Requirement Level: Required if Applicable

Core Element: Yes

Describes: Original Source


The language of the source content being described: applies to textual or spoken word (linguistic) content. An important search and filter option, this element provides context for whether or not end-users can access the content in a given language. Record this information if it is applicable to your content, and/or if the language can be determined.


Postcard with captions in English English eng
Manuscript written in Old French French, Old (842-ca.1400) fro
Video with spoken dialogue in Korean Korean kor
Website presented in Arabic and English





Mappings and Encoding

Dublin Core: 


See recommended mappings for additional standards.

How Do I Fill This In?



Recommended Data Entry Type:

Controlled Vocabulary

Recommended/default values:

For best interoperability, use values from a standard language name encoding scheme. These schemes provide common, reusable language names and also translate these entries across multiple languages. Language name encoding schemes provide three-digit codes (e.g. “eng”) as well as terms (e.g. “English”).

ISO639-2b and the MARC List for Languages are commonly utilized schemes for encoding language information, both of which are maintained by the Library of Congress.

Depending on which system or method you are using to enter your metadata, you may be required to enter a code, a term or both.  If you are not using a formal metadata entry system and are uncertain about how to enter your language entry, enter a term value from the MARC List for Languages instead of the coded value: the term value is easier for end users to understand.

Additional detail:

If your system or schema supports it, it is recommended to indicate which language encoding scheme/vocabulary is used (in addition to the code or term entered as the value).  Some standards require the use of both the term and the code.

Additional attributes/properties for this element may include:

  • Type of name value entered (code or text)
  • Language Authority/Scheme (name or code)
  • Authority URL
  • Value URL
  • Value ID

System Tips:

Emory systems may vary in which language encoding system they utilize. Consult with your system administrator regarding individual systems’ needs.

Emory Fedora repository applications utilize double-encoding (storing language information with both ISO639-2b codes and the MARC List for Languages term values).

Emory DAMS uses terms from the MARC List for Languages.

HTML can also utilize ISO language codes, which can help search engines and browsers.


Guideline last revised: 2015-02-16