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ISO 639-1:2002, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 1: Alpha-2 code, is the first part of the ISO 639 series of international standards on language codes. This part covers registration of two-letter codes. Currently, there are 136 two-letter codes registered under ISO 639-1. These codes are of the major languages of the world.

These codes have use internationally, because they are formal, shorthand ways to indicate languages. For example:

  • English = en
  • Lithuanian = lt
  • Italian = it
  • French = fr
  • German = de (from the endonym Deutsch)
  • Japanese = ja
  • Portuguese = pt
  • Spanish = es (from the endonym español)
  • Catalan = ca
  • Shilluk = cl (ISO 639-2: col; ISO 639-3: shk)
  • Swedish = sv (from the endonym Svenska)

ISO 639-1 was the original standard of language codes, and was approved in 1967. It was split into parts, and in 2002, ISO 639-1 became the new revision of the international standard. The last code that was added to ISO 639-1 was ht representing Haitian Creole on February 26, 2002. The use of this standard was encouraged by IETF language tags by RFC 1766 in March 1995, and continued by RFC 3066 in January 2001, and RFC 4646 in September 2006. The current version of the standard is RFC 5646 from September 2009. Infoterm is the registration authority for ISO 639-1 codes.

New ISO 639-1 tags are not added if an ISO 639-2 code already exists, so systems that use ISO 639-1 and 639-2 codes, with 639-1 codes preferred, do not have to change any preexisting codes.[1]

If an ISO 639-2 code that covers a group of languages is used, it may be overriden for specific languages with the new ISO 639-1 code.

ISO 639-1 codes added after RFC publication in January 2001
ISO 639-1 ISO 639-2 Name Date added Previously covered by
io ido Ido 2002-01-15 art
wa wln Wallon 2002-01-29 roa
li lim Limburgish 2002-08-02 gem
ii iii Sichuan Yi 2002-10-14 sit
an arg Aragonese 2002-12-23 roa
ht hat Haitian Creole 2003-02-26 cpf

There is no specification on treatment of macrolanguages (see ISO 639-3).

See also[]

  • List of ISO 639-1 codes


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