Multilingual Linked Open Data Patterns

Multilingual vocabularies


Define vocabularies and ontologies where the concepts contain translations for several languages.


In a multilingual linked data application where we want to have more control about the translation process, it is better to provide our own translations defining multilingual versions of the ontologies.


In our running example, we can define a multilingual vocabulary for university positions with declarations like:

:position  a  owl:DatatypeProperty ;
  rdfs:domain  :UniversityStaff ;
  rdfs:label  "Position"@en ;
  rdfs:label  "Puesto"@es .

:UniversityStaff  a  owl:Class ;
  rdfs:label  "University staff"@en ;
  rdfs:label  "Trabajador universitario"@es .


Multilingual vocabularies offer an elegant solution for applications that need to express information in local languages.

As labels and comments are already translated, the users of those languages can have access to more standard textual representations in their languages.

Some common vocabularies use only one language, usually English, as a canonical textual representation of the different concepts.

Some concepts are difficult to translate and there may appear ambiguities in the translations. For example, the label Professor may be translated to Profesor in Spanish. However, the meaning of those concepts is different (in Spanish it is usually preferred as CatedrĂ¡tico).

See also

There are a number of multilingual vocabularies, like Agrovoc or Eurovoc.

This pattern is opposed to the Monolingual vocabularies pattern.

In [Hyland 12] it is proposed as a quality selection criteria the use of vocabularies that contain descriptions in more than one language.