[tdwg-content] Darwin Core vernacularName field

Hilmar Lapp hlapp at nescent.org
Fri Jul 22 15:46:16 CEST 2011

There are W3C standards for expressing (tagging) the language of  
elements in an XML document [1], which is built into the XML standard  
(the xml:lang attribute), and for the language of strings in RDF  
documents [2] (like this: "some string"@en-US). The tags for languages  
are also standardized [3].

I'd strongly recommend against reinventing mechanisms for this - XML  
is for exchanging, and not displaying information. Reinventions of the  
standard (like the below, or putting the language into parentheses)  
typically appear motivated by how one would like to display the  
information - that's what XSLT or custom programming is for, though.

Using the notation for text in RDF, you could easily enumerate several  
strings, each tagged with a different language and perhaps delimited  
by comma, for a single instance of DwC-A field.


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/xml-i18n-bp/#AuthLang
[2] http://www.w3.org/2007/OWL/wiki/InternationalizedStringSpec#Preliminaries
[3] http://www.w3.org/International/questions/qa-choosing-language-tags

On Jul 21, 2011, at 11:23 AM, Geoffrey Allen wrote:

> Greeting,
> 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:
> <vernacularName>
> 	<English>Chives</English>
> 	<French>Ciboulette, brulotte</French>
> </vernacularName>
> 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
> --------------------------------------------
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> tdwg-content mailing list
> tdwg-content at lists.tdwg.org
> http://lists.tdwg.org/mailman/listinfo/tdwg-content

: Hilmar Lapp  -:- Durham, NC -:- informatics.nescent.org :

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