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Re: Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and faceted classification

From: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de>
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2005 16:02:24 +0100
To: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@w3.org>
Cc: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>, SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>, Stella Dextre Clarke <sdclarke@lukehouse.demon.co.uk>, Alan Gilchrist <cura@fastnet.co.uk>, Ron Davies <ron@rondavies.be>
Message-ID: <20050115150223.GA1840@Octavius>

On Thu, Jan 13, 2005 at 05:57:15PM -0500, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> A 3 beer bounty for a SKOS version... And a 10 beer bonus for one that
> includes the details of making it into SKOS.
> >I have put up a glossary of terms relating to thesauri, faceted
> >classification and related topics at
> ><http://www.willpowerinfo.co.uk/glossary.htm>.


With SKOS-compatibility in mind, one point of possible
confusion catches my eye: the term "term".  In the glossary,
"term" is defined as a "word or phrase used to identify
a concept".

In SKOS, however, a "term" is a member of the SKOS vocabulary
-- it is a "class or property". In SKOS, the class or property
is "identified" with a URI and associated with words or
phrases called "labels".

Saying in the glossary that a term is a "word or phrase used
to _label_ a concept" would seem to be one step closer to
SKOS -- and perhaps even without sacrificing clarity, because
"identity" per se is not otherwise discussed in the glossary
(though the notion of a descriptor as a term which "represents"
a concept could be construed to be about identification) [1].

The ambiguity about "term" is mirrored in the definition of
"mapping", which talks about establishing relationships among
"terms, notions or concepts" across two vocabularies, and
in the definition of "target vocabulary," which is defined
first in terms of "terms" and then in terms of "concepts".
This ambiguity seems confusing.  Could one not say that mapping
is something that is done between concepts -- even if those
concepts are "represented" by descriptors (i.e., terms)?

Finally, the terms "vocabulary" and "language" are not
themselves defined in the glossary.

These problems could perhaps be addressed with careful wording.
However, I'm not sure much can be done to avoid the terminology
clash between a thesaurus "term" (a natural-language label,
which may sometimes also be a descriptor identifying a concept)
and an SKOS "term" (a concept, or unit of thought, identified
with a URI and labelled with natural-language "labels").
Both uses of "term" are fundamental to their respective
communities.  "Term" is perhaps one of those words that is
doomed to have multiple functions -- e.g. even in the title:
a "Glossary of terms...".


[1] The definition of "vocabulary control" would also need
to replace "identify" with "label".

Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
Institutszentrum Schloss Birlinghoven         mobile +49-160-9664-2129
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft                          work +49-30-8109-9027
53754 Sankt Augustin, Germany                    fax +49-2241-144-2352
Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
Received on Saturday, 15 January 2005 15:00:43 UTC

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