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[protege-owl] Best Practice for multilingual ontologies

Steven Wartik swartik at
Wed Sep 20 14:30:40 PDT 2006

Hmm. I think I was assuming some tool capabilities that do not currently 
exist, even in (gasp!) Protégé. I like the notion of a concept being 
independent of language -- a rose by any other name, and all that -- and 
want to tell my ontology editor "Use the English version" or "Use the 
Sanskrit version" without having to switch URIs. Then too, would you 
want to map only the German version of an ontology? I'd think it would 
be more useful to map concepts in myOntology.owl. Maybe I'm not 
understanding what you desire to map.

But as you point out, my approach either asks a lot of whoever is 
responsible for myOntology.owl, or requires some advanced capability 
that allows basically anyone to make certain edits to an ontology. I 
rather prefer my ideal world, but I may need to live in yours for the 
foreseeable future.

Steve Wartik

Olivier Dameron wrote:
> Quoting Steven Wartik <swartik at>:
>> Oliver,
>> I agree with your idea about modularization. I am curious to know why
>> you would have myOntology-??.owl import myOntology.owl, rather than the
>> other way around. If myOntology.owl imports myOntology-en.owl,
>> myOntology-fr.owl, etc. then everyone can reference a single URI, yet
>> still have access to the ontology in their preferred language.
> The idea is that people may only be interested in some of the  
> languages, not all, or even
> no language at all. This way, they can choose whatever they like.
> Second, I assume that you are not going to do all the translations in  
> every language.
> More likely, each language will be contributed by a different person.  
> This way, thay can
> all manage and share their language-specific part the way they like, without a
> centralised repository. You could even have several versions of a same  
> language (not sure
> if that would really be useful, though, just speculating)
> Eventually, I also see your point to have a bundle. Well, nothing  
> prevents you from
> having:
> - myOntology.owl
> - myOntology-en.owl, myOntology-de.owl, etc, each one importing myOntology.owl
> - myOntology-multilingual.owl that imports all the language-specific ones
> This way, people can choose the bare ontology, the ontology + some  
> languages, or the
> ontology + all languages.
> PS: if at some point you want to map myOntology-de.owl with some other  
> german ontology,
> you obviously won't need the french part.
> Cheers
> Olivier
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