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Re: Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and faceted classification

From: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de>
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 06:00:24 +0100
To: Leonard Will <L.Will@willpowerinfo.co.uk>
Cc: SKOS <public-esw-thes@w3.org>, Alan Gilchrist <cura@fastnet.co.uk>, Ron Davies <ron@rondavies.be>
Message-ID: <20050117050024.GA1284@Octavius>

On Sun, Jan 16, 2005 at 08:31:52PM +0000, Leonard Will wrote:
> >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...".
> If SKOS uses "term" as a synonym for "concept", I think that that is 
> unfortunate. Apart from the fact that the natural-language 
> interpretations of the two words are quite different, a controlled 
> vocabulary such as that of SKOS terminology should ideally not contain 
> two words for the same thing. (Or are you saying that in SKOS a concept 
> only becomes a "term" once it is
> identified with a URI and labelled with natural-language "labels"?)

Not quite...  I am not talking about the thesaurus concepts
that are described using the SKOS Core vocabulary but the
"terms" of the SKOS Core vocabulary itself -- terms such as
Collection [1] or even Concept [2].  As in: "The base namespace
for all terms in the SKOS Core vocabulary is..." and "Each term
(i.e.  class or property) in the SKOS Core vocabulary..." [3].

> We may have to accept a certain looseness of meaning, though, because 
> even in the thesaurus community it is conventional to talk of broader, 
> narrower and related terms (BT, NT, RT) whereas it would really be more 
> correct to speak about broader, narrower and related concepts.

I agree.

To muddy the waters yet further: in the draft SPARQL spec,
an "RDF Term" is defined as "anything that can occur in the
RDF data model" -- i.e., literals and URI references! [4]

This is somewhat in line with the notion that a vocabulary is a
"set of URI references" [5,6].  (Or is it...?)

I do not see any way around the "term" problem other than to
specify what one means in a particular context ("thesaurus
term", "SKOS term", "RDF term"...).


[1] http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core#Collection
[2] http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core#Concept
[3] http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core/spec/2004-12-17.html
[4] http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-sparql-query/
[5] http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-mt/
[6] http://www.w3.org/2003/glossary/subglossary/owl-guide.rdf/20

Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
Institutszentrum Schloss Birlinghoven         mobile +49-160-9664-2129
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Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
Received on Monday, 17 January 2005 04:58:38 UTC

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