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ISO 639 2-letter language codes

You have probably seen 2-letter codes referring to languages, e.g. FR, EN, DE for French, English and German respectively.

Such codes used to be rather arbitrary (GE or DE or German? DU or NL for Dutch? Is PO Polish or Portuguese, etc.) but more and more companies are now using standardized codes, in accordance with ISO 639.

2-letter codes are covered by ISO 639-1, and are mostly based on the language name in the local language (so it’s DE for Deutsch, NL for nederlands, etc.). The standard also serves to resolve ambiguities like PO (Polish = PL, Portuguese = PT and PO is not used).

Here are the codes for some major languages (actually the ones we see the biggest translation demand for):

CodeLanguageComments (some diacritics may be missing)
ARArabic
BGBulgarianBlgarski ezik (Cyrillic script български език)
CACatalanCatalà
CSCzechThe digraph cz- is English is odd. It is used in no other word and does not appear in Czech.
DADanishNot to be confused with the DK used on car number plates
DEGermanDeutsch
ELGreekEllinika in Greek – Ελληνικά
ENEnglish
ESSpanishEspañol
EUBasqueEuskera
FIFinnishOdd, since in Finnish it’s suomen kieli
FRFrenchFrançais
HIHindiहिन्दी
HUHungarianOdd, since it’s Magyar in Hungarian
IDIndonesianBahasa Indonesia
ITItalianItaliano
JAJapaneseAnother anomaly: Nippon go in Japanese 日本語
KOKoreanHan in Korean 한국어
NONorwegianNorsk, but the literary variety is called Norsk bokmal (NB)
NLDutchNederlands
PLPolishPolski
PTPortuguesePortuguês
RORomanianRomâna
RURussianRusskii yazik (русский язык – Cyrillic alphabet)
SVSwedishSvenska (SW = Swahili)
TRTurkishTürkçe
ZHChinese中文 – Zhong wen, i.e. Mandarin Chinese. You sometimes see ZH-S and ZH-T for simplified and traditional forms respectively, though this is not part of the ISO standard.

For a complete list, see for example Wikipedia

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