[openbiblio-dev] Multilingual matters in BibJSON

Karen Coyle kcoyle at kcoyle.net
Thu Apr 5 11:24:01 UTC 2012

Multilingual issues and JSON-LD came up on the Open Biblio call this 
week (which was Adrian, Jim and I). I'm interested in being able to use 
multilingual thesauri, which are beginning to be created using linked 
data by linking terms from thesauri in different languages, as well as 
thesauri that were "born multilingual."

Assigning languages to descriptive metadata *text* can be tricky. That 
doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, but in some cases there may be best 
ways to handle the issue. For example, I know that there is often an 
interest in translated titles. You might have articles in Russian or 
Japanese that have the title translated into English. In that case, it 
is probably best to have a field for "translated title" so that you know 
that "title" is the original. However, if you have a title that is:

"Marie Antoinette"

it's a bit hard to say what language it is in. Such a title would rarely 
be translated, but there are examples in scientific literature where a 
scientific term is used the same across different languages.

The caution is that it will not be possible to assign language to all 
titles, and that in many cases the only language designation needed in a 
bibliographic description is that of the text itself. In those special 
cases where language is needed, it is good to think about the 
circumstances, such as with titles that are translated, and seek a 
solution that helps the user understand the context for the language 


On 4/5/12 12:25 PM, Mark MacGillivray wrote:
> Hi Christian,
> Thanks a lot for joining the list.
> On Apr 5, 2012 4:28 AM, "Christian Wittern" <cwittern at gmail.com
> <mailto:cwittern at gmail.com>> wrote:
>  > Although it might look like a nuisance now, it will be much easier to
> take the necessary steps for this at an early stage, rather than having
> to redesign a successful system later on.
> Agreed.
>  > So please, reconsider allowing multilingual objects as suggested in
> the JSON-LD specification!
> Previous discussions at our March sprint led those of us present to
> believe that adopting JSON-LD would also be suitable for other issues we
> have, so it is interesting that you also recommend it for the languages
> issue. The only reason I have not written more about this on our blog
> yet is that I was hoping to hear back from the JSON-LD list with some
> feedback for our group before recommending, but I have not had a
> response yet. Are you able to give us confirmation that the JSON-LD
> approach would be suitable to solve language issues for your use cases?
>  > I had to give these two yen, since I have seen this mistake made so
> often and really don't want to see it again, but of course you are
> completely free to ignore this peace of advice:-)
> Your comments are appreciated, and I hope to hear more from you - thanks
> for the help!
> Mark
>  >
>  > Chris
>  >
>  > --
>  > Christian Wittern, Kyoto
>  >
>  >
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Karen Coyle
kcoyle at kcoyle.net http://kcoyle.net
ph: 1-510-540-7596
m: 1-510-435-8234
skype: kcoylenet

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