[Taxacom] Language tags for scientific names

Arthur Chapman taxacom3 at achapman.org
Fri Jun 27 20:20:11 CDT 2008

I agree with Jim Croft here.

It would appear that some correspondents to this thread have confused 
the internal marking up of a document in XML and Dublin Core.

Having been involved in some of the developments of Dublin Core - what 
is being proposed here has nothing to do with the metaelements of Dublin 
Core which are used in a header to a Web document, and as Jim says - the 
language meta-element is specificially for documenmting the language of 
the document - not individual parts within a document.

That is not to say that markup elements cannot be developed and based on 
the concepts within Dublin Core - but please don't confuse them with the 
Dublin Core Metadata Element Set  <http://dublincore.org/documents/dces/ 

I see no reason why TDWG can't suggest a standard markup methodology for 
identifying taxonomic names within a document. An example of one way 
this is done is with the Biota Neotropica 
<http://www.biotaneotropica.org.br/v8n2/pt/> Journal where under the 
Abstract there are lists of taxa that are mentioned within the paper - 
marked up in XML. Such an agreement through TDWG could be submitted to 
the W3C, but not as part of Dublin Core

Arthur D. Chapman
Toowoomba, Australia

Jim Croft wrote:
> 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...  :)
> jim
> 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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