Plural vs Singular concepts, was there a resolution? (Was: Re: Ontology dynamics and vocabulary best practice
thomas at astro.umd.edu
Mon Nov 19 10:45:25 PST 2007
Was there ever a vote on whether we are using singular or plural
to define concepts? I don't understand the argument to define plural
concepts...this makes it difficult to actually define individuals or
instances of a concept if every concept has built into it a plurality.
It also makes it difficult to auto-grab these terms from a dictionary,
(I have been thinking of writing a script to scarf up terms from online
dictionaries to insert under skos:definition).
ps. Ed has created a singular version of the thesaurus in SKOS.
On Tuesday 23 October 2007, Frederic V. Hessman wrote:
> > Pointer number one: an annotated bibliography of documents and web
> > pages concerned with taxonomy and thesaurus management. This is at
> > <http://www.nglis.org.uk/tipsbib.htm> (that document is Word-only,
> > but it seems they're going to put a PDF version there soon, and
> > there's an older PDF version at <http://www.govtalk.gov.uk/
> > documents/ Bibliography2005-05-11.pdf>). This came from a chat with
> > a (paper) archivist colleague at Glasgow.
> Thanks for these tips, Norman.
> I flipped through a few of the entries - ugh! All very interesting,
> but it would be nice to have someone be able to step back, glance
> around, and give us a few last (!) tips. For instance at the
> Introductory Tutorial on Thesaurus Construction, http://
> instruct.uwo.ca/gplis/677/thesaur/main00.htm#contents , I found the
> Standardizing the Form of Words
> Terms collected should already be nouns or noun phrases. Here are
> some further guidelines for the form that terms should take in your
> final thesaurus.
> Plural for things that can be counted
> Singular for "mass" nouns
> Singular for processes, properties, and conditions
> Not inverted
> "RADAR ANTENNAS"
> (rather than "ANTENNAS, RADAR")
> Excluding prepositions
> "CARBOHYDRATE METABOLISM"
> (rather than "METABOLISM OF CARBOHYDRATES")
> Excluding punctuation marks, diacritics, special characters, and
> "COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS"
> (rather than "CO-OPERATIVE PROGRAMS" or "COÖPERATIVE PROGRAMS")
> "MUSICAL NOTES"
> (rather than "(MUSICAL) NOTES" or "MUS. NOTES"
> I'm not sure what a "mass noun" is - probably those with no separate
> plural (like "deer" and "information"?), but otherwise the rules
> sounds reasonable and we've basically been following them (i.e. the
> IAU thesaurus probably followed them). Well, do we use "pre main
> sequence stars" or "premain sequence stars" or can we simply keed
> "pre-main sequence stars" (stars are "countable" so "stars" rather
> than "star")? Like all rules, I'm sure they are also made to be
> I'll go through our list and see what things might need to be changed
> based on these rules (assuming that we can keep a few hyphens after
> > The 'Art and Architecture Thesaurus' is reportedly a much-cited
> > model of good practice. It appears that archives people do indeed
> > have drummed into them the substantial costs involved in creating
> > or maintaining thesauri.
> There are orders of magnitude more arts and architecture people out
> there, so we shouldn't be too bashful about just now accepting the
> idea that a thesaurus might be a good idea ;-)
> On the other hand, the Art&Arch thesaurus has lots of nuances which
> we really don't want to get into (yet):
> "=" for exact equivalence
> "+/-" for inexact equivalence ("more or less")
> "<" for partial equivalence
> "+" for single-to-multiple equivalence
> "NE" for non-equivalence
> or how about this section to make life complicated:
> IX. Plural and Singular Term Forms
> The ISO standards recommend that each language be displayed following
> its national standard even if this results in parallel displays in
> both the singular and the plural. ISO 5964 states that in general the
> singular is preferred in French and German thesauri, while the plural
> is preferred in British English and American English thesauri.
> Singular or plural use may also depend on the type of institution
> that creates the vocabulary. The Anglo-American library community in
> many cases prefers the plural for count nouns and the singular for
> non-count nouns; the museum community often applies the singular for
> both count and non-count nouns. The International Terminology Working
> Group accepts both plural and singular use in participating
> vocabularies according to the current usage of each. Equivalents are
> acceptable between singular terms in one vocabulary and plural in the
> and they even have an on-line term input form: http://www.chin.gc.ca/
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