Appendix F. Languages codes

The ISO-639 standard defines all languages and standardizes codes for designing them as well as the English and French names of these languages.

Each language in the ISO-639 list has a three letter code. The most widely spread languages also have a two-letter code defined.

In Unix systems, the two-letter codes are used in locales files and thus these codes should be used when they exist for a given language. When there is no two-letter code, the three-letter code must be used in the locales file.

On Debian systems, the iso-codes packages includes a list of all ISO-639 material. This list must be used as a reference when in doubt for the code of a given language.

Some languages may have variants, for instance depending on the region they're spoken in. The distinction must be made on the written form of the language: different variants in terms of spoken language are out of topic here.

When the variants differ on the way to write the same language (no different ISO codes exist), the country/region part of the locale should be used. Translators who are considering doing so must first contact the Debian Installer i18n coordinators. Such cases should be kept to a very low number of occurrences and should only be used when the two languages differ too much.

The currently accepted variants are:

FAQ about variants: