[tdwg-content] Darwin Core vernacularName field

Geoffrey Allen gsallen at unb.ca
Thu Jul 21 17:23:40 CEST 2011


I have recently begun the process of digitising the 60,000 specimen vouchers from the UNB herbarium. The textual data for 40,000+ of those has already been entered into a database, and I am now trying to map those values to DwC so that we may share the data with other collections.

I have some concern over the fact that simple DwC does not allow the repetition or extension of certain fields. The vernacularName field is a particular problem. New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province, as such, our specimens are all identified with both their English and French common names in the database. It would be very useful if we could extend DwC, creating something along the lines of <vernacularName lang=en>, or allow nesting of elements, perhaps in the form:
	<French>Ciboulette, brulotte</French>

The other option, as I see it, is that we store the English and French common names in our own fields, and then concatenate the two to create the DwC:vernacularName field. I see this option as less than ideal since it may hinder search/browsability. It may also cause a host of other problems from interpreting to storing the data. The herbarium with whom we first intent to share the data has already expressed a concern that their system cannot handle the diacritics found in many of the French names (!). They would like the Eng. common names, but not the French. This is more difficult to achieve if we concat the values.

One additional thought is that the herbarium's imprint, _Flora of New Brunswick_, also includes common names in Maliseet and Mi'kmaq wherever possible. Although these two aboriginal languages do not currently exist in the dataset we are using, there is the potential that they may be added at some point in the future. 

It seems to me that the repetition of fields may be necessary in other instances too. I am having some difficulty figuring out how to record all the location data we have for the specimens, which are indicated using verbal descriptions, Lat/Long, UTM, and NTS coordinates - in many cases using all 4 for a single sample, but I will save the details for another posting.

I will watch for the group's thoughts on this problem.

Many thanks,

Geoffrey Allen
Digital Projects Librarian
Electronic Text Centre
Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, NB  E3B 5H5
Tel: (506) 447-3250
Fax: (506) 453-4595
gsallen at unb.ca

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