[sword-devel] ISO language codes

Jamie jamie at critos.co.uk
Tue Jan 12 11:28:56 EST 2021

Thank you to all of you for getting back to me so quickly, and for the
information you have provided.

Picking up Dom's question below, on the subject of the new IANA registry, as
I said in my earlier email, I have only taken a quick look, but it seems to
combine the previous 2- and 3- character codes with the principle that where
you have a choice between them, you _must_ use the shorter.  So, to take an
example which I have been looking at recently, Amharic has a 2-character
code (am) and a 3-character code (amh), and it looks to mandate the use of
'am'.  I guess at least this removes any ambiguity -- but may not help if
you have software which expects to have a specific kind of code.


-----Original Message-----
From: domcox [mailto:dominique at corbex.org] 
Sent: 12 January 2021 16:17
To: SWORD Developers' Collaboration Forum <sword-devel at crosswire.org>
Cc: Jamie <jamie at critos.co.uk>
Subject: Re: [sword-devel] ISO language codes

Jamie writes:

> The Sword config file contains an ISO language code.  Is anyone able 
> to tell me what this gets used for (and more specifically, whether 
> there is any requirement as to whether this should be a 2-character 
> code or a 3-character one)?

I not have much knowledge of this, but after a quick look at the source
code, I saw the ISO language code is used by the transliteration filter.

ISO language code is  also used by the Xapian search engine, I suppose we
can't search Chinese or Hebrew or English texts the same way. See:

And if I recall correctly, ISO language code is used in Lucene searches by

> (In fact I see IANA now have a new registry of codes which 
> supersedes the
> 2-char and 3-char lists, but it looks as though this merely 
> mandates the use
> of the old 2-character codes where available, and 3-character 
> otherwise.)

Is there a benefit over the SIL database?

SIL International is the registration authority for ISO-639-3.

"SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of 
Linguistics) is a Christian non-profit organization, whose main 
purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially 
those that are lesser-known, in order to expand linguistic 
knowledge, promote literacy, translate the Christian Bible into 
local languages, and aid minority language development."

-- Dom

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