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Re: Getting back to "terms"...

From: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 14:45:09 +0000
Message-ID: <AcBtoZI11iBCFALj@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
To: SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>
Cc: Alan Gilchrist <cura@fastnet.co.uk>, Ron Davies <ron@rondavies.be>

In message <20050206131725.GB1748@Octavius> on Sun, 6 Feb 2005, Thomas 
Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de> wrote
>On Sat, Feb 05, 2005 at 08:47:08PM +0000, Leonard Will wrote:
>> It sounds fine to me, and as nobody has raised serious objections I have
>> added it to the glossary at
>> <http://www.willpowerinfo.co.uk/glossary.htm>. I hope that is OK.
>I was noticing that "term" is still defined using "identify".
>I had suggested this be changed to "label" and thought you
>were agreeing (see digest below).

Yes, sorry, I overlooked that one. Now changed.

>On further reflection, however, I am still bothered by the potential 
>for confusion between the notion of a "thesaurus term" (a lexical or 
>natural-language label, which may _sometimes_ also be a descriptor 
>identifying a concept) and an SKOS or Dublin Core "term" (a concept, or 
>unit of thought, identified with a URI and labelled with 
>natural-language "labels").
>If the Glossary is to be both SKOS-compatible and 
>thesaurus-world-compatible, this poses a tricky problem, because I'm 
>not sure "term" itself can be defined generically enough to encompass 

Yes, it would be a pity if there were confusion, but I do think that 
this is a SKOS problem, because using the word "term" as equivalent to 
"concept" is very misleading. We have been struggling for some time to 
emphasise the distinction between these two things. Is the usage you 
quote officially recognised by the Dublin Core people too? Can you give 
a reference?

>However, one step in the right direction could be to avoid using "term" 
>itself as a synonym for label (as the glossary currently does). 
>Instead of equating "term" with "thesaurus term", one could perhaps 
>    thesaurus term
>        word or phrase used as the label for a concept
>        Thesaurus terms can be either preferred terms
>        or non-preferred terms.
>            or
>        Thesaurus terms can be either preferred labels or
>        non-preferred labels.
>    term
>        name, word, or phrase used as an identifier or label for a concept

I don't think that there is sufficient distinction in the definitions 
you give for "thesaurus term" and "term" for the difference to be clear 
to the normal reader. I would assume that "thesaurus term" means "a term 
found in a thesaurus", and I don't think that that adds enough to be 
worth including.

>    concept
>        unit of thought
>        ...Concepts exist in the mind as abstract entities independent
>        of the words or phrases used to express them.

For the moment I have changed this to:

... Concepts exist in the mind as abstract entities which are 
independent of the terms used to label them.

>    label
>        words or phrases associated with (or "used to
>        express"?) an abstract entity

I don't think that this is sufficiently distinct from "term" as defined 

>    identifier
>        an unambiguous reference to an abstract entity within a given
>        context

I know that this has s specialised meaning in SKOS work. If it is to be 
understood more generally, the definition you give would need to be 
expanded or clarified with examples.

I'll copy this to my colleagues Alan and Ron on the BSI working party, 
in case they have any views. Stella will get it anyway as she is on the 
SKOS list.


Willpower Information       (Partners: Dr Leonard D Will, Sheena E Will)
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L.Will@Willpowerinfo.co.uk               Sheena.Will@Willpowerinfo.co.uk
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Received on Sunday, 6 February 2005 14:46:28 UTC

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