[sw-l] Re: Country and Language Codes, and standardization with ISO

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Sep 28 14:59:48 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
September 28, 2004

Signuno wrote:
> SGN-US-CA won't work because you shouldn't mix
> language codes with country codes (all these are case
> INsensitive).  Also, SGN-EO could be a problem for
> this same reason.

Hello Everyone!
The ISO mixes language codes with country codes all the time!! That is
how their system works...for example:

British English is en-GB
American English is en-US

That is a combination of a language code and country code, which has
been used for years in email headers etc.

If you feel that sgn-US-CA doesn't make sense, that is fine...at the
moment the standard for Canada would be:


In the case of the current standards, which our non-profit
organization, the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting, and an Irish
organization that works with the ISO, worked on, and then our
organization paid to register each code one by one...for example:



Those standards are now being used all over the world by programmers.
We spent over a year discussing all these issues with the SignWriting
List and wrote to a lot of people to get their opinions too. Then some
hearing members of the ISO didn't think signed languages were real
languages, and we were so fortunate that someone at Gallaudet defended
us in the attempt to try to get a standard code for signed
languages...if we had not done that, there still would be no official
codes for signed languages in the world, is my guess...at least we have
something now, even if it is not perfect...

> Why not deprecate all SGN-twoletter codes and invent
> and register new SGN-threeormoreletter codes such as:
> etc

Regarding your idea above of using ASL or BSL etc.....I would
immediately ask which signed language are you referring to? Austrian
Sign Language? Armenian Sign Language? Sorry, but ASL can mean a lot of
languages around the world, and also inside each spoken language, those
acronyms can change meaning too...That is why our generic solution
works so well...no one can feel bad, because in their daily speech
and/or signing, they will always keep calling their language whatever
they call it...no one is changing the name of their language. It
doesn't bother me that the code for English is en. I still use the word
English when I speak.

> Or is it too late for that?

The codes that we registered are now used around the world in a variety
of computer programs, and also in email headers and in web sites. For
that reason, those specific codes can't be thrown out, but perhaps, if
you have the money and time yourself, you could propose to the ISO to
add this new encoding system that you mention above...

But our organization, the Center for Sutton Movement Writing, which
sponsors the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting, will not be paying
for any new encoding systems. If we ever have the money to do more, we
will only add more signed languages in the same system we have already
set up...

So I guess it is up to you, if you want to encourage the ISO committee
to add your new system above...You could contact them and find out how
to go about it...

You can read about our work on some of these pages:

[PDF] ISO Codes for Sign Languages
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
... December 29, 2000 Implementing the ISO 639-2 code for Sign
Languages Page: 1
  http://www.egt.ie/standards/iso639/sgn.html Title: Implementing the
ISO 639-2 code ...
  www.signwriting.org/archive/ docs1/sw0033-Sign-Language-Codes.pdf -

[PDF] SignWriting in Unicode
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
... in the Universal Character Set by Michael Everson Dublin, Ireland,
August 15, 1999
  The Universal Character Set or UCS (International Standard ISO/IEC
10646-1 ...
  www.signwriting.org/archive/ docs1/sw0037-SW-In-Unicode.pdf -

Recognition of Sign Languages
... The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the
  standards for the representation of languages in computers. ...
  www.signwriting.org/forums/ software/unicode/unicod01.html - 8k -

SignWriting In Unicode
The Universal Character Set or UCS (International Standard ISO/IEC
10646-1 and computer
  industry implementation Unicode) is a solution to the many problems ...
  www.signwriting.org/forums/ software/unicode/unicod00.html - 10k -

[PDF] Recognition World's Sign Languages
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
... The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the
  standards for the repre- sentation of languages in computers. ...
  www.signwriting.org/archive/ docs1/sw0034-SGN-Recognition.pdf -

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