Controlled Vocabularies Aid Translation and Content Management

This thread is bringing up another question for me.

I am working on a couple of ontologies (that include defining a conceptual
framework, metadata and controlled vocabularies to ensure consistency
across distributed development teams) but somhow i never considered myself
as part of the documentaiton team.
Should I?

I consider myself as part of the referential consistency team.

Please advise

Paola Di Maio

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Hamish Harvey" <>
To: "Karl Dubost" <>
Cc: "Semantic Web" <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 04, 2006 4:33 PM
Subject: Re: Controlled Vocabularies Aid Translation and Content Management

> Karl,
> In Europe, and particularly in research projects funded by the
> European Commission, I predict the gradual emergence of a new language
> in a process of divergent evolution. Projects set out to establish
> glossaries, even "languages", for the subject area, explicitly or
> implicitly. The debate around the definitions of terms can take place
> with remarkably little input from native English speakers. The result
> is usages which (sometimes subtly, sometimes not) conflict with
> regular English. A controlled vocabulary established in this sort of
> context may well suffer the same fate: it will look like English, but
> will be misinterpreted by people who have a good understanding of
> English.
> I was heartily entertained, and not a little frustrated, a year or two
> ago by a heated debate about the meaning of a word which appeared
> repeatedly in the description of work of an EC funded project. Here
> another pressure was at work: a definition needed to be imparted to
> the word which reflected what the project could actually produce. The
> word, in this case, was "toolbox"; having no very firm meaning when
> used metaphorically it was of course susceptible to misdefinition. The
> definition established in the end was essentially that of the term
> "catalogue".
> The article Karl links to makes some good points about good writing
> style, even providing supporting examples. It seems to make only
> unsupported assertions about the benefits of use of controlled
> vocabularies, however. Good writing style is a matter of education and
> training. If the creators of technical documentation don't see any
> need to invest in that, surely it is a pipe dream to imagine they will
> invest considerably more to establish and ensure the effective use of
> controlled vocabularies?
> Generally, it would surely be better for documentation writers to
> think hard about how what they write might be interpreted by a variety
> of human readers than to expend effort ensuring it conforms with some
> set of rules. It will be possible to write badly to any set of rules
> sufficiently flexible to write documentation to.
> Cheers,
> Hamish
> -- 
> Hamish Harvey
> Research Associate, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences,
> Newcastle University

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Received on Wednesday, 4 October 2006 10:21:32 UTC