ISO 639-2
ISO 639-2:1998, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 2: Alpha-3 code, is the second part of the ISO 639
ISO 639
ISO 639 is a set of standards by the International Organization for Standardization that is concerned with representation of names for language and language groups....

International standard
International standards are standards developed by international standards organizations. International standards are available for consideration and use, worldwide...

, which lists codes for the representation of the names of languages. The three-letter codes given for each language in this part of the standard are referred to as "Alpha-3" codes. There are 464 entries in the list of ISO 639-2 codes.

The US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 is the registration authority for ISO 639-2 (referred to as ISO 639-2/RA). As registration authority, the LOC receives and reviews proposed changes; they also have representation on the ISO 639-RA Joint Advisory Committee responsible for maintaining the ISO 639 code tables.

Work was begun on the ISO 639-2 standard in 1989, because the ISO 639-1
ISO 639-1
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 for language codes. Part 1 covers the registration of two-letter codes. There are 136 two-letter codes registered...

 standard, which gives two-letter codes for languages, would not be able to accommodate a sufficient number of languages. The ISO 639-2 standard was first released in 1998.

B and T codes

While most languages are given one code by the standard, twenty of the languages described have two three-letter codes, a "bibliographic" code (ISO 639-2/B), which is derived from the English name for the language and was a necessary legacy feature, and a "terminological" code (ISO 639-2/T), which is derived from the native name for the language. Each of these twenty languages is also included in the ISO 639-1 standard. (There were 22 B codes; scc and scr are now deprecated.)

In general the T codes are favored; ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3:2007, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages, is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 639 series. The standard describes three‐letter codes for identifying languages. It extends the ISO 639-2...

 uses ISO 639-2/T. However, ISO 15924
ISO 15924
ISO 15924, Codes for the representation of names of scripts, defines two sets of codes for a number of writing systems . Each script is given both a four-letter code and a numeric one....

 derives its codes when possible from ISO 639-2/B.

Scopes and types

  • Individual languages
  • Macrolanguages
  • Collections of languages
  • Dialects
  • Reserved for local use
  • Special situations

Types (for individual languages):
  • Living languages
  • Extinct languages
  • Ancient languages
  • Historic languages
  • Constructed languages

Special situations

There are codes for special situations:
  • mis is listed as "uncoded languages"
  • mul (for multiple languages) is applied when several languages are used and it is not practical to specify all the appropriate language codes
  • The interval from qaa to qtz is reserved and is not used in the standard
  • und (for undetermined) is used in situations in which a language or languages must be indicated but the language cannot be identified.
  • zxx is listed in the code list as "no linguistic content" (added 2006-01-11)

Collective language codes

Some ISO 639-2 codes that are commonly used for languages do not precisely represent a particular language or some related languages (as the above macrolanguages). They are regarded as collective language codes and are excluded from ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3:2007, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages, is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 639 series. The standard describes three‐letter codes for identifying languages. It extends the ISO 639-2...

. For a definition of macrolanguages and collective languages see

The collective language codes in ISO 639-2 are listed below.

The following two codes are identified as collective codes in ISO 639-2 but are (at present) missing from ISO 639-5:
  • bih Bihari
    Bihari languages
    Bihari is a name given to the western group of Eastern Indic languages, spoken in Bihar and neighboring states in India. Angika, Bajjika, Bhojpuri, Magahi, and Maithili are spoken in Nepal as well. The Angika, Bajjika, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili speaking population form more than 21% of Nepalese...

     (has the ISO 639-1 code bh)
  • him Himachali

Codes registered for 639-2 that are listed as collective codes in ISO 639-5 (and collective codes by name in ISO 639-2):
  • afa Afro-Asiatic languages
    Afro-Asiatic languages
    The Afroasiatic languages , also known as Hamito-Semitic, constitute one of the world's largest language families, with about 375 living languages...

  • alg Algonquian languages
    Algonquian languages
    The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

  • apa Apache languages
  • art artificial languages
  • ath Athapascan languages
  • aus Australian languages
  • bad Banda languages
    Banda languages
    Banda is a family of Ubangian languages spoken by the Banda people of Central Africa.-Languages:Olson classfies the Banda family as follows :*Central**Central Banda...

  • bai Bamileke languages
    Bamileke languages
    Bamileke is a group of languages spoken by the Bamileke in the western grasslands of Cameroon.The languages, which might constitute two branches of Eastern Grassfields, are:...

  • bat Baltic languages
    Baltic languages
    The Baltic languages are a group of related languages belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family and spoken mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe...

  • ber Berber languages
    Berber languages
    The Berber languages are a family of languages indigenous to North Africa, spoken from Siwa Oasis in Egypt to Morocco , and south to the countries of the Sahara Desert...

  • bnt Bantu languages
    Bantu languages
    The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

  • btk Batak languages
    Batak languages
    The Batak languages are spoken by Batak and Alas people of North Sumatra, Indonesia.Historically they were written using Batak script but the Latin alphabet is now used for most writing....

  • cai Central American Indian languages
  • cau Caucasian languages
  • cel Celtic languages
    Celtic languages
    The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

  • cmc Chamic languages
    Chamic languages
    The Chamic languages, also known as Aceh–Chamic and Achinese–Chamic, are a group of ten languages spoken in parts of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hainan, classified as Malayic languages in the Austronesian language family....

  • col Shilluk language
    Shilluk language
    The Shilluk Language, or Chollo, is a Nilotic language spoken by the Shilluk people of South Sudan. It is closely related to Luo. Dhɔg Cɔllɔ is widely spoken throughout the Shilluk Kingdom and it is the official language of Shilluk and the residents in Shilluk Kingdom.-Written language:Tyɛlli...

  • cpe creoles and pidgins, English-based
  • cpf creoles and pidgins, French-based
  • cpp creoles and pidgins, Portuguese-based
  • crp creoles
    Creole language
    A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

     and pidgin
    A pidgin , or pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the...

  • cus Cushitic languages
    Cushitic languages
    The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family spoken in the Horn of Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt. They are named after the Biblical character Cush, who was identified as an ancestor of the speakers of these specific languages as early as AD 947...

  • day Land Dayak languages
    Land Dayak languages
    The Land Dayak languages are a putative group of dozen or so languages spoken by the Bidayuh Land Dayaks of Borneo.-Languages:The unity of Land Dayak as a group is dubious...

  • dra Dravidian languages
    Dravidian languages
    The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and...

  • fiu Finno-Ugrian languages
  • gem Germanic languages
    Germanic languages
    The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

  • ijo Ijo languages
    Ijo languages
    Ijaw, also spelled Ịjọ, is the main subgroup of the Ijoid group of Niger–Congo languages. Ijaw languages are spoken in southern Nigeria by the Ijaw people....

  • inc Indic languages
  • ine Indo-European languages
    Indo-European languages
    The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

  • ira Iranian languages
    Iranian languages
    The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

  • iro Iroquoian languages
    Iroquoian languages
    The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

  • kar Karen languages
    Karen languages
    The Karen languages are tonal languages spoken by some three million Karen people. They are of unclear affiliation within the Tibeto-Burman languages. The Karen languages are written using the Burmese script. The three main branches are Sgaw, Pwo, and Pa'o. Karenni and Kayan are related to the...

  • khi Khoisan languages
    Khoisan languages
    The Khoisan languages are the click languages of Africa which do not belong to other language families. They include languages indigenous to southern and eastern Africa, though some, such as the Khoi languages, appear to have moved to their current locations not long before the Bantu expansion...

  • kro Kru languages
    Kru languages
    -References:* Westerman, Diedrich Hermann Languages of West Africa . London/New York/Toronto: Oxford University Press.-External links:* at Ethnologue*...

  • map Austronesian languages
    Austronesian languages
    The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

  • mkh Mon–Khmer languages
  • mno Manobo languages
    Manobo languages
    The Manobo languages are a group of languages spoken in the Philippines. All go by the name 'Manobo' or 'Banobo'.-Languages:*Central**East: Dibabawon, Rajah Kabunsuwan, Agusan**South: Ata-Tigwa , Obo**West: Western Bukidnon, Ilianen...

  • mun Munda languages
    Munda languages
    -Anderson :Gregory Anderson's 1999 proposal is as follows. Individual languages are highlighted in italics.*North Munda **Korku**Kherwarian***Santhali***Mundari*South Munda **Kharia–Juang***Juang***Kharia...

  • myn Mayan languages
    Mayan languages
    The Mayan languages form a language family spoken in Mesoamerica and northern Central America. Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million indigenous Maya, primarily in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras...

  • nah Nahuatl languages
  • nai North American Indian languages
  • nic Niger–Congo languages
    Niger–Congo languages
    The Niger–Congo languages constitute one of the world's major language families, and Africa's largest in terms of geographical area, number of speakers, and number of distinct languages. They may constitute the world's largest language family in terms of distinct languages, although this question...

  • nub Nubian languages
    Nubian languages
    The Nubian language group, according to the most recent research by Bechhaus-Gerst comprises the following varieties:# Nobiin ....

  • oto Otomian languages
  • paa Papuan languages
    Papuan languages
    The Papuan languages are those languages of the western Pacific which are neither Austronesian nor Australian. The term does not presuppose a genetic relationship. The concept of Papuan peoples as distinct from Melanesians was first suggested and named by Sidney Herbert Ray in 1892.-The...

  • phi Philippine languages
    Philippine languages
    The Philippine languages are a 1991 proposal by Robert Blust that all the languages of the Philippines and northern Sulawesi—except Sama–Bajaw and a few languages of Palawan—form a subfamily of Austronesian languages...

  • pra Prakrit languages
  • roa Romance languages
    Romance languages
    The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

  • sai South American Indian languages
  • sal Salishan languages
    Salishan languages
    The Salishan languages are a group of languages of the Pacific Northwest...

  • sem Semitic languages
    Semitic languages
    The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

  • sgn sign language
    Sign language
    A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

  • sio Siouan languages
    Siouan languages
    The Western Siouan languages, also called Siouan proper or simply Siouan, are a Native American language family of North America, and the second largest indigenous language family in North America, after Algonquian...

  • sit Sino-Tibetan languages
    Sino-Tibetan languages
    The Sino-Tibetan languages are a language family comprising, at least, the Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman languages, including some 250 languages of East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. They are second only to the Indo-European languages in terms of the number of native speakers...

  • sla Slavic languages
    Slavic languages
    The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

  • smi Sami languages
    Sami languages
    Sami or Saami is a general name for a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia, in Northern Europe. Sami is frequently and erroneously believed to be a single language. Several names are used for the Sami...

  • son Songhai languages
  • ssa Nilo-Saharan languages
    Nilo-Saharan languages
    The Nilo-Saharan languages are a proposed family of African languages spoken by some 50 million people, mainly in the upper parts of the Chari and Nile rivers , including historic Nubia, north of where the two tributaries of Nile meet...

  • tai Tai languages
    Tai languages
    The Tai or Zhuang–Tai languages are a branch of the Tai–Kadai language family. The Tai languages include the most widely spoken of the Tai–Kadai languages, including standard Thai or Siamese, the national language of Thailand; Lao or Laotian, the national language of Laos; Burma's Shan language;...

  • tup Tupi languages
  • tut Altaic languages
    Altaic languages
    Altaic is a proposed language family that includes the Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and Japonic language families and the Korean language isolate. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from northeast Asia through Central Asia to Anatolia and eastern Europe...

  • wak Wakashan languages
    Wakashan languages
    Wakashan is a family of languages spoken in British Columbia around and on Vancouver Island, and in the northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca....

  • wen Sorbian languages
    Sorbian languages
    The Sorbian languages are classified under the Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. They are the native languages of the Sorbs, a Slavic minority in the Lusatia region of eastern Germany. Historically the language has also been known as Wendish or Lusatian. Their collective ISO 639-2 code...

  • ypk Yupik languages
  • znd Zande languages
    Zande languages
    The Zande languages are half a dozen closely related Ubangian languages of the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan. The most popular language is Zande itself, with over a million speakers.-Languages:...

Special codes in ISO 639-2:
  • und undetermined (language)
  • mis uncoded language
  • mul multiple languages
  • zxx no linguistic content, not applicable

External links

  • ISO 639-2/RA Homepage
  • ISO 639-2/RA Change Notice
  • Details at Library of Congress
    Library of Congress
    The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

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