[tdwg-content] FW: Darwin Core vernacularName field

Amanda Neill aneill at brit.org
Thu Jul 21 17:38:55 CEST 2011

I've often thought that when we talk about common/vernacular names we
are speaking at two different levels of application.  Many (most?)
herbarium specimen labels do not include any vernacular name.  Those
object records would therefore have nothing in the vernacularName
element, and would not be found in a database by searching with a
vernacular name.  However, one can also (perhaps more appropriately)
apply vernacular name at the level of taxon, and well-designed
interfaces might display this for ALL specimen objects belonging to that
taxon, also allowing all specimens to be located and retrieved when a
user searches by vernacular name only.  But we must be able to represent
BOTH vernacularName from the object label AND vernacularName as commonly
applied to the taxon (because these might differ regionally).  Can the
DwC element do both?


I too feel it is useful to indicate the language of the vernacular name
and concatenate multiple vernacular names.  One way we have done it is
parenthetically: "Chives (English); Ciboulette (French)" but that may
not be the right way to do it.



Amanda K. Neill |  Director of the Herbarium (BRIT-SMU-VDB) |  BRIT
<http://www.brit.org/>  |  817.546.1842 |  817.332.4112 fax  |  BRIT.org
<http://www.brit.org/>   | 1700 University Dr., Fort Worth, TX
76107-3400 USA | Think Before You Print




From: tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org
[mailto:tdwg-content-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On Behalf Of Geoffrey Allen
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:24 AM
To: tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
Subject: [tdwg-content] Darwin Core vernacularName field




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


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



            <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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