[Taxacom] Language tags for scientific names

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 19:27:21 CDT 2008

I may have lost the plot here, but isn't problem we have one of trying
to use the xml:lang tag for a purpose for which it was not intended?
>From a W3C page: "A special attribute named xml:lang may be inserted
in documents to specify the language used in the contents and
attribute values of any element in an XML document.".  My
interpretation of this is along the lines of: "the text following is
written in... ".  There is no implication of content, context or
meaning, only that "to understand it you need to be able to speak ..."

It could (should?) be argued that in the <span lang="ICBN">Pieris
japonica</span>/<span lang="ICZN">Pieris japonica</span> example being
discussed the issue is not one of language (both appear to be
scientific Latinish) but one of context and concept.

In this case we are dealing with homonyms under different codes.  But
what, hypothetically, if we were dealing with homonyms under the same
code?  Outrageous I know, but I believe it has been known to happen.
The ambiguity in constructions like the above would be unresolvable.

It looks as though we trying to use language to solve a problem
created by language and Einsten's "a problem can not be solved on the
level at which it was created" comes to mind...  :)


On Sat, Jun 28, 2008 at 8:30 AM, Gregor Hagedorn <g.m.hagedorn at gmail.com> wrote:
> The point of the proposal to use xml:lang is to offer a general way to
> denote certain passages of free-form text or structured text elements
> as general as possible.
> It is possible to alternatively agree on a microformat (using the
> class attribute) for xhtml, on defining a schema for the subject tag
> when using qualified DublinCore, or defining special elements or
> attributes in any of the xml languages we have used. However, it would
> simplify our task if we could use as general a method as possible.
> Using xml:lang it is possible to denote a given phrase as coming from
> a fisherman's dialect on the coast on some island. Or to quote from
> rfc 4646:
>    de-CH-1901 (German as used in Switzerland using the 1901 variant
> [orthography])
>    sl-IT-nedis (Slovenian as used in Italy, Nadiza dialect)
> Since the organism names are based on a clear vocabulary and grammar,
> I do not really see a difference to plan languages.
> It would be a community decision to use language tags as one of
> several options. Using the private use areas (everything after an
> "-x-" subtag) we could start without even registering. But it would be
> painful if everyone uses different private notations.
> Gregor
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Jim Croft
jim.croft at gmail.com

"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in
order to enjoy ourselves."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (1889-1951)

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