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Language codes - ISO 639

ISO 639 is the International Standard for language codes. The purpose of ISO 639 is to establish internationally recognised codes (either 2, 3, or 4 letters long) for the representation of languages or language families.

Uses of ISO 639

These codes are widely used in many different disciplines, for example for bibliographic purposes, in the library community, as well as for computerized systems, and the representation of different language versions on websites.

Using a code rather than the name of a language has many benefits as some languages are referred to by different groups in different ways, and two unrelated languages may share the same or similar name.

ISO 639 is composed of six different parts

Registration Authorities

The language codes are open lists that can be extended and refined. The job of maintaining these standards has been given to bodies known as Registration Authorities.

Details of the Registration Authorities for ISO 639 can be found in the list of Registration Authorities and Maintenance Agencies.

Access ISO 639

Quick links
ISO 639 - Parts 1, 2 and 5
ISO 639 - Part 3
ISO 639 - Part 6

ISO Store

  • ISO 639-1:2002
    Codes for the representation of names of languages -- Part 1: Alpha-2 code
  • ISO 639-2:1998
    Codes for the representation of names of languages -- Part 2: Alpha-3 code
  • ISO 639-3:2007
    Codes for the representation of names of languages -- Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages
  • ISO 639-4:2010
    Codes for the representation of names of languages -- Part 4: General principles of coding of the representation of names of languages and related entities, and application guidelines
  • ISO 639-5:2008
    Codes for the representation of names of languages -- Part 5: Alpha-3 code for language families and groups
  • ISO 639-6:2009
    Codes for the representation of names of languages -- Part 6: Alpha-4 code for comprehensive coverage of language variants

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