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RE: Getting back to "terms"...

From: Stella Dextre Clarke <sdclarke@lukehouse.demon.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2005 15:28:06 -0000
To: "'Miles, AJ \(Alistair\)'" <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>, <public-esw-thes@w3.org>
Message-ID: <001901c50d29$9f8ceb40$0700a8c0@DELL>

I don't want to get too embroiled in the definition of "term" ( the
layman's usage is good enough for me) but there is one aspect I see as
important. We need to retain a distinction between using a "term" to
denote/label/identify a concept, as in a thesaurus, and using a
"notation" to denote/label/identify a concept, as in traditional
classification schemes. Notations are typically strings of characters
(numeric, alphabetic and/or special symbols) that are independent of
natural languages. I would not like to see a definition of term so wide
that it included notation, because that would make it even harder to
articulate the differences between classification schemes and thesauri
PS Despite Alistair's reservations, classification "schemes" have always
been called that, long before anyone started talking about schema. I
suspect "concept schemes" got there by analogy. No reason to stick with
it, if someone thinks of a better name, but at least that one is
instantly intelligible to information professionals.

Stella Dextre Clarke
Information Consultant
Luke House, West Hendred, Wantage, Oxon, OX12 8RR, UK
Tel: 01235-833-298
Fax: 01235-863-298

-----Original Message-----
From: public-esw-thes-request@w3.org
[mailto:public-esw-thes-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Miles, AJ
Sent: 07 February 2005 13:03
To: public-esw-thes@w3.org
Subject: RE: Getting back to "terms"...

Hi all,

> >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" 

I think 'term' on its own is far too overloaded, and would avoid trying
to define it - it's only good for informal prose.  

However, I think the following could be usefully defined (some
suggestions from me):

'RDF term' (defined precisely in:
'RDF vocabulary' - a set of RDF terms (can't find an existing definition
anywhere) 'Natural language term' - a word or phrase used to
denote/label a concept. 'Descriptor' - a natural language term that is
the preferred label for a concept. 'Non-descriptor' - a natural language
term that is the non-preferred (alternative) label for a concept. 'DCMI
metadata term' - (Tom how would you define this?  Different from 'RDF



> >
> >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
> >both.
> 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 
> >define:
> >
> >    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 
> above.
> >    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.
> Leonard
> -- 
> Willpower Information       (Partners: Dr Leonard D Will, 
> Sheena E Will)
> Information Management Consultants              Tel: +44 
> (0)20 8372 0092
> 27 Calshot Way, Enfield, Middlesex EN2 7BQ, UK. Fax: +44
> (0)870 051 7276
> L.Will@Willpowerinfo.co.uk               
> Sheena.Will@Willpowerinfo.co.uk
> ---------------- <URL:http://www.willpowerinfo.co.uk/> 
> -----------------
Received on Monday, 7 February 2005 15:28:03 UTC

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