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Porting Terminologies to the Semantic Web

Terminologies have been developed for years in the closed world of enterprises, targeting the specific technical needs or specific communities of users. Their aim is to ease semantic interoperability across resources and systems dealing with well-defined, vertical domains. On the other hand, Semantic Web technologies and the growing Linked Data Cloud are deploying in a global scope, using a unified system of identifiers (URI), a generic data model (RDF) and the universal HTTP protocol to identify and exchange description of resources.

The glue between the terminology world and the Semantic Web will be ensured by nothing but vocabularies published in RDF, and currently SKOS is the favourite language for such publication. But SKOS has been built on a concept-centric model, leveraging mainly the thesaurus world, standards and best practices. In SKOS, concepts and their semantic relationships are defined independently of the terms used to name them (labels). SKOS is quickly becoming the lingua franca to migrate legacy vocabularies to the Semantic Web across the librarian community.

The SKOS-XL extension makes provision for description of terms themselves, considering them as first-order citizens, allowing the description of more specific relationships to concepts than just “preferred” and “alternative”, as well as other fine-grained information such as context of use, translation, acronyms, lexical variants. But does this (non-normative) extension meet the requirements of terminologists? Does it meet the requirements of terminology standards such as developed by ISO/TC 37? How is the terminology community involved in this process?

As approaches to this issue, the speaker first quickly presented the model underlying the new management system for EUROVOC, a vocabulary presenting itself as a thesaurus, but with extensions of expressivity at the terminological level. Bernard also looked at the initiative, which proposes a semiotic approach to terminology in the Semantic Web framework.

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