[openbiblio-dev] BibJSON and multiple languages

Mark MacGillivray mark at odaesa.com
Wed Mar 7 12:31:48 UTC 2012

Hi Roderic, thanks for contacting us, this is really interesting

On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 12:00 PM, Roderic Page <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk> wrote:
> Apologies in advance if this has been covered before.

No problem, and not covered yet.

> The BibJSON spec, like most bibliographic data formats assumes that the
> publication is in one language. I often come across articles in multiple
> languages (e.g., the article, abstract, and body of the text is in
> Portuguese, but an English title and abstract are also provided). Note that
> this differs from a complete translation of the article (which can be
> treated as a separate thing).
> The ability to easily add metadata elements in different languages to
> supplement to main language would be handy, especially when indexing. For
> example, I'm building a database with numerous articles in Chinese. It would
> be useful to provide the metadata in both Chinese and English. But I might
> not be providing all the metadata, it may be just the title, authors and
> abstract that need to be represented more than once. At the same time, I'd
> like to avoid having complicating things. For example, I don't want to have
> to specify the language if there's only one.
> Has anybody got a similar problem. Obviously I could hack something that
> meets my needs, but something more general might be useful.

I do not have a similar problem, but the first thing that comes to
mind would be to specify your default language in your record, then
specify your alternates as a different version of the record under an
item in the record. So for example:

  "title": "great title",
  "author": [{...}],
  "lang": "en",
  "lang_alternate": [
      "lang": "jp",
      "title": "title in japanese",

OR perhaps a better, more extensible approach, but more complex, would
be to use the JSON-LD method of specifying languages:


We are currently leaning towards adopting JSON-LD methods for doing
namespaces, so any JSON-LD methods for languages could also be


> Regards
> Rod
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Roderic Page
> Professor of Taxonomy
> Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
> College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
> Graham Kerr Building
> University of Glasgow
> Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
> Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
> Tel: +44 141 330 4778
> Fax: +44 141 330 2792
> AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
> Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
> Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
> Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html
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