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Re: Dublin Core and multiple element concern

From: Graham Klyne <Graham.Klyne@MIMEsweeper.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 11:44:34 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: Pat Hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Cc: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
At 10:09 AM 2/11/02 -0600, Pat Hayes wrote:
>Im beginning to wonder quite what the point of the lang tag is supposed to 
>be. Up to now Ive been thinking of it as a kind of datatype, but is that 
>really appropriate? The basic reason for having datatyping is to allow a 
>single literal to have many meanings. But that really isnt an issue with 
>lang, right? I mean, nobody is going to think that a German title is an 
>English title, and even in Canada when they write 'sauce soy sauce' on the 
>bottles, its clear which part is English and which part is French. So I 
>guess the point of lang is really to *record* the fact of the matter about 
>which languae the literal is written in; its really a fact about the 
>literal (string) rather than anything like a datatyping mapping applied to 
>the literal. (I mean, what would the value space be for, say, lang:en ? It 
>would be the identity on English strings and nothing on others, 
>persumably. But if we are dealing with titles, almost anything *could* be 
>an English string, eg "10", or an Italian string ("8&1/2"), or whatever. )

There are situations in which it may be important for a *machine* to know 
the language of a literal;  e.g. when doing text-to-speech transcoding, or 
Google-like content searches.

I think the distinction between recording a fact and mapping the meaning 
can become a bit blurred.  But I suppose you're right in the sense that the 
language doesn't have any effect on the interpretation of literals as far 
as pure RDF semantics are concerned.

>All of which leads me to think that the proper way to handle lang would be 
>as a property of a literal, if only we had properties of literals....

Yes, that would be nice.

But isn't a datatype also used as a kind of property of a literal?  Maybe a 
language tag could be a datatype class whose literal and value spaces are 
just character strings, with identity mapping, for the purposes of RDF 


Graham Klyne                    MIMEsweeper Group
Strategic Research              <http://www.mimesweeper.com>
Received on Tuesday, 12 February 2002 07:28:25 UTC

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