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RE: Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and faceted classifica tion

From: Miles, AJ (Alistair) <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 13:47:55 -0000
Message-ID: <F5839D944C66C049BDB45F4C1E3DF89D18DB3C@exchange31.fed.cclrc.ac.uk>
To: "'public-esw-thes@w3.org'" <public-esw-thes@w3.org>

Hi all,

Tom B wrote: 
> 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

I second this.  

Tom B wrote:
> 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)?

In my head I distinguish 'semantic mappings' which are statements about the
relative meaning of concepts from different vocabularies, and 'lexical
mappings' which are statements about the relationships between concepts from
different vocabularies based on some sort of mathematical comparison of
their lexical labels.  

An example of a semantic mapping assertion (in natural language):

"The concept C in vocabulary X is identical in meaning to the concept D in
vocabulary Y."

An example of a lexical mapping assertion (in natural language):

"The edit distance between the preferred label for concept C from vocab X
and the preferred label for concept D from vocab Y is zero (i.e. they have
identical preferred lexical labels)."

(Edit distance is a metric for comparing two strings [1]).

Tom B wrote: 
> Finally, the terms "vocabulary" and "language" are not
> themselves defined in the glossary.

Definitions for these would be nice, if a little difficult to settle on :)

Tom B 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...".

I myself never refer to a concept in a SKOS concept scheme as a "term" in a
"vocabulary", because of the possibility for confusion.  I've tried to keep
"term" out of all SKOS Core documentation for the same reason.  As far as
I'm concerned there is no such thing as a "SKOS term" (although I know what
you're saying Tom, I'm just trying to discourage use of ambiguous
terminology :)



[1] http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~lloyd/tildeAlgDS/Dynamic/Edit/

> Tom
> -- 
> Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
> Institutszentrum Schloss Birlinghoven         mobile +49-160-9664-2129
> Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft                          work +49-30-8109-9027
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> Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
Received on Monday, 17 January 2005 13:48:30 UTC

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