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SKOS Core 2nd review

From: Sue Ellen Wright <sellenwright@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 13:40:39 -0400
Message-ID: <e35499310510121040o253bdbd0mecadcc838e2a6191@mail.gmail.com>
To: "Miles, AJ (Alistair)" <A.J.Miles@rl.ac.uk>, Alan Melby <melbyak@yahoo.com>, "Laurent.Romary@loria.fr" <laurent.romary@loria.fr>, Gerhard Budin <gerhard.budin@univie.ac.at>, Klaus-Dirk2 Schmitz <klaus.schmitz@fh-koeln.de>, Bodil Nistrup Madsen <bnm.id@cbs.dk>, Kara Warburton <KARA@CA.IBM.COM>
Cc: public-esw-thes@w3.org, public-swbp-wg@w3.org, "Mark van Assem (E-mail)" <mark@cs.vu.nl>, "Ralph Swick (E-mail)" <swick@w3.org>
Dear Colleagues:

On behalf of the terminology management community, I request that all
references to *terminologies* be removed from the SKOS CORE, at least for
the present time. I have highlighted glossaries as well because they
traditionally offer significantly less concept-oriented information than do
terminologies, although they are much simpler to mark up.

SKOS Core provides a model for expressing the basic structure and content of
concept schemes (thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists,
taxonomies, 'folksonomies', terminologies, glossaries and other types of
controlled vocabulary).

A 'concept scheme' is defined here as: a set of concepts, optionally
including statements about semantic relationships between those concepts.
Thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, taxonomies,
terminologies, 'folksonomies', glossaries and other types of controlled
vocabulary are all examples of concept schemes.

 The primary reason for my request is that terminologies are indeed
*NOT *controlled

A terminology as defined in ISO 1087-1 is simply: a "set of designations
belonging to one special language"

Supplemental information on terminologies includes the fact that
terminological entries are concept oriented and include the set of terms
(synonymous or equivalent) used to represent the subject concept in one or
multiple languages. Terminologies document, or in some cases, standardize,
the terms that are used in human discourse, usually in specialized
disciplines. They are not primarily used to classify, index, or retrieve
objects or information in a physical or digital collection. Ad hoc
terminologies, specifically those created within the localization industry
and in the context of corpus management, tend to reflect the totally *
uncontrolled* environment of real human discourse.

In contrast, a controlled vocabulary can be:

 [A] Glossary of terms relating to thesauri and other forms of structured
vocabulary for information retrieval

[I'm not very fond of this definition because it uses a narrower term
(thesurus) to define the broader term (controlled vocabulary).]

 [A] prescribed list of terms or headings each one having an assigned

*Controlled vocabularies are designed for use in classifying or indexing
documents and for searching them. **[*Note: terminologies are not normally
used for this purpose.*] *

 NISO draft standard Z39.19:

Z39.19: A list of terms that have been enumerated explicitly. This list is
controlled by and is available from a controlled vocabulary registration
authority. All terms in a controlled vocabulary *must *have an unambiguous,
non-redundant definition. (This definition allows for homographs provided
that they are "explicitly qualified to resolve  ambiguity". )

 "The primary purpose of vocabulary control is to achieve consistency in the
description of content objects and facilitate retrieval." (Section 1)

 In Z39.19, vocabulary control is also explicitely defined:

 vocabulary control: The process of organizing a list of terms (a) to
indicate which of two or more synonymous terms is authorized for use; (b) to
distinguish between homographs; and (c) to indicate hierarchical and
associative relationships among terms in the context of a controlled
vocabulary or subject heading list.

 Furthermore, terminologies are not listed as one of the controlled
vocabularies covered by the controlled vocabulary standards, although the
term is sometimes used in discourse as a synonym for thesauri. This can be
confusing because thesauri and terminographical terminologies look very

 Thesauri indicate or even embody relationships as their primary purpose,
whereas terminologies can contain embedded hierarchical relationships
designed for the purpose of clarifying conceptual relationships and for
explicitating characteristics to be listed in rigorous definitions. It is
desireable for the concept organizational information contained in thesauri
and terminologies to be made interchangeable and interoperable, but it is
not necessarily useful or desirable for them to be forced to duplicate each
other. Neither traditional terminologies nor traditional thesauri feature
rules such as we find in ontologies, but again, the hierarchical
relationships expressed in all three systems can serve as information
portals for the purpose of mediating interoperability among the systems.

 Laurent Romary, Alan Melby, Stella Dextre Clarke and I have all expressed
the opinion that the current SKOS framework is inappropriate for expressing
the information found in traditional terminologies, although I do think that
in the long run it can easily be applied for expressing just the concept
hierarchies embedded in these resources. This process is not just a question
of expressing TMF (ISO 16642) or TBX (LISA's TermBase eXchange format) in
rdf, however. Of course TMF represents a system of relations, but not all
the relations are of the sort addressed by SKOS. We can indeed work out rdf
representations for those relations, but the result will still not
necessarily be compatible with the current SKOS. Generally Alan, Laurent and
I feel that down the road, perhaps in the course of our further work on
concept systems in the TC 37 environment, we may want to address the notion
of an extension for terminologies with regard to SKOS. Currently we have to
focus on the completion of work on our Data Category Registry (MDR) for all
the language resources under elaboration in TC 37. Until then, it is better
not to confuse the issue by implying that terminolgies are already covered
by SKOS.
 We look forward to tracking the development of SKOS and to contributing to
the interoperability of concept schemes in the future.
 Best regards
Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen Wright
Institute for Applied Linguistics
Kent State University
Kent OH 44242 USA
Received on Thursday, 13 October 2005 05:10:05 UTC

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