2013-02-07 : Lingvoj Ontology v2.1
This new version includes more detailed properties to describe the levels of knowledge of a person in a language
(understood, spoken, read, written), various ways a language is linked to a country (official, main, regional, minority)
or to an organization, a project or an event. it also includes properties to describe the status of a language at a given date (living, endangered, extinct).
All elements are named and defined in both English and French, more translations pending.
Why do we need that?
Languages are an endangered heritage
According to Ethnologue, the number of human languages currently used in the world amounts to almost 7,000. About half of them could be extinct before the end of this century. Only a small fraction of them is supported by some writing system and have written heritage, and among those, still less are used in modern information systems and on the Web. A good indication of the number of languages used on the Web is provided by the multilingual editions of Wikipedia, to-date 285 different languages, that is less than 5% of all known languages. Ranking of languages by importance of their respective wikipedia is a fairly good indicator for the Web influence of their communities of speakers, but very different from the ranking based on the number of speakers.
We need languages as Linked Data
In current XML and RDF practice, languages are identified by tags, typically used in the "xml:lang" attribute. The allowed values of tags are defined by BCP 47. Those language tags are typically used for rdfs:label or rdfs:comment, and allow the filtering of such elements of description by language, for example in SPARQL queries. But they do not provide support for queries such as:
To answer such queries, languages need to be represented as resources, likely to be linked to other resources representing books, people, organizations, places, events, products ... through dedicated properties. Such properties can be found in the Lingvoj Ontology. URIs for languages have been defined in lingvoj.org namespace since 2007, and many other URIs have been defined afterwards in the linked data cloud. Since 2010 lingvoj.org URIs mainly redirect to those of lexvo.org. More details below.
2010-05-10 : lingvoj.org meets Lexvo.org
Since the launch of lingvoj.org in 2007, the linked data cloud has grown at a steady pace, and a growing number of URI sets have been published to identify human languages. Lexvo.org is providing the most exhaustive of those so far, in which URIs for languages are integrated in a global approach of terminology. Through exchanges with Gerard de Melo, editor at Lexvo.org, it has been decided to redirect and deprecate lingvoj.org URIs for individual languages to the benefit of the more stable and exhaustive publication at Lexvo.org.
From that date most lingvoj.org URIs for individual languages are redirected to lexvo.org URIs through content negotiation. A few exceptions are URIs of languages with no ISO 639-3 codes, since lexvo URIs are built on those codes, and languages with a regional tag, such as en-us.
The lingvo-to-lexvo RDF file provides the mappings and equivalence between lingvo and lexvo URIs. Applications using the lingvoj.org URIs are invited to change their references accordingly, although the redirection mechanism should avoid any breakdown of applications using lingvoj.org URIs.
2009-04-06 : Lingvoj Ontology v1.3 introducing the use of dcterms:language, as a superproperty of various lingvoj object properties, and its inverse property "is language of", used to link to active Wikipedia in the language when available (265 such languages to date).
2007-11-29 : Lingvoj Ontology v1.1 including the Translation class, allowing to declare facts such as : The resource A in original language L1 has beeen translated into resource B in target language L2, by the the translator Z. Examples of use for translations of W3C recommandations.
2007-10-09 : Eventually, with the precious help from the Linking Open Data community,
achieved publication with proper content negociation, which works well with Firefox. For some
reason this content negociation is not well supported by Internet Explorer.
Contact : Bernard Vatant