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How to express multiple labels in ISO languages

From: Clay Redding <cred@loc.gov>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 11:37:00 -0400
Message-Id: <47E24C5D0200006A00024D8A@ntgwgate.loc.gov>
To: <public-swd-wg@w3.org>

Hi all,

I would welcome some advice on how to approach labeling of language codes for ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2, which are both maintained by my office here at the Library of Congress.  This also applies somewhat to ISO 639-3, whose maintenance agency (SIL International) has raised a similar issue, so I'm told.

Each language in 639 has a code (notation) and a label in both English and French.  For some languages, there are multiple labels for each language.  For example:

http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/langcodes_name.php?iso_639_1=cu

When I made my first attempt at representing this in SKOS, I "blessed" the first label for the English and French and called them prefLabels.  Every other label became an altLabel.  e.g.:

<skos:Concept rdf:about="http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/langcodes_name.php?iso_639_1=cu">
  <skos:prefLabel xml:lang="x-notation">cu</skos:prefLabel>
  <skos:prefLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Church Slavic</skos:prefLabel>
  <skos:prefLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">slavon d'église</skos:prefLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Old Slavonic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Church Slavonic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Old Bulgarian</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Old Church Slavonic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">vieux slave</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">slavon liturgique</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">vieux bulgare</skos:altLabel>
</skos:Concept>

The expert in my office on ISO 639, as well as some her contacts at SIL, have balked at blessing any of the labels over the others because people who speak those languages can feel politically charged about default labeling.  The experts suggest that these multiple labels should either all be prefLabels, or they should all be altLabels.  As an alternative, my office has wondered if the code alone could be the prefLabel, and if the fuller labels could be altLabels, which seems intriguing.  I'm not sure if that goes against best practices.  Jakob Voss recently recommended using notations in prefLabel as well, but coupled with a fuller human-readable labels [1].  This would look like:

<skos:Concept rdf:about="http://www.loc.gov/standards/iso639-2/php/langcodes_name.php?iso_639_1=cu">
  <skos:prefLabel xml:lang="x-notation">cu</skos:prefLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Church Slavic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">slavon d'église</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Old Slavonic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Church Slavonic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Old Bulgarian</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="en-Latn">Old Church Slavonic</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">vieux slave</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">slavon liturgique</skos:altLabel>
  <skos:altLabel xml:lang="fr-Latn">vieux bulgare</skos:altLabel>
</skos:Concept>

Have you any recommendations on how to make this work in SKOS?  I'm not at all attached to either of these examples I've provided.  Should Collections or Labeling Relations be used instead?  For right now my main concern is 639-1 as its own ConceptScheme.  I'll work bottom up from there toward -2, etc., making relationships along the way.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-swd-wg/2008Jan/0211.html

Thanks,
Clay
Received on Thursday, 20 March 2008 15:39:05 GMT

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