Music Cataloging at Yale MARC Tagging

Language code for sung or spoken text and accompanying material (041 field)

The 041 field is used when there are two or more languages involved in a score or sound recording. Use of the 041 field is not optional.

See Cataloging Service Bulletin no. 52 p. 29-33 for extremely detailed information about coding the 041 field.
See also Video language coding: best practices for MARC 008/Lang and 041 field tagging for vidoes; includes some music cataloging examples

Language codes of languages most frequently found in music materials
cat = Catalan
chi = Chinese
chu = Church Slavic
scr = Croatian
cze = Czech
dan = Danish
dut = Dutch
    fin = Finnish
fre = French
ger = German
gre = Greek (modern)
heb = Hebrew
hun = Hungarian
ita = Italian
    lat = Latin
jpn = Japanese
mul = multiple languages
nor = Norwegian
pol = Polish
por = Portuguese
rus = Russian
    scc = Serbian
slo = slovak
spa = Spanish
swe = Swedish
tlh = Klingon
und = undetermined (use for nonsense syllables)
See US MARC language list for a complete list of language codes.


1st indicator 0 = there is no translation of the text involved
1 = the text of the work is or includes a translation
2nd indicator = always blank

The 1st indicator applies only to the written or sung text of a work, which implies a vocal work that is sung or spoken (with a narrator).

For a vocal work, the 1st indicator is:
1 • When the written or sung text has been translated, even when the original language is also included in the work.
0 • When the written or sung text is in the original language.
      ° This includes works that always included more than one language.
      ° This does not apply when a composer sets an already-translated text to music.
   • When it is a vocal work that has not been translated and there is accompanying material, translated or not.
      OCLC documentation states "Accompanying material is not considered when determining if an item is a translation,"
      but adds "When printed music contains a translation of a vocal text printed as text, the item is considered a translation
      and use value 1."
[emphasis added]
      LC documentation merely says "0 - Item not a translation/does not include a translation; 1 - Item is or includes a translation,"
      with no instruction for application.
   • When it is an instrumental work with accompanying material that has been, translated or not.


Each language code is tagged in a separate subfield code. The former practice was to include all language codes with the same subfield tag in the same subfield. The current practice is to tag each separately.
Old practice Current practice
‡a engfreger ‡h ita ‡a eng ‡a fre ‡a ger ‡h ita
‡a engfre ‡h gerrus ‡a eng ‡a fre ‡h ger ‡h rus

Guidelines for the number of language codes to be used in any single subfield in the 041 field:
Six or fewer languages: The first code is for the predominant language (which should match the code in the fixed field (008), if applicable). The codes for the remaining languages should be input in English alphabetical order.
Seven or more languages: Use the code for the predominant language and "mul" (multiple languages) for all other languages.
Source: CSB no. 52, p. 29-33

For texts of vocal works:
The two subfields that involve the 1st indicator are:
‡a = language of the written or spoken text in a score
‡d = language of the sung or spoken text on a sound recording

For accompanying material:
Accompanying material may be words printed as text, prefatory information, poems that inspired an instrumental work, instructional material, critical report, etc. Because none of these are the sung, spoken, or written words of a vocal work, they do not affect whether the 1st indicator will be 1 or 0.
‡e = language of the words or libretto printed as text
‡g = language of accompanying material other than libretto or words

Summaries and abstracts:
‡b = language(s) of a summary or abstract

Order of subfields:
‡d should be first when present; in all other cases, ‡a should be first when present.
Multiple occurrences of the same subfields ‡a, ‡b, ‡d, ‡e, ‡f, ‡g, ‡j should be grouped together.
Single occurrences and grouped multiple occurrences of subfields ‡h, ‡m, ‡n should follow the subfield or group of subfields to which they apply.

Order of language codes within subfields:
‡a: codes should be in the order of their predominance in the resource; if no language is predominant, the codes should be in alphabetical order.
‡b (summary/abstract) and ‡f (table of contents): codes should be alphabetical

When a translation is involved in any of these categories (written, sung, or spoken text or accompanying material), the code for the original language for each category follows the coding of the final language in that category.
Changed definition:
‡h = language code(s) for the original language of the primary content of the item; this subfield follows subfield ‡a ‡d, ‡e, ‡j, ‡k
New subfields:
‡k = language code(s) for an intermediate language between the original and the current translation, where the resource was translated from an intermediate language other than the original. If subfield ‡k is present, it would precede a subfield ‡h.
‡m = language code(s) for the original language of accompanying materials other than librettos; this subfield follows subfield ‡b or ‡g
‡n = language code(s) for the original language(s) of the printed text of the vocal/textual content of the work; this subfield follows subfield ‡e

Correct Incorrect
‡a eng ‡a fre ‡a ger ‡h ita ‡a eng ‡h ita ‡a fre ‡h ita ‡a ger ‡h ita
‡a eng ‡a fre ‡h ger ‡h rus ‡a eng ‡h ger ‡h rus ‡a fre ‡h ger ‡h rus

When is an 041 field not used?

1. When it is an instrumental work with no accompanying material.
2. When it is a vocal work that has not been translated and has no accompanying material.
3. When it is a vocal work that has not been translated and has accompanying material, which is in the same language as the sung or spoken text and which has not been translated.
      ° The language code in the fixed field is sufficient.

Examples with new subfields in bold

A score of a vocal work with English and French words; French is the original language:
041 1 ‡a eng ‡a fre ‡h fre

A sound recording of songs sung in English, which were originally in German:
041 1 ‡d eng ‡h ger

A sound recording with two vocal works in English; German is the original language of the first work and Russian is the original language of the second work:
041 1 ‡d eng ‡h ger ‡h rus

A score of a vocal work with the original English text and the text printed with French and German translations:
041 0 ‡a eng ‡e eng ‡e fre ‡n ger ‡n eng

A score of an instrumental work with performance instructions in English
041 0 ‡g eng

A score of an instrumental work with performance instructions in English and French; the original language is English:
041 0 ‡g eng ‡g fre ‡m eng

A score of a vocal work in English (the original language) with a preface and words printed as text in English:
No 041 field; the language code in the fixed field is enough.

A score of a vocal work in English, French, German, and Italian (original language is German), with the words printed in all four languages and with a preface in English, French, and German (no original language is indicated):
041 1 ‡a eng ‡a fre ‡a ger ‡a ita ‡h ger ‡e eng ‡e fre ‡e ger ‡e ita ‡n ger ‡g eng ‡g fre ‡g ger

[Return to Music Cataloging at Yale] Comments to Mickey Koth Yale University Music Library
Last revised January 3, 2013.