ISO 639-3 (Classification) a list of almost 8,000 three-letter codes for languages according to the third ISO 639 standard

ISO 639-3 is a term in Information Science that commonly means "a list of almost 8,000 three-letter codes for languages according to the third ISO 639 standard." (See also: ISO 639). This term belongs mainly to the broader category called Classification.

Website definitions of ISO 639-3

Source: ISO (

"ISO 639-3:2007"

Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages. 

This standard was last reviewed and confirmed in 2021. Therefore this version remains current.

Abstract: ISO 639-3:2007 provides a code, published by the Registration Authority of ISO 639-3, consisting of language code elements comprising three-letter language identifiers for the representation of languages. The language identifiers according to this ISO 639-3:2007 were devised for use in a wide range of applications, especially in computer systems, where there is potential need to support a large number of the languages that are known to have ever existed. Whereas ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2 are intended to focus on the major languages of the world that are most frequently represented in the total body of the world's literature, ISO 639-3:2007 attempts to provide as complete an enumeration of languages as possible, including living, extinct, ancient and constructed languages, whether major or minor, written or unwritten. As a result, ISO 639-3:2007 deals with a very large number of lesser-known languages. Languages designed exclusively for machine use, such as computer-programming languages and reconstructed languages, are not included in this code.

ISO Contributors, "ISO: ISO 639-3:2007," accessed September 18, 2023, [Visit]

Source: ISO 639-3 (

"Information on ISO 639-3"

What is ISO 639-3? ISO 639-3 is a set of codes that defines three-letter identifiers for all known human languages. At the core of ISO 639-3 are the individual languages already accounted for in ISO 639-2. The large number of living languages in the initial inventory of ISO 639-3 beyond those already included in ISO 639-2 was derived primarily from Ethnologue (15th edition). Additional extinct, ancient, historic, and constructed languages were obtained from the Linguist List. For the criteria for a language to receive a code, read here.

Registration Authority. SIL International has been designated as the ISO 639-3/RA for the purpose of processing requests for alpha-3 language codes comprising the International Standard, Codes for the representation of names of languages - Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages. The ISO 639-3/RA receives and reviews applications for requesting new language codes and for the change of existing ones according to criteria indicated in the standard. It maintains an accurate list of information associated with registered language codes which can be viewed on or downloaded from this website, and processes updates of registered language codes. Notifications of pending and adopted updates are also distributed on a regular basis to subscribers and other parties.

SIL International Contributors, "ISO 693-3: Information on ISO 639-3," accessed September 18, 2023, [Visit]

PDF of Website Page



PsychLing Contributors. "ISO 639-3." PsychLing, OMNIKA Foundation, 18 Sep. 2023, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.


PsychLing (2023, September 18). ISO 639-3. Retrieved from

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PsychLing Contributors. "ISO 639-3." Las Vegas, NV: OMNIKA Foundation. Created September 18, 2023. Modified September 18, 2023. Accessed April 18, 2024.


APA Dictionary

APA Contributors. "APA Dictionary of Psychology." Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Accessed September 14, 2023. [Visit]


Crystal, David, ed. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 6ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2011.


Internet Archive Contributors. "Wayback Machine." San Francisco, CA: Internet Archive. Created October 24, 2001. Accessed July 21, 2023. [Visit]


ISO Contributors. "ISO: International Organization for Standardization." Geneva, Switzerland: International Organization for Standardization. Accessed July 28, 2023. [Visit]

ISO 639-3

SIL International Contributors. "ISO 639-3 Registration Authority: International Standard for Language Codes." Dallas, TX: SIL International. Accessed July 28, 2023. [Visit]


SIL International Contributors. "SIL International." Dallas, TX: SIL International. Accessed July 28, 2023. [Visit]

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