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Re: Issue : unicity of prefLabel per language per concept scheme

From: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2007 11:26:07 +0000
Message-ID: <CbtCTPGPf+UHFA2l@mail.willpowerinfo.co.uk>
To: SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

On Mon, 3 Dec 2007 at 10:53:49, Bernard Vatant 
<bernard.vatant@mondeca.com> wrote
>I've in mind controlled vocabularies in law, where the same term is 
>used in different contexts to label different concepts, the 
>disambiguation being by context. The context itself is usually formally 
>represented by a path to the concept in the broader-narrower tree, 
>e.g., the following are four distinct concepts all using the term 
>"Children custody" in different contexts, but in the same Concept 
>Scheme "Divorce".
>Contentious divorce: Temporary arrangements: Children custody
>Contentious divorce: Definitive arrangements: Children custody
>Non-contentious divorce: Temporary arrangements: Children custody
>Non-contentious divorce: Definitive arrangements: Children custody
>In such cases, encapsulating the context in the prefLabel string is 
>rapidly cumbersome in interfaces, the context chain can become 
>arbitrarily long in such matters.

It seems to me that "Children custody" represents the same concept in 
each of these cases - something like "care of and responsibility for 
children". The cases are different because the strings represent 
compound concepts, combining the concept of "children custody" with two 
other concepts in each case.

Similarly, in Alasdair's example, it seems to me that the concept of a 
canyon can be defined irrespective of the body on which it happens to be 

As far as I know, SKOS does not (yet) deal with such strings, combining 
concepts together, but just with the elementary concepts or building 
blocks from which strings can be constructed.

There is a rather different case where a single term may have different 
meanings, depending on context, such as "operations" which has a 
different meaning if its broader term is "surgical activities" or 
"military activities". In this case there are three options, which I 
don't think are covered by SKOS:

1. Treat the whole string as a single concept label, which as Bernard 
says becomes cumbersome (and confusing).

2. Do not use the term as a preferred label to identify the concept, but 
use some other unique notation instead.

3. Add a distinguishing qualifier to the term, e.g. "operations 
(surgery)" / "operations (military)", or change the term to "surgical 
operations" or "military operations". This is not an option if the 
objective is to encode a pre-existing vocabulary that is not within your 

I don't think that there is a simple solution until SKOS is developed to 
handle strings of concepts rather than elementary concepts. This gets 
into the whole area of representing subject headings and classification 
schemes, which is a non-trivial extension.

Leonard Will
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, 3 December 2007 11:26:40 UTC

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