:

Although the Dungan language (dng) is a dialect of Mandarin, it is not listed under Chinese in ISO 639-3 due to separate historical and cultural development.[9]

ISO 639 also lists codes for Old Chinese (och) and Late Middle Chinese (ltc)). They are not listed under Chinese in ISO 639-3 because they are categorized as ancient and historical languages, respectively.

zza[edit]

zza is the ISO 639-3 language code for Zaza. There are two individual language codes assigned:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ISO 639-3: Scope of denotation for language identifiers: Macrolanguages
  2. ^ https://iso639-3.sil.org/about/relationships
  3. ^ Lewis, M. Paul, ed. (2009). Ethnologue. Dallas: SIL International.
  4. ^ "Scope of denotation for language identifiers". SIL International.
  5. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara". SIL International.
  6. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: arb". SIL International.
  7. ^
    ISO 639-2/RA Change Notice
    ISO
    639-1
    Code
    ISO
    639-2
    Code
    English
    name of
    Language
    French
    name of
    Language
    Date
    Added or
    Changed
    Category
    of Change
    Notes
    [-sh] (none) Serbo-Croatian serbo-croate 2000-02-18 Dep This code was deprecated in 2000 because there were separate language codes for each individual language represented (Serbian, Croatian, and then Bosnian was added). It was published in a revision of ISO 639-1, but was never included in ISO 639-2. It is considered a macrolanguage (general name for a cluster of closely related individual languages) in ISO 639-3. Its deprecated status was reaffirmed by the ISO 639 JAC in 2005.
    sr srp [scc] Serbian serbe 2008-06-28 CC ISO 639-2/B code deprecated in favor of ISO 639-2/T code
    hr hrv [scr] Croatian croate 2008-06-28 CC ISO 639-2/B code deprecated in favor of ISO 639-2/T code
  8. ^ "ISO 639-3 Code Tables". SIL International. 2019-04-09.
  9. ^ Rimsky-Korsakoff, Svetlana (1967). "Soviet Dungan: The Chinese language of Central Asia. Alphabet, phonology, morphology". Monumenta Serica. 26: 352–421.

External links[edit]