ISO 2 Letter Language Codes

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ISO language codes are standardized codes that represent languages and language families. They are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and are used internationally to identify languages in various contexts.The codes below, which are sorted alphabetically by language (not language code) are to be used with the core lang attribute to identify the language contained inside the element that the lang attribute is applied to.

Table 1. Language Codes
Language Code
Abkhazian AB
Afar AA
Afrikaans AF
Albanian SQ
Amharic AM
Arabic AR
Armenian HY
Assamese AS
Aymara AY
Azerbaijani AZ
Bashkir BA
Basque EU
Bengali, Bangla BN
Bhutani DZ
Bihari BH
Bislama BI
Breton BR
Bulgarian BG
Burmese MY
Byelorussian BE
Cambodian KM
Catalan CA
Chinese ZH
Corsican CO
Croatian HR
Czech CS
Danish DA
Dutch NL
English, American EN
Esperanto EO
Estonian ET
Faeroese FO
Fiji FJ
Finnish FI
French FR
Frisian FY
Gaelic (Scots Gaelic) GD
Galician GL
Georgian KA
German DE
Greek EL
Greenlandic KL
Guarani GN
Gujarati GU
Hausa HA
Hebrew IW
Hindi HI
Hungarian HU
Icelandic IS
Indonesian IN
Interlingua IA
Interlingue IE
Inupiak IK
Irish GA
Italian IT
Japanese JA
Javanese JW
Kannada KN
Kashmiri KS
Kazakh KK
Kinyarwanda RW
Kirghiz KY
Kirundi RN
Korean KO
Kurdish KU
Laothian LO
Latin LA
Latvian, Lettish LV
Lingala LN
Lithuanian LT
Macedonian MK
Malagasy MG
Malay MS
Malayalam ML
Maltese MT
Maori MI
Marathi MR
Moldavian MO
Mongolian MN
Nauru NA
Nepali NE
Norwegian NO
Occitan OC
Oriya OR
Oromo, Afan OM
Pashto, Pushto PS
Persian FA
Polish PL
Portuguese PT
Punjabi PA
Quechua QU
Rhaeto-Romance RM
Romanian RO
Russian RU
Samoan SM
Sangro SG
Sanskrit SA
Serbian SR
Serbo-Croatian SH
Sesotho ST
Setswana TN
Shona SN
Sindhi SD
Singhalese SI
Siswati SS
Slovak SK
Slovenian SL
Somali SO
Spanish ES
Sudanese SU
Swahili SW
Swedish SV
Tagalog TL
Tajik TG
Tamil TA
Tatar TT
Tegulu TE
Thai TH
Tibetan BO
Tigrinya TI
Tonga TO
Tsonga TS
Turkish TR
Turkmen TK
Twi TW
Ukrainian UK
Urdu UR
Uzbek UZ
Vietnamese VI
Volapuk VO
Welsh CY
Wolof WO
Xhosa XH
Yiddish JI
Yoruba YO
Zulu ZU

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about ISO Language Codes

What are ISO language codes?

ISO language codes are standardized codes that represent languages and language families. These codes are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and are used internationally to identify languages in various contexts.

Why are ISO language codes important?

ISO language codes provide a consistent and standardized way to represent languages across different systems, databases, and applications. They enable accurate language identification, data organization, and multilingual support.

What is the format of an ISO language code?

An ISO language code typically consists of two or three lowercase letters that represent the language. For example, “en” stands for English, “fr” for French, and “es” for Spanish.

Are there different types of ISO language codes?

Yes, there are two main types of ISO language codes: ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2. ISO 639-1 codes consist of two-letter codes, while ISO 639-2 codes can be two or three letters. Additionally, there’s ISO 639-3, which includes codes for individual languages and distinct dialects.

What is ISO 639-1?

ISO 639-1 is the first part of the ISO 639 standard. It defines two-letter codes for a wide range of languages. These codes are often used in contexts where brevity is important, such as in URLs, domain names, and language tags.

When is ISO 639-2 used?

ISO 639-2 is used when more granularity is needed in language classification. It provides both two-letter and three-letter codes, accommodating a larger set of languages and variations. ISO 639-2 codes are commonly used in libraries, archives, and other academic or cultural contexts.

What is ISO 639-3?

ISO 639-3 is an extension of the ISO 639 standard and provides codes for individual languages and distinct dialects. It aims to cover the full range of known languages worldwide. ISO 639-3 codes are used for linguistic research, documentation, and preservation efforts.

How are ISO language codes assigned?

ISO language codes are assigned based on language names, dialects, and linguistic variations. The ISO 639 Maintenance Agency is responsible for maintaining and updating the standard. The codes often reflect the English or native name of the language.

Can ISO language codes change over time?

Yes, ISO language codes can change due to linguistic research, language evolution, or corrections. The ISO 639 standard is periodically updated to reflect these changes and additions.

Are there any limitations to ISO language codes?

While ISO language codes cover a wide range of languages, there are cases where certain languages or dialects may not have a specific code. Additionally, language codes might not fully encompass regional variations or unique linguistic characteristics.

Can ISO language codes be used in programming?

Yes, ISO language codes are commonly used in programming to implement multilingual features, such as internationalization and localization. They help developers identify and display content in the user’s preferred language.

Are there resources available to look up ISO language codes?

Yes, the official ISO 639 website provides a list of registered language codes. Online databases, libraries, and programming frameworks often include tools for looking up and using ISO language codes in various applications.

Can ISO language codes be used for dialects or regional variations?

Yes, ISO 639-3 codes can be used to identify distinct dialects or regional variations. However, not all dialects have unique codes, and sometimes more specific identifiers are used when needed.

How can I contribute to the ISO language code standard?

The ISO 639 standard is maintained by the ISO 639 Maintenance Agency, which includes experts in linguistics and language classification. If you’re an expert in linguistics, you can contact the agency to contribute to the standard’s development and updates.

Adam RobertsAdam Roberts
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Adam is SitePoint's head of newsletters, who mainly writes Versioning, a daily newsletter covering everything new and interesting in the world of web development. He has a beard and will talk to you about beer and Star Wars, if you let him.

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