Appendix D: Contributors and Contributions
How to Record Contributors
Contributing Large Translations:
Guidelines for Multilingual Equivalency Work
author: Patricia Harpring
Quick Reference Guide
Organizing a Translation Project
Contributions to the master AAT
Setting up the translation project
Only necessary changes
Logical organization of the project
Translating Terms from Source to Target Languages
Direct mapping of terms
Basic information about terms
Providing Scope Notes
What is a scope note?
Translating the scope note
Creating a new scope note
Display date notes
Examples of scope notes
Changes to scope notes
Ongoing Issue Resolution
How to Record Contributors
When to add a contributor
Brief and Full Names for contributors should be constructed
in consultation with your supervisor. This will be done as
a special project when the contributor makes its first submission
to a Getty Vocabulary. If the contributor contributes to multiple
Getty Vocabularies, their Brief and Full Names should be identical
in all three databases.
A unique numeric code referring to the contributor in a given
Vocabulary database. As of this writing, the number for the same contributor can vary between AAT, ULAN,
TGN, and CONA.
Brief appellation or initials by which the contributing institution
is noted in the AAT, ULAN, TGN, or CONA records. Choose initials, a truncated name,
or an acronym that the contributing institution commonly uses
to refer to itself.
A full, official name for the contributing institution. For
the Full Name, record the name commonly used by the contributing
institution to refer to itself.
Contributing Large Translations
Guidelines for Multilingual Equivalency Work (Patricia Harpring)
Please use the guidelines here with Introduction to Controlled Vocabularies (Harpring, Patricia, 2013), and the Editorial Guidelines on this site. The lengthy, comprehensive discussions in these works are not repeated here.
Details of the guidelines here are augmented and revised as necessary over time, typically as new issues arise in translation projects.
For occasional terms in foreign languages rather than large translation projects, see the AAT Editorial Guidelines: Terms: Translating terms.
Quick Reference Guide
Below is a brief list of critical guidelines for establishing multilingual equivalencies in the AAT.
- As a first step, please fill in the Data Contribution and License Agreement. For questions, please contact the Getty Vocabulary Program.
- By contributing data to the vocabulary, the contributor agrees to its contributed data becoming a permanent part of the vocabulary, which is made available in several formats, including as Linked Open Data. The contributor is cited; however, data from multiple contributors may be merged and the Getty maintains final editorial control of all contributed data.
- Follow the guidelines in the AAT Editorial Guidelines.
- For each language, organize the translations as a unified project managed by the participating translating institutions.
- Assemble an expert team for translations, including experts in both a) the content and b) the source and target languages.
- Organize the work logically, either a) working facet by facet or b) using a two-step approach, by first mapping existing terminology in the target language back to the master AAT, and then proceeding with the remainder of the AAT translation.
- Safeguard the primary objectives of true synonymy, a) maintaining cross-language equivalence between the English descriptor and the target language descriptor, and b) maintaining intra-language equivalence between the descriptor, alternate descriptor, and used-for terms in the target language.
- Undertake a concept-to-concept translation, maintaining the thesaural structure and associative relationships of the master AAT.
- Translate only the English descriptor or alternate descriptor in the master AAT; do not attempt to also translate the English used-for terms.
- However, if in establishing the target-language descriptor, it is discovered that there are additional terms with exact equivalence in the target language, they should be included as used-for terms for that language.
- For the AAT, alternate descriptors must be derivatives of the descriptor for that language; terms that are not derivatives of the descriptor should be used-for terms. Note that users of the AAT may choose any term in the concept record for indexing, including used-for terms.
- You may use loan terms from the source language, if there is literary warrant in the target language.
- Resort to coined terms and literal translations only when necessary.
- Submit records for new concepts, as necessary; include the English descriptor for all new concepts.
- Include qualifiers for all homographs, checking not only the target-language translation, but the full AAT, including terms in all languages.
- Provide warrant for all terms; descriptors should have three pieces of warrant, if possible.
- Ensure that the translated term referenced in published sources in the target language has the same spelling, but also precisely the same meaning as defined in the scope note of the AAT concept record.
- Provide feedback and direct questions to the Getty’s AAT editorial team as necessary, regarding editorial rules, hierarchical placement, associative relationships, and scope notes; use the established channels.
- Regarding existing data in the master AAT, request only essential changes, keeping in mind that the impact of proposed changes must be considered and tracked for all languages.
- In consultation with the Getty technical team, send the contribution in batches using the prescribed XML format for contributions
The guidelines presented here focus on translation contributions for the Art & Architecture Thesaurus ® (AAT). However, the principles discussed may apply to any project concerned with translating terminology from a source language to a target language. Furthermore, although these guidelines focus on translations, much of the discussion may also apply to any project involved in large-scale contributions of the AAT to the Getty Vocabulary Program.
As defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the methodology discussed here is translation of a monolingual thesaurus (ISO 25964-1:2011), because the master AAT in English is always the source resource, and each translation is a target resource. As discussed in the ISO standards, this translation approach is a popular and economical way of constructing a multilingual thesaurus (ISO 25964-1:2011, 13.3.3), particularly when the source thesaurus is so vast and well established as the AAT.
Other methods of constructing a multilingual resource are the merging of several distinct monolingual thesauri and the simultaneous construction of multiple language versions as a multilingual thesaurus. These methods are generally more complex, more expensive, and likely to produce a less homogeneous product, but they are perhaps appropriate for smaller projects with a narrowly defined scope. For guidelines concerning these other methods, see ISO 25964-1:2011 and ISO 25964-2:2013.
In these guidelines, term should be understood as “term representing a concept.” For example, when translating or mapping, it is the concept that is translated or mapped. (That all terms represent concepts was a major change emphasized in ISO 25964, contrasted to previous standards.)
126.96.36.199.1 Linking the AAT
The AAT is linked to the other Getty vocabularies. For example, AAT terminology controls the roles of people in the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) (e.g., watercolorist, engraver, emperor) and the place types in the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN) (e.g., megalithic site, commune (administrative)). The AAT has recently been released as linked open data (LOD); this exposure of the AAT in the linked open arena further highlights its profound utility for facilitating access to cultural heritage information across languages.
188.8.131.52.2 Master AAT
In these guidelines, the phrase master AAT is used to refer to the full AAT dataset that is maintained by the Getty Vocabulary Program and the Getty technical team. Translations and other contributions are integrated in the master AAT. The overall record-preferred term in the master AAT is the source-language (English) descriptor, for which translators in the target language should seek an equivalent.
As of this writing, various translation projects maintain their own versions of the AAT, with emphasis on the language of their nation. This creates a challenge in keeping all copies of the AAT in sync. However, it is hoped that in an emerging linked, open environment, all primary translation projects will derive their published data from a single official master AAT. Having a single authoritative copy of the AAT will allow users in the linked world to know with confidence which copy is the most up-to-date and complete.
Organizing a Translation Project
Translation projects provide an important avenue by which the AAT expands and becomes ever more useful for indexing, research, and discovery over time. Guidelines in this section focus on translation projects; however, the rules may also be extrapolated for use by any project involved in large-scale contributions to the AAT or another Getty vocabulary.
184.108.40.206.1. Background on the creation of the Getty vocabularies
The AAT and other Getty vocabularies are compiled resources that grow through contributions. The AAT grows daily, with updates released every two weeks. The Getty team members who manage the master AAT include the Getty Vocabulary Program, a team at Getty Information Technology Services, and additional supervisors and advisers from the Getty Research Institute and the Getty ITS.
Contributors to the Getty vocabularies include museums, libraries, archives, special collections, visual resources collections, bibliographic and documentation projects, and large national or international translation projects. A large translation project requires planning, execution, and maintenance over time.
220.127.116.11.2. Contributions to the master AAT
Any translation project will ideally have the goal of eventually submitting the contribution to the master AAT. Contributions to the AAT must meet the following criteria: they must be submitted by an authorized contributor who has first consulted with the Getty Vocabulary program; the data must be within scope of the AAT; it must include the required core fields and minimum information; and it must be submitted in the prescribed format. Every contribution must include an English preferred term.
18.104.22.168.2.1. Small contributions
Small contributions, numbering dozens or hundreds of new terms, may be submitted to the AAT in online contribution forms, for which a login will have been assigned to the contributor. Occasionally it is possible to submit very small contributions in spreadsheets or various other formats, as approved by the Getty Vocabulary Program.
22.214.171.124.2.2. Large contributions
These guidelines focus on contributions of large numbers of records, primarily those made as translations of the master AAT. At the time of this writing, the current contribution format is an XML format, the schema for which is found on the Contribute to the Getty Vocabularies page and in Appendix A. In the future, it is likely that contributions may also be made through linked open data.
126.96.36.199.2.3. Editorial control and publication
The Getty Vocabulary Program maintains final editorial control over the AAT and other Getty vocabularies. The Getty reserves the right to refuse contributions that do not follow the prescribed guidelines and format, are outside the scope of the AAT, or otherwise deemed inappropriate for the AAT.
By contributing data to the AAT, the contributor agrees to its contributed data becoming a permanent part of the vocabulary, which is licensed in various formats and made available as linked open data. By contributing data, the contributor warrants that the contributed data does not infringe any proprietary rights or any statutory copyright, and that contributed material is not offensive or defamatory.
188.8.131.52.3. Setting up the translation project
These guidelines are based upon methods that have been tested and proven successful in previous and ongoing AAT translations. These guidelines assume that each translation project will translate the AAT into a single language. The separate translations in various languages will then be coordinated and merged in the master AAT by the Getty team.
For each language, groups representing different nations where the language is spoken, different disciplines that use the language, or other groups who use linguistic variations on the language ideally should all work together to ensure that the richness of each variation or dialect of the language is included for all AAT concepts.
184.108.40.206.3.1. Expertise required
It is critical that translation work is carried out by authorized experts in content, language, and thesaurus construction. Identifying multilingual equivalents is not a simple matter of providing literal translations or looking up words in a dictionary. For example, a non-expert translator or a computer program might translate the English term toasting glasses from the AAT vessels hierarchy into Spanish as vasos para tostar, which would seem to refer to browning sliced bread rather than honoring someone with wine (toasting glasses are wine glasses with a small conical bowl and a very thin stem, which can easily be snapped between the fingers).
When translating the AAT, successful projects in different nations have used teams of translators with knowledge of both English and the target language, but also with subject expertise in various periods and specialized areas of art creation and art history. In many cases, initial translations are done by subject experts for various concepts; for example, it requires a subject expert in printmaking to correctly translate and distinguish between ink balls and dabbers, which are types of printmaking equipment. Initial translations are then proofed by team members who have language expertise in both the source and target languages.
220.127.116.11.3.2. Basic organization
Once it is decided that an institution, national agency, or international partnership has the firm intention and institutional mandate to translate the AAT into a given language, the first consideration will be how to organize the translation project at a high level. The ISO standard for multilingual thesauri from 1985 (ISO 5964:1985), now revised in most areas in ISO 25964, nonetheless contains observations on the organization of a translation project that remain useful today; it lays out the three following possibilities of basic organizational strategies:
• A centralized structure, in which all final decisions are taken by a central agency.
• A decentralized structure, in which each of a number of cooperating agencies assumes responsibility for selecting and interrelating the terms which fall within its own subject areas.
• A semi-centralized structure, in which the work is controlled by a central editorial committee consisting of delegates from the various cooperating agencies. This committee organizes all aspects of cooperation between the agencies, controls the allocation of work, and serves as the final authority in all intellectual and editorial matters.
Depending upon the available resources and support, the centralized structure or the semi-centralized structure are recommended for AAT translations. In order to assure a consistent translation, organization by a decentralized structure is strongly discouraged.
18.104.22.168.3.2.1. Centralized organizational structure
If a single governmental agency or institution within one nation is assuming responsibility for the entire translation into a given language, the centralized structure will be most efficient. The translation work may be divided and assigned to teams of experts; however, the final editorial regulation and other decision-making is ultimately controlled by a centralized team.
22.214.171.124.3.2.2. Semi-centralized organizational structure
If multiple nations or other groups are sharing resources in order to produce a translation in one language, the semi-centralized structure may be appropriate. The translation work may be divided and assigned to teams of experts. The final editorial regulation and decision-making is then agreed upon by a committee with at least one representative having expertise in each language variation.
For example, terms for the same concept may vary in the French language as written or spoken in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and France. If two or more of these nations are working together to create a translation, ideally representative experts from these nations should be part of the final team.
Although these guidelines primarily concern translation projects dealing with one source language and one target language, for projects undertaking the construction of a multilingual terminology by creating terms in multiple languages simultaneously, the semi-centralized organizational structure is recommended. For such projects, this organizational structure allows all parties to have a voice in decisions.
126.96.36.199.3.2.3. Composite organizational structure
Although not laid out in ISO 5964:1985, another viable method of organization combines elements of centralized and semi-centralized structures. An example of a composite approach could be required under the following circumstances: if one national group has taken the primary responsibility for making the translation, and if they have already translated a significant portion of the AAT or they are providing the bulk of financial support and staff, a second group from another nation or discipline could request to join the effort. In such cases, the second group should be a respected partner in the discussion and take part in the translation work; however, the original group could remain in primary control of the finished translation.
188.8.131.52.3.2.4. Communication with the master AAT
Whichever organizational method is decided upon by the translation project, the project must provide unified communication to the Getty Vocabulary Program. Designating one spokesperson is recommended. Although the Getty team members are active participants in issue-resolution concerning broad issues, the Getty relies upon the translating project for a given language to provide an authoritative, correct translation at the term level.
184.108.40.206.3.2.5. Communication with stakeholders
In order to assure funding, acceptance, and implementation of the translation, a translation project should allow for communication with and demonstration to the senior management and other stakeholders of the project. Among the stakeholders are also the intended users. For example, if a national translation project expects the museums of that nation to use the vocabulary, securing buy-in throughout the project will make it more likely that the vocabulary will be accepted.
220.127.116.11.3.3. Managing the translation project
Managing a translation project requires planning, preparation, and follow through, as would any project.
18.104.22.168.3.3.1. The project plan
The translation project should be worked out in a project plan, which is a formal, approved document that guides the execution and control of the project. The primary functions of the project plan are to document planning assumptions and decisions, facilitate communication among the project team and stakeholders, and to document the approved scope, cost, schedules, and deliverables of the project.
In order to design a project plan, there first must be an understanding of the ultimate goal: to translate the full AAT or a part of it. The scope of the project should be clearly defined.
There must be an understanding of the tasks and milestones required to reach the goal. A first step is analysis of the tasks required. What are the tasks? What steps are required to complete each task? How long will it take to complete each step and each task? What skills and educational background are required of team members to complete the tasks? How many team members will be required? What materials are required to complete the tasks? In order to answer some of these questions, project planners should do test runs of tasks and keep track of the time required and potential problems.
Once the goals and tasks are understood, the project planners must determine how to successfully carry out the project. Financial and physical resources must be acquired. Staff or other team members must be recruited. What is the timeframe for the project and its stages? What are the schedule and milestones for the project?
Plans for the future should be considered in the project plan, even if they are not fully defined there. What is the 3-, 5-, or 10-year plan for the project? Most projects will be divided into phases. After the first phase, the project should analyze if the initial goals and deliverables have been met. Have issues arisen or lessons learned that can aid in successive phases? When should planning begin for the next phase?
For additional discussion of project management, see ANSI/PMI 99-001-2000: Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.
22.214.171.124.3.3.2. Compiling the data
A number of key issues regarding the compilation of data must be analyzed and agreed upon before beginning the project.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Fields and format of the data
The minimum required fields and format of the data for contributions are laid out in the AAT online documentation, Contributions to the Getty Vocabularies. See also Appendix A below.
As data is collected, the data format should closely match the master AAT data structure so that contributions may be efficiently mapped to the prescribed contribution format. The primary minimum fields are the following:
subject_id of the master AAT concept
one or more terms
scope note language
scope note sources
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11. Which computer system should be used?
It is outside the scope of these guidelines to provide advice regarding the specifics of a computer system for a translation project. However, the basic functionality of any system must allow the project to load, enter by hand, edit, and export data appropriate for the AAT. Consulting with other AAT translation projects regarding individual systems is advised.
The computer system used for translation should allow for the full set of fields and relationships in the master AAT. Consult ISO 25964-1:2011 for advice on system functionality. Among critical aspects of functionality are the following: The system should be able to handle all Unicode characters, and possibly other characters, for any language. It should allow special characters, such as copyright symbols, parentheses, and square brackets in the fields. It should allow robust indexing and searching. It should allow the display of full records, hierarchical displays, and results lists. Hierarchical displays should allow for the expansion and contraction of the hierarchy at various levels. Editors should be able to move easily from one record to another in a results list. Queries should allow retrieval of any term across all hierarchies. For translations, easy comparison between descriptors and other terms across languages is helpful.
18.104.22.168.3.3.3. Editorial guidelines
Detailed AAT Editorial Guidelines are available online. The translating project should follow the guidelines in order to ensure their contribution is compatible with the master AAT.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Editorial rules check list
It is recommended to construct a brief check list of important editorial rules for editors or translators in the language of the editors, separate but developed from the larger AAT editorial guidelines. Remember that consistency is key: application of the rules and solutions to issues should be carried out consistently by all editors.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Training on the system
Document the functionality and train editors on using the computer system. Include a written set of procedures required for each task.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Access to published sources
It is required to use published sources for all translated terms and for new scope notes in the AAT. A descriptor in a given language should have been found in three published sources. Document the preferred, authoritative published sources to be used for each hierarchy or other subdivision of the AAT. With the abundance of online books and articles, it is often possible to do the majority of research online. Sources are further discussed below.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Issue resolution
If questions arise concerning an editorial issue, the project representative should contact the Getty Vocabulary Program at email@example.com for answers and discussions. See Feedback below.
188.8.131.52.3.3.4. Compliance with standards
Adherence to standards is critical. If the translating project follows the data model and editorial guidelines recommended by the AAT, their work should then also map to or comply with other standards, given that the Getty vocabularies themselves comply with NISO and ISO standards, and are mapped to LOD standards and other standards.
184.108.40.206.3.3.5. Required expertise
Recruiting an expert team is critical. The expertise of team members can be judged by several factors: experience, degree earned or other appropriate education, research skills, knowledge of the material, good analytical skills, language skills, and computer skills. A translation project will require a number of people having different types of expertise.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Content experts
Content experts are scholars or experienced researchers who are expert in a given topic or discipline covered in the AAT, including art historical styles and periods, object types, materials, conservation processes, and other topics covered in various hierarchies or facets. It is impossible that one person would have knowledge in all areas of the AAT. If resources allow, it is recommended to assign different areas or topics in the AAT to appropriate content experts.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Language experts
Language experts should be expert in both the source language (English) and the target language of the translation. If the content experts are not fluent in both languages, the language experts must ensure that the translation of terms and scope notes correctly represents the original published source in both content and in clear and correct expression.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Thesaurus experts
Thesaurus experts are experienced in building thesauri in general and they understand the idiosyncratic arrangement and content of the AAT specifically. These experts are particularly important when new terminology is suggested for the AAT. For concept-to-concept translations of the existing AAT, given that the hierarchies of the master AAT are maintained in the translations, the thesaurus expert should approve the scope notes and qualifiers to be sure they do not suggest or state a concept contrary to its placement in the master AAT.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Technical experts
Technical experts are systems and data experts, often programmers, who ensure that the translated data is correctly collected, maintained, and contributed in the correct format to the master AAT. If data is maintained locally, technical experts must plan how will it be maintained or transferred as technology changes over time.
Technical experts should also develop a methodology to ensure that the translation remains in sync with the master AAT. Ideally, in the future, it is hoped that translations and new terminology will be linked or loaded immediately into the master AAT, and displays and access for a given set of end users in a local language would be controlled by the data providers based on the master AAT, rather than by maintaining separate copies of the AAT. Given that this plan is still not realized as of this writing, it is imperative that local technical experts keep their local version of the AAT in sync with the master AAT, which changes often due to new contributions and updates; refreshed data is available every two weeks.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. General qualifications
General qualifications for team members include having the appropriate temperament and skill set for the job. Team members would ideally be people who are meticulous, patient, reliable, and capable of meeting deadlines, following detailed rules, and making sound decisions. Excellent analytical skills are mandatory. Any team member must be a good team player, meaning the person excels at working together with other people, sharing responsibility, and communicating well.
Managers will be necessary for the project. There should be a clear progression of authority among supervisors, so that decisions ultimately may be dictated by a supervising manager, if not resolved at a lower level of management. All significant decisions should be documented and available to the full team.
188.8.131.52.3.3.6. Work flow
Establish a schedule and procedures for the flow of work. In order to ensure success, project planners should avoid an overly optimistic schedule. Instead, they should design a realistic schedule for work flow, allowing for unexpected contingencies, such as sick days and technical glitches. They should determine how many records per week and month must be completed to meet the deadlines.
For the day-to-day workflow of editors, set quotas and production goals for each editor. Train editors how to avoid spending too much time on an overly difficult or insoluble issue; instead, the editor should stop research after a given amount of time, then record the issue for future resolution, note the records to which it applies, and move on to other records in order to meet quotas. Provide editors with decision trees, laying out if-then scenarios to aid them in decision making. Decide what compromises will be acceptable if the project begins to fall behind schedule; implement the compromises as necessary.
184.108.40.206.3.3.7. Quality control
The translating project should have clear methods in place to check for quality control as the project proceeds. The importance of regular reports and oversight for quality cannot be overstated. It is critical to document issues and resolutions concerning quality in order improve or avoid problems in the future.
220.127.116.11.3.3.8. How to judge success
The translating project should have defined criteria to judge the success of the final project and also of the milestones along the way. Create detailed progress charts with dates detailing which portions of the database have completed translations and which are unfinished. Obvious criteria to judge success would include the meeting of deadlines in editorial work, maintaining accuracy and consistency in the work, and the milestones of publication for batches of the translation in the master AAT.
18.104.22.168.3.3.9. Maintenance of the multilingual thesaurus
Terminology will change over time. Also, the addition of new datasets and broadening of scope in the master AAT will require new terms to be added in the translated target language over time. For example, as more and more terms from the discipline of art conservation are added, translations of these new terms will be required in all languages.
The translating project should have an editorial plan to maintain the thesaurus over time, particularly concerning the terms and scope notes in the target language. Policies and procedures should be devised for periodic reviews, including analysis of terms and scope notes that have changed or been added in the master AAT. The translating project should also create and contribute new concept records and replace obsolete descriptors in the target language as necessary.
If questions arise concerning an editorial issue, the project should contact the Getty Vocabulary Program at firstname.lastname@example.org for answers and discussions. An interactive online discussion forum is also available for issue resolution and sharing of information between the Getty team and the translating projects. Certain issues of general interest will also be listed online in the Editorial Manual: Translation of terms.
Each new translation can bring up unique issues that are not yet addressed in the guidelines; thus an open line of communication is critical. The Getty Vocabulary Program will communicate new issues and additions or changes to editorial practice to all translating projects.
Suggested changes to the structure of the AAT hierarchy, associative relationships, or scope notes should also be channeled through the feedback process. For discussion and rules regarding hierarchical and associative relationships, see Editorial Guidelines: Hierarchical relationships and Associative relationships.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Only necessary changes
While a certain amount of change is unavoidable, it is important to make only essential changes to the master AAT. When a thesaurus is multilingual, the impact of the proposed changes is magnified; changes must be considered and tracked for all languages.
The addition of new concepts and terms is welcome; implementers and users must expect that additions will be made frequently to the AAT. New links between concepts and new sources are routine and welcome. However, significant changes to existing data may have adverse ramifications: while changes are made when necessary for the sake of correctness and accuracy, unwarranted or frivolous changes are avoided. Compromise must be maintained between meeting changing requirements and maintaining stability (ISO 25964-1:2011). Changes to descriptors, to the record's numeric identification ("subject_id"), and to the hierarchy are avoided except in dire situations, because such changes are so disruptive to established users and implementors.
Backfiles are the resources that are already indexed with the original vocabulary. Translating projects and the Getty Vocabulary Program must recognize that every change to existing descriptors, hierarchical position, subject_id, or term_id has an effect, often detrimental, on the retrieval performance for backfiles. This issue and other issues of thesaurus maintenance are discussed in ISO 25964-1:2011.
Many backfiles currently cannot easily incorporate changes. In time, it is hoped that new database management software and implementers will routinely allow automatic or semi-automatic correction of backfile records. Eventually, it is hoped that more and more resources will be linked to the AAT as linked open data, by which changes can hopefully be more easily managed and version control will be less problematic.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Typical changes in the AAT
Additions and changes to the master AAT are documented in the revision history fields. Projects should periodically consult changes in the revision history in order to update their own copies of the AAT.
Minor changes may be ignored. Most major changes, such as the rare moving of a concept record in the hierarchy, are tracked automatically in the revision history. For some changes, such as editing of the English scope note, the revision history cannot automatically judge if the edit resulted in significant or only minor change. In these cases, the Getty Vocabulary Program editor manually flags the change as NB (nota bene) in the public note field if the change is major; such changes will likely require action by the maintainers of the translations of the AAT database.
Broadly applied changes are announced to the translating projects in the online forum and at the periodic International Terminology Working Group (ITWG) meetings.
Examples of the rare but significant changes that are made to the master AAT include the following:
• Correction of non-synonymous used-for terms: When a record in the legacy AAT contains terms or a scope note that describe non-synonymous terms, the manual division of the record into multiple concepts occurs. The original hierarchical position is maintained for the descriptor; any non-synonymous used-for term is deleted. A new record is made for the former used-for term, which is now usually a descriptor. Translations for the new descriptors should be supplied by the translating projects.
• Decoordination: Decoordination is the splitting of a compound term into its component words to stand as individual terms. This practice is done only in rare cases in the AAT, when in legacy data an unbound compound term had been mistakenly added to the hierarchy. In order to avoid this problem, unbound compound terms are generally eliminated from a contribution before it is loaded and published.
• Changing of Descriptors: Changing the preferred term descriptor for an AAT concept is very rare, given the disruption that this causes for users. However, certain changes are deemed critical and are thus employed. An example may be when an existing descriptor has a negative or offensive connotation for a given community (e.g., "ancestral Puebloan" is now preferred over the former descriptor "Anasazi," which has negative connotations), or when usage for a term has changed overwhelmingly over time, and the existing descriptor is no longer preferred in scholarly literature. Changes in such cases are made only when absolutely necessary, and only after it is proven that the proposed new preferred term is firmly established in the literature. Note: Once a term has been published and used by the community, it is not deleted from the record. A former descriptor would become a Used For term, and remain accessible in the AAT record. If it is now considered offensive, it will be so-flagged, but not deleted.
• Hierarchical repositioning: Movement of a concept record from one hierarchical section of the thesaurus to another is very rare. Of these rare cases, the most common is with legacy AAT records where the concept was not originally defined in a scope note. Subsequent research for the scope note may reveal a revised meaning of the concept, which may indicate that the original hierarchical position was incorrect. Note: Moving entire branches of a hierarchy almost never happens, given the disruption that this would cause to established users.
• Elimination of incorrect Guide Terms: In order to correct overly complex hierarchical levels and to eliminate guide terms that do not completely correspond to node labels as defined by ISO, certain guide terms in the legacy AAT are being gradually changed to postable concept records. Many users have told us that they need to use various guide terms as indexing terms, which is another reason to reclassify terms as postable (e.g., GT "people by group" may become concept "groups of people"). In extremely rare cases, such as if a guide term has (and will likely continue to have) only one or two children or if it is redundant with another level, a level may be subsumed into its parent. Records for the subsumed or eliminated levels are moved to a non-published area of the AAT, "temp.parent/To-Be-Deleted," where implementers may take stock of them. Each child of the eliminated level would also have an entry in revision history noting its assignment to a new parent.
• Revisions to Qualifiers: Revisions to qualifiers are common. As the AAT grows, new homographs are contributed that require new qualifiers to distinguish between terms, or existing qualifiers are no longer sufficient or appropriate in the context of the new contribution and thus are changed. Translators need be concerned with such changes to the English term qualifier only when it causes reconsideration of the appropriateness of the qualifier in the translated language. The translated term need not adopt a translation of the English qualifier, nor include any qualifier if not needed for the translated terms. Changes to qualifiers are flagged as a change to the term in the revision history. Note: In LOD releases, changes to qualifiers may indeed result in changes to label strings, which include subject_ID, term plus qualifier. In the native data structure of the Getty Vocabularies, qualifier is designed as a field separate from the term, and is not intended to be used in retrieval of the term.
• Revisions to Scope Notes: Minor changes to Scope Notes are viewed as benign changes, in so far as they do not severely disrupt the data implementatios of end-users (unlike changes to descriptors or hierarchies). For example, minor changes may be made to a scope note in order to clarify meaning. Also, in order to correct legacy scope notes that were overly narrow in definition or included multiple concepts in one scope note, some scope notes are being more extensively rewritten. If the change is significant enough to require changes by the translating projects, the update to the scope note is flagged NB in the revision history fields. In addition, new scope notes are gradually being written where they are missing in the legacy AAT data or in certain new contributions. Creation of a new scope note is automatically flagged in the revision history.
220.127.116.11.3.4. Logical organization of the project
An initial step in organizing the translation project is to decide upon a practical approach that is suited to the available resources and the parties involved. In past and current AAT translation projects, several approaches have been used.
18.104.22.168.3.4.1. Facet by facet approach
If the project intends to translate the full AAT, one way to approach the project is to organize the work facet by facet. In this approach, begin with the facet that is most convenient for the available resources and expertise.
A further advantage to the facet-by-facet translation is that the project will have a defined set of finished records that can be easily explained and shown when tracking their progress to administrators or funding suppliers.
The Objects Facet is a good choice for initial translation work, because it is relatively easy to find published sources and definitions for many object types. Thus, to a large extent, the experts working on this facet would primarily require good general knowledge of art and have good research skills, rather than requiring extremely specialized knowledge. Other facets, such as Materials and Styles and Periods, may each require several translators expert in various disciplines, because the terms are more specialized. A caveat for beginning with the Objects Facet is that it contains a large number of concept records, and thus will take more time to complete than would a smaller facet.
22.214.171.124.3.4.2. Terms matching existing terms approach
Another approach for organizing a translation is to begin by mapping existing terminology in the target language back to the master AAT. A project may begin with the translations that they require immediately; for example, they may map existing terminology already in use by their partner institutions, such as object types, to the equivalents of these terms in the master AAT. See also Interoperability below.
The advantage to this approach could be that the project can immediately begin demonstrating the utility of their project’s work to stakeholders, allowing improved access to existing materials through the multilingual AAT.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Selective mapping
After the initial mapping or translation of existing terms, the project may continue the full translation, ideally by filling in missing equivalents for concepts, facet by facet.
A selective mapping or selective translation is a partial mapping to only the terms used or likely to be used in the second vocabulary. In some translations of the AAT, the translators stopped after the initial selective mapping, and the translation for that language has been left unfinished. It is hoped that partial translations will be completed later by other translators.
184.108.40.206.3.4.3. Contributing new concept records
No matter which method of organizing the translation is used, it is likely that the translating project will encounter terms required for their needs but missing from the master AAT. In such cases, the project should contribute the new concept to the AAT, with terms in both the target language and also a suggested English descriptor. See more information on Contributing new concepts above.
Translating Terms from Source to Target Languages
220.127.116.11.1. Direct mapping of terms
The method of translation and mapping described in this document is a direct mapping, which generally refers to the matching of concepts one-to-one in the source and target languages. This technique assumes that there will be the same meaning and level of specificity between the two terms representing the concept in each language.
In the case of the AAT, it agreed that the hierarchical structure will also be the same; however, in a general sense, direct mapping may be used for mapping vocabularies that have different structure.
18.104.22.168.2. Structural unity
In a translation of an existing vocabulary such as the AAT, a direct mapping or translation between the English source and the target language will be relatively easy. Mapping or translation should occur between descriptors in the source language and descriptors in the target language.
However, for the AAT this approach requires structural unity, or agreement on the thesaural structure of the master AAT by the translating projects. When translators agree to use the original hierarchical structure of the vocabulary in the source language, a coordinated translation is much more successful. If the organization of the terms is not in debate, translators are free to focus on determining equivalents for the source-language descriptors.
The associative relationships of the existing source AAT should also be assumed by the target-language translation.
For discussion and rules regarding hierarchical and associative relationships, see Editorial Guidelines: Hierarchical relationships and Associative relationships.
22.214.171.124.2.1. Suggestions for changes
When translating projects have issues or suggestions regarding editorial rules or the alteration or addition of hierarchical and associative relationships, they should go through established channels for feedback to the Getty Vocabulary Program. See Feedback above.
126.96.36.199.2.2. Mapping between two vocabularies
Mapping two existing vocabularies in different languages having different hierarchical structures and different scopes would be much more difficult than translating from a source language. Mapping between existing vocabularies is not fully addressed in these guidelines; instead, see guidelines and rules in ISO 25964-2:2013. For a brief discussion of the issues, see Mapping vs translating below.
188.8.131.52.3. Record type
Record type is a flag indicating the general type of thing described in the record. In a thesaurus such as the AAT, record types identify records according to their role in the thesaurus.
A concept is the subject of the AAT record, that is, the concept to which the terms refer. Concept records contain terms that are appropriate for indexing.
184.108.40.206.3.2. Organizational levels
Organizational levels of the thesaurus organize concepts. The root of the AAT hierarchical structure is Top of the AAT hierarchies. Facets, guide terms, and hierarchy names serve as organizational levels of the thesaurus; they are not intended for indexing.
Facets are the fundamental categories of the AAT, located directly under the root or top level of the thesaurus. All concepts in the AAT must fit logically under one of the existing facets; the AAT does not allow orphan terms.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Associated Concepts Facet
In this facet are included terms for all abstract concepts and phenomena that relate to the study and execution of various areas of human thought and activity, including architecture and art in all media, as well as related disciplines. Also covered here are theoretical and critical concerns, ideologies, attitudes, and social or cultural movements (e.g., beauty, balance, connoisseurship, metaphor, freedom, socialism). The only hierarchy name or sub-facet here is Associated Concepts (hierarchy name).
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Physical Attributes Facet
In this facet are included terms for the perceptible or measurable characteristics of materials and artifacts as well as features of materials and artifacts, such as size and shape, chemical properties of materials, qualities of texture and hardness, and features such as surface ornament and color (e.g., strapwork, borders, round, waterlogged, brittleness). The hierarchy names or sub-facets here are Attributes and Properties, Conditions and Effects, Design Elements, and Color.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Styles and Periods Facet
In this facet are included terms for stylistic groupings, distinct chronological periods, and cultures (e.g., French, Middle Paleolithic, Louis XIV, Xia, Black-figure, Abstract Expressionist). The only hierarchy name or sub-facet is Styles and Periods (hierarchy name).
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Agents Facet
In this facet are included terms for roles or designations of people, groups of people, and organizations identified by occupation or activity, by physical or mental characteristics, or by social role or condition; plants and animals are also included (e.g., printmakers, landscape architects, corporations, religious orders, Acer palmatum (species)). The hierarchy names or sub-facets are People, Organizations, and Living Organisms.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Activities Facet
In this facet are included terms for areas of endeavor, physical and mental actions, discrete occurrences, systematic sequences of actions, processes, and branches of learning and professional fields (e.g., archaeology, engineering, analyzing, contests, exhibitions, drawing (image-making)). The hierarchy names or sub-facets are Disciplines, Functions, Events, Physical and Mental Activities, and Processes and Techniques.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Materials Facet
In this facet are included terms for physical substances, whether naturally or synthetically derived, such as raw materials and those that have been formed or processed into products that are used in fabricating structures or objects (e.g., iron, clay, modular brick, adhesive, emulsifier, artificial ivory, millwork). The only hierarchy name or sub-facet is Materials (hierarchy name).
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Objects Facet
In this facet are included terms for discrete tangible or visible things that are inanimate and, with a few exceptions, produced by human endeavor or given form by human activity; also included are natural landscape features (e.g., paintings, amphorae, facades, cathedrals, Brewster chairs, gardens, bights).The hierarchy names or sub-facets are Built Environment, Components, Object Genres, Object Groupings and Systems, and Visual and Verbal Communication.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Brand Names Facet
In this facet are included terms for stylistic groupings, distinct chronological periods, and cultures relevant to art, architecture, the decorative arts, archaeology, and related disciplines (e.g., Aquazol (TM), Fome-Cor (R)). The only hierarchy name or sub-facet is Brand Names (hierarchy name).
188.8.131.52.3.2.2. Hierarchy name
In the AAT, the hierarchy name refers to a sub-facet directly under a facet, used for broad level organization.
184.108.40.206.3.2.3. Guide terms
In the AAT, guide term refers to a node label record created as a hierarchical level to provide order and structure to the thesaurus by grouping narrower terms according to a given logic, but where no concept is appropriate as a broader context (e.g., <conditions and effects by specific type>). In English, guide terms usually contain the word “by.” Guide terms within the AAT are designated in displays by angled brackets, as seen in the example below.
Top of the AAT hierarchies
.... Physical Attributes Facet
........ Conditions and Effects (hierarchy name)
................ <conditions and effects by general type>
................ <conditions and effects by specific type>
.................... abrasion (condition or effect)
........................ abrash (abrasion)
........................ sanding (abrasion)
........................ cementation (geological condition)
.................... blanching (clouding condition)
.................... bloom (clouding condition)
220.127.116.11.4. Basic information about terms
In the AAT, a term is a word or phrase denoting a discrete concept in the context of a particular subject. In order to qualify as a term in the AAT, the word or words must be used consistently in multiple authoritative sources to always refer to exactly the same concept.
A term understood in this sense is not the same thing as a heading, which may concatenate multiple terms (and multiple concepts) together in a string (e.g., Architecture—Aesthetics—Japan). However, terms may be combined by users to create labels or headings where necessary.
For each concept, the AAT may include spelling variants, scientific and common terms, various forms of speech, synonyms that have various etymological roots, and terms in multiple languages, provided that all terms are exact equivalents that refer to the same concept.
For a full discussion of AAT terms, see Editorial Manual: Terms.
18.104.22.168.4.1. Term types
Within an AAT concept record, terms are flagged by term type. In the jargon of thesaurus construction, terms may be descriptors, alternate descriptors, or used-for terms.
22.214.171.124.4.1.1. Descriptor (D)
In a thesaurus, a descriptor is the term recommended to best represent the concept in displays and indexing. A multilingual thesaurus may have multiple descriptors, one in each language represented. See also preferred terms.
126.96.36.199. Alternate descriptor (ALT or AD)
An alternate descriptor is usually a variant grammatical form of a descriptor; it is most often a singular noun or a different part of speech than the descriptor. For example, in English, the singular noun lithograph is an alternate descriptor for the plural noun descriptor, lithographs.
188.8.131.52. Used-for term (UF)
In a thesaurus, a used-for term is a term that is not a descriptor and not an alternate descriptor, but is included in the same concept record as an equivalent. In the AAT, used-for terms comprise spelling or grammatical variants of the descriptor or have true synonymy with the descriptor, as illustrated in the example below.
• sparver beds (preferred) (Descriptor)
sparver bed (Alternate Descriptor)
beds, sparver (Used For)
sparver bedsteads (Used For)
sperver beds (Used For)
184.108.40.206.4.1.4. Application of term types
A descriptor in the AAT should be the term most often used to refer to the concept in authoritative and scholarly literature in a given language. Alternate descriptors are typically different parts of speech for the descriptor.
If a thesaurus is used as an authority, only the descriptors and alternate descriptors are used for indexing. However, users of the AAT are encouraged to index with the term that suits local institutional or scholarly preferences. They may index with a used-for term instead of a descriptor or alternate descriptor; so long as all terms are linked in the relevant concept record, efficient retrieval may be achieved no matter which term a user may prefer. In retrieval, all terms are equal. The synonyms, multilinguality, hierarchy, and associative relationships of the AAT greatly enhance both precision and recall in end-user searches.
220.127.116.11.4.2. Preferred terms
In an AAT concept record, terms are flagged with preferences of various types, including a preferred term for the record overall, a preferred term for a given language, a preferred term for a given contributor, and a preferred term for a given source.
Terms do not include the qualifier; note that the qualifier is a data element separate from the term in the AAT. The preferences described below refer to the term only, not to a combination of term plus qualifier. Qualifiers are determined according to separate rules, and are subject to more frequent changes than are the terms themselves.
For a full discussion of preferred terms, see Editorial Guidelines: Preferred term. See also Preferred terms for the target language below.
18.104.22.168.4.2.1. Record-preferred term
For each concept in the AAT, one term among the synonyms is flagged as the preferred term for the record overall. The values for the record-preferred flag are preferred and variant. Variant is more inclusive than the word implies; it may refer to not only variants of the preferred term, but to any synonym in the record.
There is only one record-preferred term in each AAT record. Flagging a record-preferred term allows it to be selected by default for displays, if the implementer so chooses. Selection of a preferred term should be based upon established and documented criteria. For the sake of predictability, these criteria should be applied consistently throughout the controlled vocabulary. In the AAT, the record-preferred term is the English descriptor.
22.214.171.124.4.2.2. Language-preferred term
The AAT prescribes that there should be a term preferred for each language represented in the record, if possible. Given that there are, at any given time, partial translations for some languages, the language-preferred term may occasionally be missing for some languages in a concept record. The values for the language-preferred flag are preferred, non-preferred, and undetermined.
The preferred term for a language is the term used most often in authoritative, scholarly literature in the given language. Beyond this dictate, other rules, concerns, and sensitivities may be addressed when choosing a preferred term. The preferred term for any given language in the AAT is a descriptor or alternate descriptor, depending upon the rules of the language. In the example below, the language-preferred terms for English are plural nouns, while for German they are singular nouns.
1. diptychs (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
2. diptych (English,Alternate Descriptor,U,Singular Noun)
3. Diptychen (German,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
4. Diptychon (German-Pref,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
5. Diptycha (German,Used For,Plural Noun)
6. 雙聯畫 (C,U,Chinese (traditional)-Pref,Descriptor,Noun)
7. 雙聯畫屏 (C,U,Chinese (traditional),Used For,Noun)
8. shuāng lián huà (Chinese (transliterated Hanyu Pinyin)-Pref,Used For,Noun)
9. shuang lian hua (Chinese (transliterated Pinyin without tones)-Pref,Used For,Noun)
10. shuang lien hua (C,U,Chinese (transliterated Wade-Giles)-Pref,Used For,Noun)
11. diptieken (Dutch-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
12. diptiek (Dutch,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
13. tweeluiken (Dutch,Used For,Plural Noun)
14. dittici (Italian-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
15. dittico (Italian,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
16. dípticos (Spanish-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
17. díptico (Spanish,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
126.96.36.199.4.2.3. Contributor-preferred term
Contributors may flag the term that is preferred by their institution. For translating projects, their contributor-preferred term is the descriptor or alternate descriptor for the target language. However, for other contributors, a contributor-preferred term may be a used-for term, based on local preference.
1. diptychs (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
2. diptych (English,Alternate Descriptor,U,Singular Noun)
3. Diptychen (German,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
4. Diptychon (German-Pref,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
Contributor: IfM-SMB-PK -preferred
188.8.131.52.4.2.4. Source-preferred term
The term preferred by a given published source should be flagged. This is the main entry word in dictionaries and encyclopedia, the term used for the concept in titles of books or articles, or the term in the glossary or text of scholarly or authoritative works. The values for the source-preferred flag are preferred, non-preferred, alternate preferred, and unknown.
An identifying code or page number for the source may be included in the page field, as for the Library of Congress control number in the example below.
1. diptychs (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
Source: Grove Art Online (2008-)-alternate preferred
Source: Oxford Companion to Art (1984)- alternate preferred
Source: Library of Congress Authorities online (2002-)-preferred
Page: sh 85038241
184.108.40.206.4.3. Part of speech
The part of speech of the term may be noted, indicating the category into which the term would be placed relative to its normal function in a grammatical context.
220.127.116.11.4.3.1. Part of speech flag
Values for the so-called part of speech flag are noun, plural noun, singular noun, both singular and plural noun, past participle, verbal noun/gerund, adjectival, and undetermined. Some values in this controlled list do not actually refer to parts of speech per se, for example, plural noun. The definitions of the values are explained in the Editorial Guidelines: Part of Speech.
It is strongly recommended to use the part of speech flag is to distinguish plural noun descriptors from singular noun alternate descriptors. This will allow implementers and end users to identify the plural terms for indexing (in English, used by libraries) and singular terms for displays (used by museums, who also often index with the singular form).
Flagging past participles and adjectival forms is encouraged, as time and editorial priorities allow, since this may assist end users in constructing unbound modified terms for local use (e.g., Baroque + costume).
18.104.22.168.4.3.2. Part of speech for preferred term
Each facet in the AAT has rules regarding which part of speech or other form of the term should be used for the descriptors in that facet. For example, in the Objects Facet, each descriptor in English is the plural form of the noun and the alternate descriptor is the singular form. See the Editorial Guidelines: Preferred Term for a full discussion of which part of speech should be used for each facet. However, brief general guidelines for English terms are included below.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Descriptors for count nouns
For the descriptor, use the plural for count nouns, that is, for nouns that would be quantified by "how many?" If the preferred term is a plural, make an alternate descriptor in the singular form.
• chairs (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
chair (English,Alternate Descriptor)
• codices (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
codex (English,Alternate Descriptor)
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Descriptors for mass nouns
For the preferred term, use the singular for mass nouns, that is, for those nouns that would be quantified by "how much?"
• iron (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
• additive (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
• correspondence (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
If the concept is generally quantified by "how much," but could also occasionally be quantified by "how many," include the plural as an alternate descriptor.
• embroidery (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
Qualifier: visual works
embroideries (English,Alternate Descriptor)
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Descriptors for processes, properties, and conditions
For the preferred term, use the singular for processes, properties, and conditions.
• absorption (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
• boiling point (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
• color shift (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
• radiocarbon dating (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Descriptors for materials
For the preferred term, use the singular noun for materials. Add a plural form of the term as an alternate descriptor, if appropriate.
• stone (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
stones (English,Alternate Descriptor)
• paint (Record-Preferred) (English,Descriptor)
paints (English,Alternate Descriptor)
188.8.131.52.4.3.3. User preferences re. singular/plural
For most nouns, both the singular and plural forms are included as the descriptor and alternate descriptors. This allows users of the AAT to select either singular or plural nouns for indexing, depending upon context. Both singular and plural nouns may also be included for used-for terms, but are not required.
In English-language bibliographic cataloging, it is accepted that indexing terms for nouns will be the plural form; for this community, it is an accepted condition of indexing.
However, for art institutions, having the ability to choose between singular and plural forms is an important requirement that renders the vocabulary either acceptable or unacceptable for their needs. For example, if a museum wishes to index the work type for an altarpiece, they do not want to be forced to use the plural altarpieces. On the other hand, if they are cataloging multiple stipple engravings as a group, they will wish to use the plural term. In the AAT, the inverted form of the descriptor, if any, is also included for those users who wish to use the inverted form for purposes of sorting.
For differences in singular and plural preferences in various target languages for translation, see Singular and plural preferences below.
184.108.40.206.4.4. Additional flags for terms
The so-called other flags in the AAT distinguish additional important term designations. The values are full term, abbreviation, neologism, jargon/slang, scientific term, common term, chemical name, and not applicable. Terms described by many of these designations, for example abbreviations, are inappropriate as a descriptor; however, they are welcome as used-for terms.
220.127.116.11.4.4.1. Slang and jargon
In general, do not use slang or jargon as a descriptor. Slang is casual or informal language. Jargon is specialized technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject or discipline, but unknown or ambiguous outside of that discipline.
In the AAT, slang terms and jargon would be included as used-for terms, but would be the descriptor only if no other warranted term existed for the concept. For example, pyrite would be the preferred term for the mineral, and the slang term fools’ gold would be a used-for term.
18.104.22.168.4.4.2. Popular and scientific terms
If a popular term and a scientific term refer to the same concept, in the AAT the scientific term should be preferred, provided that the scientific term is not so specialized as to be considered jargon. In addition to the scientific term, the plural and singular versions (if applicable) of the common term most often used in authoritative sources should be alternate descriptors. This is an exception to the rule that an alternate descriptor must be a derivative form of the descriptor.
For example, Lepisma saccharina (species) would be the descriptor for this species of insect, but the common term silverfish (species) would be an alternate descriptor, flagged for use by those who prefer not to use the Latin binomial. The ambiguous term bristle tails, which is slang or jargon for this species used in the pest control industry, would be included as a used-for term.
For a recently invented or emerging concept, the descriptor may be a neologism. In the AAT, a neologism is a newly created or coined term that was recently introduced in professional or popular literature.
• televillages (Record-Preferred) (English, Descriptor)
• 3-D printing (Record-Preferred) (English, Descriptor)
Such terms are typically not yet included in standard dictionaries and it may therefore be difficult to find three sources of warrant. However, three sources are required for a published AAT term; for neologisms, rather than requiring dictionaries, encyclopedia, and text books as sources, journal articles, newspaper articles, authoritative Web sites, and databases may be used.
In these guidelines, terms invented by translators but lacking literary warrant are not considered neologisms; see coined terms.
22.214.171.124.4.5. Current vs historical terms
Terms in the AAT may be indicated as currently in use or historical. The values of the historical flag are current, historical, both, and not applicable.
126.96.36.199.4.5.1. Current terms
Most terms in the AAT are currently in use. Terms found in dictionaries and encyclopedia are almost always current, unless otherwise indicated.
188.8.131.52.4.5.2. Historical terms
Historical terms are terms that were used in the past, but for which there is no warrant in current authoritative sources. A descriptor should never be historical.
Note that a distinction is made between the term as historical in usage and the concept as historical. Even if an object type, style, or other AAT concept is itself historical, the term used to refer to the concept is most likely current. For example, atlatls are distinctive sticks used to throw spears and made by various ancient and pre-Columbian cultures. The object is primarily historical, but the term used to refer to it, atlatls, is current.
Historical terms may be included in an AAT concept record if the term is historical in usage, but refers to precisely the same concept as the descriptor. Political and social changes can cause a proliferation of terms that refer to the same concept over time. For example, the term used to refer to the ethnic group of mixed Bushman-Hamite descent with some Bantu admixture, now found principally in South Africa and Namibia, was previously called Hottentot. That term now has derogatory overtones, so the term Khoikhoi is preferred. However, the AAT includes both terms as equivalents, since they refer to the same culture and provide access in research and discovery.
Khoikhoi (Record-Preferred) ( Current)
Khoikhoin (English, Used For)
Khoekhoe (English, Used For)
KhoiKhoi (Dutch-Pref, Descriptor)
(English, Used For)
(English, Used For)
Display Date: now considered pejorative, used after 1652 to mid-20th century
Start Date: 1652 End Date: 1970
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11. Dates for terms
Dates may be included for terms, delimiting the time period when the term was used or is still used. The date comprises a set of three fields, a free-text display date used to relay ambiguity and nuance and indexed with start date and end date, which are integers representing the broadest span of years implied in the display date.
As in the example of the term Hottentot above, the display date note may contain information other than a reference to date of usage. For a discussion of dates, including how to estimate implied spans in start and end dates, see Editorial Guidelines: Dates for Terms. See also Display date notes below.
18.104.22.168.4.6. Compound terms
A compound term is a term that may be split morphologically in two or more components. In English, compound terms are often, but not always, multiword terms. A compound term typically has a focus word (base form) and one or more modifiers (determinative elements).
22.214.171.124.4.6.1. Bound terms
A bound term is a compound term representing a single concept, characterized by the fact that the words almost always occur together in scholarly literature and the meaning is lost or altered if the term is split into its component words (ISO 25964:1-2 (2011–2013)). In the AAT, each term must represent a single concept or unit of thought: a single concept is frequently expressed by a single-word term, but in many cases a multiword term may be required to represent the concept, so long as it is a bound term.
In order to avoid repetitive and overly complicated vocabularies, standard best practice is to include only compound terms that are also bound terms. However, the types and frequency of compound terms will vary from language to language in translations. Below are examples of single-word and bound compound terms in English in the AAT.
stained glass (material)
stained glass (visual works)
Indian horse chestnut (species)
126.96.36.199.4.6.2. Unbound compound terms
Unbound compound terms are not allowed in the AAT. However, terms may be combined by users in cataloging or retrieval. Below are examples of unbound compound terms in English, combining style or material plus object type.
Baroque + cathedral
Baroque + palace
Baroque + painting
Baroque + concerto
bronze + sculpture
bronze + bowl
bronze + sword
188.8.131.52.4.6.3. Precoordination and postcoordination
Precoordination is the formulation of a compound term in the vocabulary or at the time of indexing, rather than at the time of retrieval. Postcoordination is the process of combining two or more terms at the time of retrieval.
Only bound terms are precoordinated in the AAT. However, institutions sometimes precoordinate unbound terms in their own systems for indexing or for creating headings and subheadings for browsing and navigation on a Web site.
Postcoordinate retrieval is very useful and often employed by systems developers and end users. One method is to use Boolean operators “and,” “or,” or “not” with terms in formulating a query.
184.108.40.206.4.7. Disambiguating homographs
A homograph is a term that is spelled the same as another term, but the meanings of the terms differ (ISO 25964:1-2 (2011–2013)). For example, drums may have at least three meanings in the AAT: they may be components of columns, walls that support a dome, or musical instruments classified as membranophones.
Words can be homographs whether or not they are pronounced alike. For example, bows, the forward-most ends of watercraft or airships, and bows, stringed projectile weapons designed to propel arrows, are spelled alike but pronounced differently.
220.127.116.11.4.7.1. Homonyms and polysemes
A homograph may be a homonym or a polyseme: Homonyms are terms that are spelled the same but have different meanings and unrelated origin. Polysemes are terms that are spelled the same and have related etymology and related, but not identical, meaning. In a dictionary, polyemes are typically listed under a single heading, with several definitions. For example, in a dictionary, drum would be listed as a noun with several definitions under a single heading. In a thesaurus such as the AAT, each homographic term is in a separate record, even if it has similar etymological origins.
Homophones are terms that are pronounced alike but spelled differently, for example bows and boughs; controlled vocabularies generally need not concern themselves with labeling homophones.
The use of homographs in the AAT requires clarification of their meaning with a qualifier. A qualifier is a word or phrase used with the term to make the specific meaning unambiguous in displays.
Qualifiers should be as brief as possible and of the same grammatical form as the term, if possible. Qualifiers may be derived from broader hierarchical terms, provided these broader terms will make the distinction clear and unambiguous.
In the AAT, qualifiers are recorded in a field separately from the term. They are displayed with the term in parentheses. Below are examples of homographs and qualifiers in English.
• drums (column components)
• drums (membranophones)
• drums (walls)
For a full discussion of how to create qualifiers in various circumstances, see Editorial Guidelines: Qualifiers. See also Qualifiers in the target language below.
18.104.22.168.4.7.4. Other ways to disambiguate terms
Labels or headings are concatenated strings of information used to provide context for terms when displayed in horizontal strings. In addition to the qualifier, headings and labels may be used to disambiguate homographs. The scope note will provide further meaning that is useful in disambiguation.
Below is an example of a label for an AAT concept, concatenated using the record-preferred term, its qualifier, the string of broader contexts in ascending order, and the unique identifier, the subject ID. Note that the long list of broader contexts has been truncated in this display. For further information on how to construct labels for the AAT, see Editorial Guidelines: Labels.
(<paintings by material or technique>, paintings (visual works), ... Visual and Verbal Communication (Hierarchy Name)) 
22.214.171.124.4.8. Unique identifiers
The AAT and the other Getty vocabularies rely upon unique, persistent numeric identifiers to disambiguate data within the overall structure of these large, complex thesauri. While qualifiers are for the human’s benefit in disambiguation, for automated information, disambiguation of the concept record, the terms, and several other fields of the AAT is done through various types of unique, persistent identification numbers and codes.
Editors normally need not concern themselves with the unique identifiers, since they are assigned by the computer system. However, unique identifiers are critical to implementers of the AAT and to those providing technical support to the editors, who must ensure the translations are in sync with the often-updated master AAT.
For additional discussion of persistent IDs, see Editorial Guidelines: Identifying numbers and Term ID. Below are examples of numeric identifiers for an AAT concept record and the terms and other data in the record.
Record Type: concept
Label: cinnabar (mineral) (mineral, inorganic material, ... Materials (Hierarchy Name))
Scope Note: A soft, dense, red, native ore composed of mercuric sulfide, found in deposits in veins near volcanic rocks or hot springs around the world. […]
cinnabar (mineral) (preferred,C,U,English-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403760
cenobrium (mineral) (C,U,English,UF,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403756
natural vermilion (mineral) (C,U,English,UF,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403762
cinabre (mineral) (C,U,French-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403757
cinabrio (mineral) (C,U,Spanish-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403758
cinabro (minerale) (C,U,Italian-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403760
cinábrio (mineral) (C,U,Portuguese-P,UF,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403774
cinnaber (mineraal) (C,U,Dutch-P,D,U,U) Term_ID: 1000539139
Zinnober (Mineral) (C,U,German-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403760
Zinnoberersatz (Mineral) (C,U,German,UF,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403771
tan-sha (C,U,Chinese (transliterated)-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403776
shinsha (C,U,Japanese (transliterated)-P,D,U,N) Term_ID: 1000403775
Materials Facet Subject_ID 300264091
.... Materials (Hierarchy Name) (G) Subject_ID 300010357
........ materials (matter) (G) Subject_ID 300010358
............ <materials by composition> (G) Subject_ID 300212963
................ inorganic material (G) Subject_ID 300010360
.................... mineral (G) Subject_ID 300011068
........................ cinnabar (mineral) (G) Subject_ID 300311452
Code 2818 source for .... cinnabar (pigment) Subject_ID 300400883
126.96.36.199.5. Establishing equivalents
Equivalence relationships are the relationships between synonymous terms for the same concept. In the example below, equivalence in the AAT is illustrated by a partial list of terms for one concept, including terms in singular and plural, natural order and inverted order, variations in spelling, and different languages.
• flying buttresses (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref, Descriptor)
flying buttress (English, Alternate Descriptor)
buttresses, flying (English, Used For)
flyers (buttresses) (English, Used For)
arch buttresses (English, Used For)
arched butments (English, Used For)
arched buttresses (English, Used For)
arcs-boutants (French-Pref, Descriptor)
飛扶壁 (C,U,Chinese (traditional)-Pref, Descriptor)
luchtbogen (Dutch-Pref, Descriptor)
botareles con arbotantes (Spanish-Pref, Descriptor)
Synonymy is a type of semantic relation in which two words or terms have the same or very similar meaning.
The AAT strives for true synonymy, which is the characteristic of terms that have meanings that are identical or as nearly identical as is possible. The purpose of enforcing true synonymy in the AAT is to increase precision in indexing and retrieval.
Near synonymy, also called quasi-synonymy, is the characteristic of a term with meaning that is regarded as different from another term, but the terms are treated as equivalents for the purposes of broadening retrieval. Near synonymy is found in some vocabularies, but it is not allowed between equivalent terms in the AAT. An example is ice cream and gelato. Both are frozen desserts made from dairy products, but ice cream is usually made with cream, and gelato is usually made with milk and has less air incorporated than ice cream.
Antonyms are terms having opposing meanings. In some vocabularies, antonyms are linked via the equivalence relationship, for example smoothness and roughness. In the AAT, these concepts would not linked as equivalents, but instead would be linked through associative relationships, with relationship type distinguished from.
188.8.131.52.5.1.1. True synonymy
In an AAT record, all terms that share an equivalence relationship should be either true synonyms or lexical variants of the descriptor or another term in the record.
True synonyms are terms for which meanings and also usage are identical or nearly identical in a wide range of contexts. Synonyms may include terms of different linguistic origin, dialectical variants, names in different languages, and scientific and common terms for the same concept.
True synonyms are relatively rare in natural language. In many cases, different terms or names may be interchangeable in some circumstances, but they should not necessarily be combined as synonyms in a single AAT record. Various factors must be considered when designating synonyms, including how nuance of meaning may vary and how usage may vary due to professional versus amateur contexts, historical versus current meanings, and neutral versus pejorative connotations.
If terms are not true synonyms, they should not be included in the same AAT record; instead, the non-synonymous terms should be included as descriptors, alternate descriptors, or used-for terms in a separate record. If appropriate, the two records may be linked with an associative relationship when they represent related concepts, but are not identical in meaning and usage.
184.108.40.206.5.1.2. Lexical variants
Although they are grouped with synonyms for practical purposes, lexical variants technically differ from synonyms in that synonyms are different terms for the same concept, while lexical variants are different word forms for the same expression. Lexical variants may result from spelling differences, grammatical variation, and abbreviations. Terms in inverted and natural order, plurals and singulars, and the use of punctuation may create lexical variants. In a controlled vocabulary, such terms should be linked via an equivalence relationship.
• dimidiating rhyta
• watercolor (paint)
water color (paint)
• Ancient Greek (language)
In the example below, the past participle embroidered is included in the record for the process embroidering.
Certain lexical variants should be flagged as alternate descriptors in the AAT. For a full discussion, see Editorial Guidelines: Non-Preferred terms.
• baluster columns (Descriptor)
baluster column (Alternate Descriptor)
• laminating (Descriptor)
laminated (Alternate Descriptor)
• mathematics (Descriptor)
mathematical (Alternate Descriptor)
220.127.116.11.5.2. Cross-language equivalence
When terms are in different languages in a multilingual thesaurus, each language may have descriptors, alternate descriptors, and used-for terms in its own language. The equivalence relationship of terms across languages is known as cross-language equivalence.
18.104.22.168.5.2.1. Primary objectives
In translating the AAT for multilingual equivalency, among the primary objectives are a) to maintain cross-language equivalence between the English descriptor and the target language descriptor, and b) to maintain intra-language equivalence between all terms in the target language for a given record.
22.214.171.124.5.2.2. Translate the descriptor
Translating projects should focus on translating the source-language English descriptor into the target language. Do not attempt to also translate the English used-for terms (UFs).
• Paleolithic (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref, Descriptor)
Eolithic period (English, Used For)
Old Stone Age (English, Used For)
舊石器時代 (Chinese (traditional)-Pref, Descriptor)
Paleolithisch (Dutch-Pref, Descriptor)
Paleolítico (Spanish-Pref, Descriptor)
However, if in translating the descriptor, it is discovered that there are appropriate used-for terms in the target language, the used-for terms in the target language should be included for that language.
126.96.36.199.5.3. Degrees of equivalence
The AAT advocates only true synonymy or exact equivalence between terms within a single concept record. However, there are other degrees of equivalence that may be used in other vocabularies. The full range of degrees of equivalence is listed here, for the sake of comparison.
188.8.131.52.5.3.1. Exact equivalence
The only degree of equivalence accepted in the AAT is the exact equivalence relationship. It is recognized as the most desirable match between terms in each language that are identical, or nearly identical, in meaning and scope of usage in each language. For example, the English term prayer nut and the Italian term noce di preghiera have the same meaning; the English term hard paste porcelain has the same meaning as the French term porcelaine à pâte dure.
184.108.40.206.5.3.2. Inexact and partial equivalences
In some vocabularies, in cases where a suitable preferred term with the exact meaning and usage of the original term is not available in the second language, terms are sometimes considered equivalents when they have only inexact or partial matches in scope and meaning. For example, the English science and the German Wissenschaft have overlapping but not identical meanings. In the AAT, the equivalent terms must have identical meanings.
In the AAT, if two terms have overlapping meaning, place the terms in separate concept records, and use associative relationships to make links between the concepts. Use the relationship type 2110 meaning/usage overlaps with.
220.127.116.11.5.3.3. Single-to-multiple term equivalence
In some vocabularies, if there is no match in scope and meaning between terms, a concept in one vocabulary is matched to multiple descriptors in the second language. For example, the Spanish term relojero means both watchmaker and clockmaker in English.
The AAT does not allow single-to-multiple term equivalence. In the AAT, recognizing this distinction would require including homographic terms in the two separate records, distinguished with qualifiers, relojero (de pulsera) and relojero (de pared).
In some vocabularies, a non-equivalence would be represented with a void when a) there is no exact match, b) no term in the second language has partial or inexact equivalence, and c) there is no combination of descriptors in the second language that would approximate a match. Methods for dealing with a lack of equivalence in the target language in the AAT are discussed below.
18.104.22.168.5.3.1. Generic posting
Generic posting refers to the practice of putting terms with broader and narrower contexts together in the same record. For example, if egg-oil tempera were included as an equivalent to tempera, this would be a generic posting because egg-oil tempera is a type of tempera.
Avoid generic postings in the AAT. Given that the AAT is striving for precise relationships, such terms should be linked with appropriate hierarchical relationships or associative relationships rather than as equivalents.
However, note that some legacy AAT records have generic postings; as they are discovered by the Getty Vocabulary Program, the used-for terms in these records will be deleted, and included in separate records as descriptors. This illustrates an important reason to avoid translating used-for terms from the source AAT; the source-language used-for terms may be eliminated.
22.214.171.124.5.4. Descriptor to descriptor translation
For each descriptor in the source AAT, the goal in translation should be to determine the exact equivalent term to be used as the descriptor in the target language. If the term requires an alternate descriptor, as when an object type is represented by plural and singular nouns, the alternate descriptor should also be supplied in the target language.
126.96.36.199.5.4.1. Descriptors in multiple languages
In the multilingual AAT, there may be one descriptor for each language. Vocabulary Program editors will defer to the choice of target-language descriptor provided by official translation projects. Translating projects should generally focus on creating descriptors only in the designated target language.
Other contributors of terminology, including those who are not translating projects, may include terms in various languages only if the term is provided by an authoritative published source. A contributor should not add or edit terms in any language unless he or she is fully competent in that language.
188.8.131.52.5.5. Preferred term in the target language
In the concept record, the preferred term in the target language should be the descriptor or alternate descriptor for that language. Considerations are discussed below in Singular and plural preferences in various languages. See also Preferred terms above.
184.108.40.206.5.5.1. Choosing the descriptor
The descriptor should be the term most often used for the concept in the authoritative published sources of that language.
Each language may have only one descriptor and usually only one alternate descriptor. Alternate descriptors must be variant forms of the descriptor, typically singular and plural forms of the same noun.
Each distinct language may have only one preferred term in a record. For example, there may not be two terms labeled as preferred for the Dutch language (70261/Dutch); see the example of hoogaltaren below. However, regional variations in language preference may be noted; for example the term preferred for a concept in Brazil may differ from the term preferred in Portugal for the same concept. Although both terms are Portuguese, such language variations are expressed by using separate language codes for each term (e.g., 70533/Brazilian Portuguese and 70532/European Portuguese).
• high altars (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
high altar (English,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
altars, high (English,Used For)
main altars (English,Used For)
hoogaltaren (C,U,Dutch-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
hoogaltaar (C,U,Dutch,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
hoofdaltaren (C,U,Dutch,Used For,Plural Noun)
hoofdaltaar (C,U,Dutch,Used For,Singular Noun)
altare summum (English,Used For,Loan Term,Singular Noun)
………………………..(Latin,Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
主祭壇 (C,U,Chinese (traditional)-Pref,Descriptor,Noun)
zhǔ jì tán (C,U,Chinese (transliterated Hanyu Pinyin)-Pref,Used For)
zhu ji tan (C,U,Chinese (transliterated Pinyin without tones)-Pref, Used For)
chu chi t'an (C,U,Chinese (transliterated Wade-Giles)-Pref, Used For)
altare maggiore (C,U,Italian-Pref,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
altares mayores (C,U,Spanish-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
altar mayor (C,U,Spanish,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
220.127.116.11.5.5.2. One term, multiple languages
Note that the same term may be used in multiple languages. The same term may represent different parts of speech or different term types in different languages. In the example below, chenet is a used-for term in Spanish, but an alternate descriptor in French.
• andirons (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
andiron (English, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
firedogs (English, Used For)
fire-dogs (English, Used For)
fire dogs (English, Used For)
chenets (French-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
chenet (Spanish, Used For, Singular Noun)
(French, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
morillos (Spanish-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
morillo (C,U,Spanish, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
18.104.22.168.5.5.3. Singular and plural preferences in various languages
General rules regarding singular and plural descriptors, alternate descriptors, and used-for terms are discussed in Preferred terms above. However, translating projects may diverge from the rules established for English plural and singular descriptors in order to flag the singular noun rather than the plural noun form as preferred for that language in certain hierarchies.
For example, in German the preferred term for concepts expressed as count nouns is the singular noun. The plural noun in German is still flagged as the descriptor, but the singular noun alternate descriptor is flagged as preferred for the German language.
In another example, in Chinese most nouns have the same form regardless of whether they are referring to one or multiple entities. The number of entities is inferred from context in speaking or in text. Thus, Chinese terms are not flagged singular or plural in the AAT.
•choragic monuments (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
choragic monument (English, ALT, Singular Noun)
monuments, choragic (English, UF) [inverted]
Choregendenkmäler (German, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
Choregendenkmal (German-Pref, ALT, Singular Noun)
得獎紀念碑 (Chinese (traditional)-Pref, Descriptor, Noun)
dé jiǎng jì niàn bēi (Chinese (transliterated Hanyu Pinyin)-P, UF,U, Noun)
If a translating project wishes to establish rules regarding singular and plural descriptors in a given language, ideally the rules should apply to all nations where the language is spoken. If this is impossible because there are differences in the same basic language between nations, a solution would be to label each national version of the language as a dialect or variant of the language, thus allowing different preferred terms to be linked to each dialect or variant language.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Singular and plural for the same term
The same term may be a singular in one language but a plural in another language. In the AAT, this variation is accommodated by listing the term once, with differences noted on the language information.
In the example below, filigrane is a plural noun in Italian, but a singular noun in French.
• watermarks (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
watermark (English,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
water marks (English, Used For)
water-marks (English, Used For)
filigrane (Italian-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
(French, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
filigranes (French-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
filigrana (Italian, Alternate Descriptor, singular Noun)
(Spanish, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
filigranas (Spanish-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
浮水印 (Chinese (traditional)-Pref, Descriptor, Noun)
watermerken (Dutch-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
watermerk (Dutch, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
papermarks (Historical, English, Used For)
In addition to noting preferred and variant terms, the AAT should serve as an orthographic authority. A combination of capitals and lowercase letters should therefore be used in recording terms, as dictated by rules in the given language.
English generic terms should be expressed in lower case. Exceptions include the names of styles and periods, which are by convention often capitalized (e.g., Renaissance), and terms that include the names of people or places (e.g., Palladian windows or Antwerp lace), or a brand name (e.g., Papersave Process (TM)). Acronyms and initialisms are generally expressed in all uppercase; however common usage may dictate only an initial capital or a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, or letters and numbers.
For terms in languages other than English, the capitalization rules of that language should be followed. For example, nouns in German are capitalized (e.g., altarpiece in English, Altarbild in German). Below are examples of capitalization of English terms in the AAT.
Avoid punctuation in terms, except for commas, hyphens, and apostrophes. Commas may be used for inverted terms. Hyphens may be used for hyphenated words. Apostrophes are allowed for possessives.
Punctuation in languages other than English is allowed as required by the rules for that language (e.g., pala’s in Dutch). The ampersand (&) may be used as a symbol in a trademark or a term based on a proper name. Parentheses in the term field are used only for the trademark or registered symbols. Parentheses surrounding qualifiers (e.g., cabinet pictures (paintings)) and the angled brackets around guide terms (e.g., <paintings by form>) are applied when the data is published. The data itself does not include angled brackets or parentheses around qualifiers, which are stored in a separate field.
188.8.131.52.5.6. How to determine the most commonly used term
The descriptor in the target language should be the term used most often to refer to the concept in authoritative and scholarly sources in the target language. If there are synonyms for the concept in the target language, a choice must be made regarding which term is most often used; this is determined by the preponderance of warrant in published sources in the target language.
Warrant for the term must be found in authoritative sources. In translations, a team member who is expert in the subject, and ideally also in the source and target languages, should make the first pass at suggesting an equivalent term in the target language. The suggestion of the expert should be backed up by literary warrant. Ideally, there should be three published sources for each descriptor, as proof that this is the most common form of the term rather than one person’s opinion.
184.108.40.206.5.6.1. Literary warrant
Literary warrant is published evidence that the form, spelling, usage, and meaning of the term are widely agreed upon in authoritative sources. If possible, the descriptor or alternate descriptor for a concept in any language should be found in at least three published, authoritative sources. Having three sources of warrant helps to assure that the descriptor is the term most widely used in the scholarly community.
If published sources are scarce, the opinion of a scholar or other expert may serve as one piece of warrant. If content experts are team members of the project, the translation project itself may be considered a source, which should be supplemented two additional sources. Museum databases and authoritative online sources are acceptable.
For used-for terms, only one piece of warrant is required. However, special care should be taken to ensure the used-for term as described in the source has exactly the same meaning and can be used interchangeably with the descriptor or alternate descriptor.
220.127.116.11.5.6.2. Authoritative sources
Prefer the most authoritative, up-to-date sources available. The translating project should provide its translating team with a list of sources that are appropriate for various sections of the AAT, preferably done in consultation with content experts.
General types of sources for the AAT may include the following:
Standard general reference sources
major authoritative language dictionaries
library authority headings
Other authoritative sources
other authoritative thesauri and controlled vocabularies
textbooks (e.g., Gardner, Art through the Ages; Janson, History of Art)
Other resources covering pertinent topics
books, journal articles, and newspaper articles
archives, historical documents, and other original sources
databases of contributors
articles or databases on museum or university Web sites
written or oral opinions of scholars or other experts
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124. Unsuitable sources
Avoid commercial sites. Avoid Wikipedia and other crowd-sourced resources, where the quality and authoritativeness of the information is unreliable. However, such resources may include citations to authoritative publications that could be further consulted as acceptable sources.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Availability of sources
Whereas in past decades finding warrant for AAT terms was time-consuming and reliant upon which books were available in a given library, finding literary warrant today is much easier. Currently, there are so many books and articles available online that finding warrant for exact forms of a term is generally fast and successful. It is even possible to do comparison counts of variant spellings found in an online portal or search engine, in order to determine which spelling is used most often.
Sources found in an online portal should be cited and recorded as the hardcopy source would be cited, provided the online version is an accurate representation of the hardcopy resource.
See the AAT Editorial Guidelines: Sources for instructions on recording citations for sources of all types, including Web sites and oral opinions.
184.108.40.206.5.6.3. Spelling of the term must match the source
The goal of finding warrant for a descriptor includes determining the most often used spelling of the term in the target language.
In most cases, the form of the term, including capitalization, use of hyphens, and diacritics should match the source exactly in order to be considered a valid source for the term. If a term in the source differs in capitalization or hyphenization, this is considered a separate term in the AAT, typically a used-for term.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Exception for capitalization
Note that some published sources, such as encyclopedia entry titles, library subject headings, and dictionaries may use conventions for capitalization that do not accord with the rules of the AAT. In such cases, the source may be used as warrant for the term, even though the capitalization of that term in the AAT record is determined according to AAT rules.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Exception for transliterations
Another exception to the three-sources rule may be for transliterations of a descriptor. If the term has been found in three sources, and if the translating project is expert in the various transliterations, transliterations may be included with only the translating project as authoritative warrant.
188.8.131.52.5.6.4. Meaning in source must match scope note
Note that the term in the published sources must have not only the same spelling, but also precisely the same meaning as defined in the scope note of the AAT concept.
A common problem in AAT translations is failure to find warrant where the meaning of the term in the source is the same as the intended meaning of the AAT term. If the source defines or uses the term differently than intended in the AAT record, the source may not be used as warrant for the term, even though the spelling of the term is the same.
184.108.40.206.5.7. When the target language lacks an equivalent
When an exact equivalent cannot be found in published sources in the target language, several options exist for resolving the issue.
The language status flag should be used to indicate any special cases in translations. The default is not applicable, where the translation is an exact equivalent in the target language. For example, the English term tin mines is translated in French as mines d'étain. The language status for this translation would be not applicable, meaning the translation is sourced and without problems. If a special case is in effect, use the values for the language status flag: loan term, literal translation, or translation not applicable.
220.127.116.11.5.7.1. Loan terms
If there is no equivalent in the target language, one option is to fill the gap with a loan term. In the AAT, a loan term is a foreign word or phrase that is routinely used instead of a translation of the term into the native language. Including a loan term requires that the term is found in authoritative sources in the target language.
An example may be seen in English: The term lits à la romaine refers to a particular type of bed peculiar to late 17th-century French furniture; the best way to represent that term in the English language is to use the French term as a loan term. This usage is supported by literary warrant. The Italian term maestà, denoting a pictorial work of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child of a particular iconographic type, is never translated into any other language; it is simply retained in the original Italian as a loan term in authoritative sources.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124. Degree of borrowing
Creators of vocabularies must be aware that loan terms are adopted in usage with various degrees of borrowing. For example, in English loan terms are often, but not always, anglicized in the plural. In the AAT, the plural loan term is determined by the form found in authoritative sources in the given language, which results in unavoidable inconsistency across the database.
The following are examples of loan terms in English with plurals in the original language as well as anglicized forms ending in an “s”:
• trousseaux (Record-Preferred)
…..English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun, Loan Term
…..French-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun
…..English Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun, Loan Term
…..French, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun
…..English, Used For, Plural Noun
• Schnitzaltars (Record-Preferred)
…..English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun
…..English Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun, Loan Term
…..German, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun
…..German-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun
126.96.36.199.5.7.2. Literal translations and coined terms
A less desirable, but sometimes necessary, solution for gaps in the target language due to lack of equivalents is the adoption of a literal translation or coined term in the target language. In the AAT, a coined term is a new term invented for the purpose of translation, generally by literally translating the word or words of the term from the source to the target language, but without authoritative warrant in the target language for the usage of the term as a loan term.
In full translations of a large thesaurus, coined terms are the best alternative in certain situations, in order to avoid hundreds of gaps in the translation. In AAT translations, coined terms are typically used when a concept is extremely specialized, not present in the culture of the target language, and particularly when the original source-language term is a compound term for which the individual words are easily translated. For example, currently in the AAT, the English term berry spoons is translated in French as petites louches à fruits rafraîchis, even though warrant for this term has not been found in French sources.
The target-language coined term should reflect the same level of specificity as the source-language descriptor. The coined term may be a syntactic expression, built from two or more words in the same order as if they were found in a grammatical construction (e.g., petites louches à fruits rafraîchis). However, ideally the coined term should be brief; long descriptive phrases should be avoided, if possible.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Coined-term descriptors as temporary
It is the translating project’s decision when to use the occasional coined term. Translating projects are considered experts in the target language; the AAT editorial team accepts their judgment in employing this strategy.
In some cases, the literal translation is created as a temporary solution. An example is when the coined term refers to a new technology or technique; the translating project may have the intention of going back at a later time to replace the descriptor, where authoritative literature in the target language has appeared. Note however, that the original literal-translation descriptor would not be deleted in such cases; once the descriptor is published, deleting it would cause undue problems for users of the AAT (see Necessary changes above). If the coined-term descriptor is later replaced in the target language, the original coined term would be retained a used-for term.
220.127.116.11.5.7.3. Translation not applicable
Even if lacking warrant for a loan term in the target language, the translating project may occasionally decide to retain the English descriptor as the target-language descriptor. One factor in using this method rather than coining a term may be that the user audience in the target language generally understands English.
As with coined terms, the translation project at a later date may find warrant in the target language for a different descriptor, which would be used instead. Below is an example of the English term retained as the Dutch descriptor.
slipper chairs (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
…………. (Dutch-Pref,Descriptor,Translation N/A,Plural Noun)
slipper chair (English,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
…………. (Dutch,Alternate Descriptor, Translation N/A,Singular Noun)
18.104.22.168.5.8. Qualifiers in the target language
Qualifiers are words or phrases used to disambiguate homographs. They are recorded in a field separate from the term in the AAT. See also Qualifiers above.
The qualifier should be in the language of the term. Translate the English qualifier, if appropriate.
However, if the source-language English term has a qualifier, this does not necessarily mean that the target-language term also requires a qualifier. For example, cedar (wood) in English; cèdre (bois) in French; cedro (madera) in Spanish; but cederhout in Dutch, with no qualifier required.
22.214.171.124.5.8.1. When to assign a qualifier for a homograph
If a term is a homograph of another term in the AAT, a qualifier should be added to both terms for clarity. Qualifiers should be designated for homographs that are descriptors, and also for alternate descriptors and used-for terms.
In addition, if a term is a homograph for another common term in standard language, even if the second term is not in the vocabulary, it is useful to add a qualifier for clarity. Remember that the term will not always be considered by end users within the context of the full AAT.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Qualifiers for homographs outside the target language
Translating projects should add qualifiers to any term in the target language that is a homograph in the AAT. This includes not only homographic terms in the target language, but all homographic terms in the AAT regardless of language.
However, the translating project is not responsible for adding qualifiers to terms in languages other than their immediate target language. The Getty Vocabulary Program runs reports annually to find homographs requiring qualifiers, and then either provides qualifiers for these other terms or passes the task on to another translating project.
In the example below, the Spanish term corona would require a qualifier tocado, even if there were not another Spanish-language homograph in the AAT. This is true because the term corona in Spanish is a homograph for English and Italian terms.
• [AAT 300046020]
crowns (headdresses) (English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
crown (headdress) (English, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
coronas (tocados) (Spanish, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
corona (tocado) (Spanish, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
…….(copricapo) (Italian, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
• [AAT 300001800]
coronas (cornice components) (English-Pref, Descriptor, Plural Noun)
corona (cornice component) (English, Alternate Descriptor, Singular Noun)
coronas de cornisas (Spanish-Pref, Descriptor,Plural Noun)
corona de cornisa (Spanish,Alternate Descriptor,Singular Noun)
184.108.40.206.5.8.2. Qualifiers vs compound terms
Qualifiers in the AAT should be used only to disambiguate homographs, not to represent a compound concept, to define a term, or to establish a term’s hierarchical context.
A qualifier is sometimes called a gloss; however, in linguistic jargon a gloss actually has the more general meaning of any term or phrase providing meaning or explanation for difficult words or passages. In contrast, a qualifier is used only to disambiguate homographs, not to define the term or provide context (although it may do so coincidentally because these characteristics may be what distinguish a term from its homograph).
220.127.116.11.5.8.3. How to create a qualifier
Qualifiers should be as brief as possible, ideally consisting of one or two words. In most cases, a word or words from a broader context of the term should be used as the qualifier (for example in English, stained glass (material), where stained glass is a hierarchical descendent of materials). Qualifiers for all homographs should clearly disambiguate the terms in displays. For example, stained glass (material) and stained glass (visual works) distinguish the material from the art works made from the material.
If a word or words taken from the broader context will not sufficiently disambiguate between homographs, use a word or words describing another significant distinguishing characteristic.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124. Consistency in qualifiers
Qualifiers should be standardized as much as possible within the language. For example in English, films and motion pictures should not both be used as qualifiers because films is a used-for term for motion pictures.
When possible, the qualifier should have the same grammatical form as the term, as with the nouns and gerunds in the examples below.
• Term: trailers Qualifier: motion pictures
• Term: trailers Qualifier: vehicles
• Term: forging Qualifier: copying
• Term: forging Qualifier: metal forming
126.96.36.199.5.9. Languages in the AAT
For the AAT, terms and scope notes may be recorded in any language, provided there is warrant and the term or note is expressed in Unicode (Unicode Consortium, Unicode 7.0 (2014)).
Note that a language designation for an AAT descriptor, alternate descriptor, or used-for term does not necessarily mean that the words forming the term possess a derivation from that language. It means only that this is a term used in that language. For example, in English, the French term cartes-de-visite (card photographs) is a descriptor in English, because the French term is used in authoritative English-language sources, including English dictionaries. The qualifier for the English-usage term is in English.
(card photographs) (Record-Preferred)(English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun,Loan Term)
(fotografische kaarten) (Dutch-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun,Loan Term)
(photographies) (French-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun, Loan Term)
188.8.131.52.5.9.1. Displays in multiple languages
The preferred terms in each language should be flagged, so that the thesaurus may be displayed in any of the translated languages. Designating a term as language-preferred for a given language means that this is the term to be used in displays in that language. See also Partial translations below.
184.108.40.206.5.9.2. Languages for new concepts
For contributions of new concept records, the AAT requires that a record-preferred term, which is a descriptor in English, is submitted. Include literary warrant for the English term from English-language sources; do not simply submit a literal translation, if it can be avoided. In the example below, the Dutch terms were submitted in a new candidate record; English terms were included as required, and supported by warrant in published English-language sources.
• bread tokens (Record-Preferred) ( English-Preferred, Descriptor)
bread token (English, Alternate Descriptor)
tokens, bread (English, Used For)
broodpenningen (Dutch-Preferred, Descriptor)
broodpenning (Dutch, Alternate Descriptor)
If there is no English equivalent, or if the contributing project cannot verify an English equivalent, a proposed loan term or coined term should be submitted as the English descriptor. Submissions of English-language terms and scope notes are subject to editorial changes by the Getty Vocabulary Program.
For the contribution of terms in a language that is not written in the Roman alphabet (e.g., Greek or Chinese), if a loan term is submitted as a record-preferred term and the English descriptor, it should be transliterated into the Roman alphabet.
220.127.116.11.5.9.3. Non-standard languages
The AAT may include terms in all languages. Included are not only common and widely used modern languages, but also regional and tribal dialects, terms from original documents and historical sources, and other non-standard or extinct languages. Below is an example of Navajo and Hopi terms included in an AAT record.
• Ancestral Puebloan (Record-Preferred) ( Current)
Ancestral Pueblo (English, Used For)
Basketmaker-Pueblo (English, Used For)
Moki (Ancestral Puebloan) (English, Used For)
Moqui (Ancestral Puebloan) (English, Used For)
Hisatsinom (Hopi, Descriptor)
Oude Pueblo (Dutch-Pref, Descriptor)
Pueblo Ancestral (Spanish-Pref, Descriptor)
(English, Used For)
(Spanish, Used For)
18.104.22.168.5.9.4. List of languages
Language names for all Getty vocabularies are controlled by a section of the AAT, <languages and writing systems by specific type>. They are further explained in the data dictionaries and LOD documentation. Below is an example of a hierarchy display of languages in the AAT hierarchy. The language hierarchy in the AAT replaces earlier controlled lists of languages, formerly used to control language names for terms and scope notes in the Getty vocabularies.
<languages and writing systems by specific type>
.... Greek (language)
....... Ancient Greek (language)
....... Attic Greek (language)
....... Byzantine Greek (language)
....... Doric Greek (language)
....... Greek (modern language)
.......<Greek in transliteration>
........... Ancient Greek (transliterated) (Latin)
........... Greek (transliterated) (Latin)
....... Liturgical Greek (language)
....... Romano-Greek (language)
Below is an example of terms from an AAT full record for a language, along with sources for the terms. Codes and links to other standards for language designations are included, for use as controlled terminology in all Getty vocabularies.
Greek (modern language)............ Getty Vocabulary Language Lists (1989-) 70410
Greek, Modern............ Library of Congress: ISO 639.2 Codes for Languages (2013-)
el (Greek language)............ ISO 639-1: Alpha-2 Codes for Names of Languages (2013)
ell (Greek language)............ ISO 639-2: Alpha-3 Codes for Names of Languages (1998)
grec moderne ............ Library of Congress: ISO 639.2 Codes for Languages (2013-)
Neugriechisch............ Library of Congress: ISO 639.2 Codes for Languages (2013-)
22.214.171.124.5.9.5. Dialectical and regional differences
Dialectical and regional differences for descriptors in the target language should be accommodated. The AAT deals with this through language designation, by flagging the different descriptors as different variations on the language. For a full discussion, see Editorial Guidelines: Language of the terms.
The designation of language variations and dialects is illustrated by the long-standing practice of the AAT to include separate descriptors for American English and British English, where necessary. If there is no difference in spelling or form between American and British English, the term is flagged as English. If there is a difference in common usage or scholarly sources, the terms are labeled American English and British English respectively. Below are examples of rocking chairs, where American and British spelling is the same, and artists' colormen, where American and British English spelling differs.
• rocking chairs (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor)
rocking chair (English,Alternate Descriptor)
rockers (chairs) (English,Used For)
rocking-chairs (English,Used For)
• artists' colormen (Record-Preferred) (American English-Pref,Descriptor)
artists' colorman (American English,Alternate Descriptor)
artists' colourmen (British English-Pref,Descriptor)
artists' colourman (British English,Alternate Descriptor)
126.96.36.199.5.9.6. Variant transliterations and writing systems
A transliteration is the expression of letters or characters from one alphabet or writing system exchanged for those of another, to represent similar sounds in the second language.
Normally, transliterations are supplied by authorized translation projects. Occasionally terms that are transliterations or expressions in variant writing systems may be added by Getty Vocabulary Program editors or contributors of terminology outside the context of a translation project, provided the terms are found in published sources that are cited.
Only experts in transliteration should transliterate terms. If possible, use ISO standards for transliteration or romanization. Variant transliterations or variant expressions in pertinent writing systems should be included, if known. The romanization system should be referenced in the language designation, where applicable and if known.
In the example below, expert translators in the Chinese language have supplied the language variations and romanized variants for jades, 玉器. Note that there is a preference indicated for each language and romanization variation. (However, in this case the translation project has chosen to include only one descriptor for Chinese overall, for the sake of clarity.)
• jades (objects) (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref, Descriptor)
jade (object) (English, Alternate Descriptor)
玉器 (Chinese (traditional)-Pref, Descriptor)
yù qì (Chinese (transliterated Hanyu Pinyin)-Pref, Used For)
yu qi (C,U,Chinese (transliterated Pinyin without tones)-Pref, Used For)
yü ch'i (C,U,Chinese (transliterated Wade-Giles)-Pref, Used For)
In the example below, for the Greek transliterations, the Vocabulary Program editor has copied terms as found is published sources, using the warrant and information in the sources to designate language. The editor would not assume or guess about language information about which he or she is not expert, thus the language designations may be less specific than when an expert in transliteration provides the information. In all editorial work, editors must respect the sources; it is better to be general and correct, rather than risk being specific and incorrect.
• rhyta (Record-Preferred) ( English-Pref, Descriptor)
......(Greek (transliterated), Used For)
rhyton (English, Alternate Descriptor)
......(Greek (transliterated), Used For)
rytons (Dutch-Preferred, Descriptor)
......(Greek (transliterated), Used For)
ῥυτόν (Ancient Greek-Pref, Alternate Descriptor)
rhŭtón (Ancient Greek (transliterated)-Pref, Alternate Descriptor)
188.8.131.52.5.10. Partial translations
Unless a large translation project has undertaken a full translation in a given language, partial translations or intermittent examples of a given target language occur throughout the AAT. Even when large projects endeavor to translate the full AAT, at any point in time it is likely that certain concepts may lack a term in a given target language; the AAT grows daily with the addition of new terms from many sources, and there is an unavoidable lapse in time before the translation projects can provide a translated term for new additions.
184.108.40.206.5.10.1. Symmetrical and non-symmetrical thesauri
A symmetrical thesaurus is a multilingual thesaurus in which each concept has a preferred term in each language represented, and the scope of the thesaurus is the same in all languages.
A non-symmetrical thesaurus is a multilingual thesaurus in which the number of preferred terms in each language is not necessarily the same; for some thesauri, the ways in which preferred terms are related to one another may also differ in different languages.
While the AAT strives for a standard of exact equivalence for cross-language equivalences, there is not always a translation in every language for every English descriptor in the AAT. Thus, it is a combination symmetrical and non-symmetrical thesaurus, differing by language and changing over time. The AAT is a living resource that grows and becomes more complete based on ongoing contributions.
220.127.116.11.5.10.2. Target language contains a few gaps
If a partial translation represents a large or nearly complete set of terms in the target language, implementers may construct hierarchical and other displays in the target language by an algorithm that does the following: select term flagged preferred in the given target language; if none, default to the record-preferred term. At the time of this writing, ongoing or nearly full translations of the AAT exist in Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, and German. New translation projects are likely to be undertaken in the future.
18.104.22.168.5.10.3. Only a few terms in a given language
If there are only intermittent examples of terms translated into a given language in the AAT, the set of terms for any concept is important nonetheless for search and retrieval. In such cases, however, it is not advised to attempt displays using the intermittently represented language as preferred. At the time of this writing, there may be occasional terms in dozens of languages, including Greek, Latin, Liturgical Latin, Swedish, Polish, etc.
At the time of this writing, there are partial translations in French and in Italian, representing object types for around 3,000 concepts. Implementers may find this number of terms great enough to warrant display of the language-preferred term for either French or Italian in the Objects Facet. It is hoped that full translations of both languages, and others, will be undertaken in the future.
22.214.171.124.5.11. Mapping vs. translating
Although these guidelines primarily concern translations of the AAT, in any translation project a certain amount of mapping between source and target languages may be necessary. Mapping involves finding a match between two existing vocabularies, rather than a fresh translation of terms from a single existing source vocabulary.
In an AAT translation project, generally mapping will involve a subset of only dozens or a few hundred terms, if any.
The translating project may already have an existing set of terms in the target language that they wish to map back to the AAT. For example, a national project may wish to map all of the terms used in museums in their nation for work types to the equivalent terms in the master AAT. In effect, this activity involves mapping two existing vocabularies to each other, rather than translation.
126.96.36.199.5.11.1. Map only to exact equivalents
When mapping two existing vocabularies rather than making an original source-to-target translation, the temptation will be strong to find a match even where no exact match exists. Special care must be taken to avoid matches that are not exact equivalencies.
In such mappings, if there are terms in the target vocabulary that do not match any existing AAT concept, then new concept records should be contributed to the AAT. See the discussion for contributing to the master AAT above
188.8.131.52.5.11.2. Interoperability between existing vocabularies
If unique vocabularies have been developed independently using different languages, utilizing the two together as a multilingual controlled vocabulary is generally not effective without extensive human intervention in the mapping process. This is due to the problems and idiosyncrasies of translation and usage of terms in various languages, which are not resolved with the simple employment of an automated dictionary or data mining.
However, in AAT translations, mapping from the target language back to the source AAT is typically required for only a small portion of the translation. A full discussion of this type of mapping is outside the scope of the current guidelines; the processes are discussed in in ISO 25964-2:2013 and in Introduction to Controlled Vocabularies.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11. What is interoperability?
In the broader arena of using multiple vocabularies for discovery and retrieval, the ability of one vocabulary to be used with a second vocabulary is called interoperability. This is often done by enabling two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged. Vocabularies can support interoperability by including mappings to other vocabularies, by presenting data in standard formats, and by using systems that support common computer protocols.
Mapping vocabularies by automatic matching and algorithm can be a helpful preliminary step to building equivalents if the structures of the databases under consideration can be usefully linked. Caution should be exercised, however, because each machine-made link must be evaluated by a human editor to ensure that false matches have not been made.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124. Interoperability in LOD
In the linked open environment, it is hoped that the AAT will be linked to other vocabularies in this fashion. For example, the AAT is mapped to certain concepts in LCSH, which is available as linked open data.
Translating or mapping the AAT may involve microthesauri, which are controlled vocabularies that are limited in the range of topics covered, but fit within the domain of a larger, broader, or more generic controlled vocabulary. In the context of the AAT, a microthesaurus would typically contain highly specialized terms that map to the hierarchical structure of the AAT at a high-level node. Provided a microthesaurus is within scope of the AAT and its structure is compatible, it would be welcome as a hierarchical branch of the master AAT. Examples could include thesauri of Maya object types, terms for bookbinding, or terms for frames.
If the structure of the microthesaurus must be different from the AAT, then a concept-to-concept mapping could be done for the two thesauri. Provided they fall within scope, contributions of the concepts would be welcomed by the AAT; they would be incorporated within the hierarchical logic of the master AAT.
Providing Scope Notes
The AAT requires that every record have a scope note. Knowing the definition and scope of the term in a source language is necessary for efficient multilingual equivalency work.
126.96.36.199.1. What is a scope note?
A scope note is a free text field that describes both the meaning of the concept and how the terms representing the concept should be used within the context of the AAT. It may expand upon information indexed in other fields, such as associative relationships.
A scope note differs from a definition in a dictionary or glossary in that, rather than providing all the possible meanings for a word, it identifies a single concept and explains its particular meaning. For example, a dictionary entry for key could include a dozen different definitions including those for hardware to operate a lock, a short text explaining an image or text, or a part of a musical instrument. In the AAT, keys would appear multiple times, as keys (hardware), keys (texts), and keys (sound device components); each is found in its appropriate part of the AAT hierarchical structure. The parenthetical qualifiers of homographs in the AAT allow users to distinguish among them at a glance, but their scope notes further define them.
In the AAT, the scope note is repeatable. Each instance of the scope note has a language and contributor designation.
188.8.131.52.1.1. Sources for scope notes
For translations of the master AAT scope note, the translation project serves as warrant for the translation.
For contributions of scope notes for new concept records, at least one authoritative, published source is required. Multiple sources are highly recommended, to ensure that the meaning as defined in the scope note is agreed upon by multiple reliable sources.
See also Use authoritative sources below.
184.108.40.206.2. Translating the scope note
The task of translating the source-language scope note into the target language differs from determining equivalencies for terms, because different issues are involved when translating a text rather than a term. The guidelines in this section cover the primary issues regarding translations of the AAT scope notes.
220.127.116.11.2.1. Types of translation
Among the several common variations on theory and methodology for translating texts, there are three that are most relevant to translation of AAT scope notes: the literal translation, the free translation, and the pragmatic translation. Other types of translation methods that attempt to convey not only information, but also the style and aesthetic of the source-language text are not necessary for scope notes. For a full discussion on translating texts, see the several pertinent ISO standards, including ISO/TS 11669: 2012 Translation projects: General guidance.
18.104.22.168.2.1.1. Literal translation
In the context of these guidelines, a literal translation, also known as a direct translation, is in its purest form a word-for-word translation of a text from the source language to the target language. It may be used where the basic structure and syntax of the source language is the same as the target language. Literal translation is generally not recommended for AAT scope notes, because the result may be stiff, and may convey idioms, grammar, and even meaning incorrectly in the target-language text.
However, if the scope note deals with a scientific or technical topic, some variation of literal translation may be appropriate. In the discipline of translating, a literal translation is typically used for the translation of technical, scientific, and legal texts.
22.214.171.124.2.1.2. Free translation
In the context of these guidelines, a free translation is a translation that conveys the sense of the source-language text in the target language, emphasizing the content rather than order of words or the phrasing. Free translation is the recommended method of translating most scope notes. However, the translator must be careful not to distort the meaning of the original text; in a free translation, the target-language translation should ideally not contain additions, deletions, or modifications of the source-language text.
126.96.36.199.2.1.3. Pragmatic translation
In the context of these guidelines, a pragmatic translation is a translation that allows certain additions or explanations in order to convey the meaning efficiently to the readers of the target language. Pragmatic translation may be used for scope notes as necessary.
Pragmatic translation is particularly important where the culture and tradition of the target-language readers is different from those of the source-language readers. For example, if an English-language scope note were to say that a certain Native American style “is indigenous to the Four Corners region,” the phrase Four Corners region would require explanation to an audience unfamiliar with the names for regional geography of the United States (it is the geographic area where, on a map, the corners of the US states Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet). The translator should clarify what is intended so that it may be understood by the target-language audience, not always what is explicitly stated in the source-language scope note.
188.8.131.52.3. Creating a new scope note
When submitting new concepts to the AAT, the contributor should include a scope note in English. For translations, a scope note in the target language should be included too.
184.108.40.206.3.1. How to write a scope note
For full guidelines regarding the writing of scope notes, see Editorial Guidelines: Scope Notes. A brief discussion of major points is included below.
220.127.116.11.3.1.1. Point of view of descriptor
The scope note should be written from the point of view of the descriptor. Typically in the scope note, describe the concept with same part of speech as the descriptor. For example, if the descriptor is a plural noun, use plural nouns to describe it in the scope note. See the Examples of scope notes below.
18.104.22.168.3.1.2. Must apply to all synonyms
Write a note that outlines usage and meaning of the descriptor, but keeping in mind that the note must also be applicable to all other terms in the record. If the note does not apply to all synonyms in the record, correct the problem. Either a) the terms are not true synonyms and should be moved to separate concept records, or b) the scope note incorrectly describes the concept and should be revised.
22.214.171.124.3.1.3. Basic format and style
Observe the following basic rules of format and style.
Write the scope note using Unicode. Do not use special characters. Do not use formatting, such as line returns, indentations, bold, or italics. Rather than italics, use quotes to distinguish references to other terms or titles in the text.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Grammatical rules
Generally, use complete sentences or dictionary-style syntax.
• Follow grammatical rules for standard English composition; for scope notes in other languages, use standard rules for the language.
• Avoid abbreviations.
• Use parentheses sparingly (commas usually suffice to set apart a statement).
• Do not use dashes to set apart a phrase.
• Use BCE and CE for references to dates in the scope note; do not use BC and AD.
For further grammatical rules for English scope notes, see the Editorial Rules: Scope Notes.
The scope note should be brief and concise. It is intended to disambiguate, clarify usage, and touch upon the major relevant points of the concept; it is not a comprehensive encyclopedia entry. A minimum scope note may be one or two lines of text. As a general rule, do not write scope notes longer than 250 words (or 1500 characters with spaces).
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11. Simplicity and clarity
The scope note must be concise, clear, and include only essential information. Include only the most important and critical characteristics of the concept. State the differentiating characteristics precisely.
• Avoid “Use for …”
Do not begin the scope note with the phrase "Use for …"; this phrase was used in legacy AAT scope notes, but is awkward and confusing to many users. Instead, use "Refers to .. " or a noun.
• Avoid overly technical terminology
In the scope note, use relatively simple terminology that will be familiar to the end user. Keep in mind that most AAT users are specialists in art and architecture, and thus will understand some specialized terminology in these disciplines. However, if you must use a highly specialized term that is likely to be unknown to most users, define it in the scope note.
• Avoid negative statements
Use affirmative statements when possible. Generally state what the concept is rather than what it is not, except where necessary for clarity.
• Avoid circularity
Do not define the concept by using a closely related term. Instead, explain the meaning of the second term within the context of the scope note. For example, in the scope note for history painters, explain what history paintings are: “Artists who produce history paintings, which are multi-figure narrative scenes of real or legendary events”; not this: “Artists who produce history paintings.”
• Avoid tautology
Do not define the term by a mere repetition of the term itself or simply paraphrasing the term. For example, do not define colored paper as "paper that is colored”; instead explain “Non-white paper uniformly tinted with pigments or dye, usually during manufacture.”
18.104.22.168.3.1.4. Topics of the scope note
Describe the concept, including its particular or differentiating properties, qualities, uses, or origins. Use a concise, logical pattern that includes as much information as possible within a minimum amount of space.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Respect hierarchical placement
The scope note must agree with broader and narrower contexts. It must in no way contradict the stated or implied meaning of broader concepts. The scope note must describe the concept as a type of its broader concept, and by extension all the way up the hierarchy. If this cannot be done, then either the placement of the concept in the hierarchy is wrong or this scope note or the scope notes for the other terms should be adjusted.
If the concept has children, the scope note must be true for all children of the concept. Be sure that the scope note does not exclude any of the narrower concepts.
Meaning of broader term: The wording of the scope note must agree with the syntax and meaning of its broader context. Order the note to reflect the hierarchical placement. For example, if a term is located under a guide term < … by form>, begin the scope note by mentioning the form of the object, not its function. For example, for capstan tables, which are under <tables by form>: “Tables with a circular top that expands on an iron frame to allow eight extra leaves to be inserted. […]”.
Multiple parents: If the term has multiple parents, compose a note that will work with the concept's alternate hierarchical positions as well.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Scope neither too general nor too specific
The scope note should explain characteristics that differentiate the concept from other concepts. For example, for the concept lolly chairs, a scope note stating that they are simply “a type of armchair” does not distinguish them from other armchairs.
At the same time, do not create an overly specific description in the scope note that does not apply universally to all examples of this concept. Do not describe one particular example of a concept. Survey all possibilities, and write a scope note general enough to include them all. For example, even though you are only familiar with examples in a Christian context, the concept devotional images should not be assumed to refer to only Christian images.
Give an explanation of how the object or other concept is used. Do not restrict the scope by being overly specific. For example, for the concept fixative: “A substance used to increase the durability or stability of another substance, such as pigment on paper or dye in textiles,” expressing “such as” rather than limiting the use to two examples; not this: “A substance used to increase the durability or stability of pigment on paper or dye in textiles.”
Describe the primary characteristics of the concept (It is characterized by …). Do not be overly specific, for example use words such as “often” or “typically” to avoid inappropriate limitations. For example, for Baroque: “Refers to the style and period of architecture, visual art, decorative art, music, and literature of western Europe and the Americas from about 1590 to 1750. The style is characterized by balance and wholeness, often with an emphasis on spectacle and emotional content, and a tendency toward contrasts of light against dark, mass against void, and the use of strong diagonals and curves.”
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Origin of the concept
Refer to the place and date of origin of the material, object, style, process, etc., if relevant (It was first used…, It originated in …). For example, trailings (glass): “Refers to threads of glass that are applied as a decoration, generally on the body, foot, or handle of a vessel. […] Trailings were first seen in ancient Roman glass, and were also popular in medieval and later glass. […]."
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Origin of the term
The scope note may occasionally refer to the etymological origin of the terms in the concept record, if it is particularly significant. If the information does not apply to all of the terms in the record, it is more appropriately attached to the term for which it is relevant, rather than discussed in a scope note: In such cases, add this information as a note in the display date field linked to the term. You will be required to also enter a start date and end date, which are used only in retrieval, not for end-user displays. The display date note itself need not make specific reference to a date.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Chronological and geographic delimiters
Include chronological or geographic delimiters, if significant. Do not be overly specific or imply overly narrow limits of place or time span (e.g., commonly used in northern Europe… ; popular during the 18th century…).
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Appearance and materials
Describe the appearance or composition of the object, if significant (e.g., color, size, shape, material (It consists of…, Its main components are…, It is made of…, It comprises …). Do not incorrectly limit the description too narrowly. For example, for acroliths: “Ancient Greek sculptures in which the extremities are made of stone and the torso is made of another material, usually wood."
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Constituent types
Only where appropriate, name the concept's various types, subdivisions, or categories. This will rarely be necessary, given that the types should typically be listed as children of the concept and should not be repeated here. If you do list types in the note, be certain to list the same subdivisions as are listed as the hierarchical children of the concept (There are three types of [term]…, It is divided into three parts …, It comprises …).
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. When a term has multiple usages
Care must be taken when a term has multiple usages.
Separate concepts: In writing the scope note, do not include usages or meanings that more properly describe separate concepts. In such situations, make a separate record. If the usages and meanings are described in separate definitions for the term in a dictionary, you probably are dealing with homographs, not the same concept. In most cases, if the need exists to express “also used for…” or “also means…,” there should probably be two records with separate descriptors and separate scope notes.
Same concept: If there are variations in meaning for a term and the term is correctly a single concept, describe the usages in the scope note. For example, for chronometers: “Certain types of precision time pieces. Originally referred to strongly built precision timekeeping devices especially designed for use on ships; now also used for extremely accurate wrist watches or pocket watches.”
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. General vs. specific
Each AAT record should represent one and only one unique concept. If a term has both a general and a specific meaning, either a) describe the specific meaning as an example of the concept in the scope note, or b) make a separate record for the homograph. For distinction of general and specific, it is strongly preferred to adopt solution a) rather than making a separate record for a homograph, unless absolutely necessary.
In legacy AAT data, scope notes were sometimes written to account for both general and specific usages of a term. This practice was not ideal even then, but feasible when the AAT was monolingual. However, now that the AAT is multilingual, avoid writing "general vs. specific" scope notes. This is critical because scoping a term with such a wide range of meaning creates problems when translating into another language, where there may be separate terms for the general and specific meanings.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199. Variations in usage of used-for terms
If there are variations in the usage of used-for terms, and thus you find yourself tempted to explain the differences in the scope note, in most cases the used-for term should be a descriptor in a separate concept record.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Currency of the information
Keep in mind that the scope note may not be updated for years, so do not write about volatile situations, such as political situations that may change. Instead, situations recorded in the scope note should be relatively stable and long-standing.
220.127.116.11.3.1.5. Use authoritative sources
All information in the scope note must be derived from an authoritative source. Cite the source and page number or other reference.
Do not plagiarize. Paraphrase the information discussed in the source or sources. Do not copy source material verbatim.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124. Literary sources
If certain information in the note ultimately comes from a literary or mythological source, as opposed to a modern authoritative source, avoid stating it as if it were a proven fact (e.g., references from the Bible, legends, etc.). At the same time, refer to religious texts in a neutral and respectful tone.
126.96.36.199.3.1.6. Spelling of AAT, ULAN, and TGN terms
If you refer to another AAT term in the scope note, use the descriptor or alternate descriptor of that term. If you use a TGN name, use the TGN-preferred English name for the place. If you use a ULAN name, use the ULAN-preferred name for the person or corporate body.
188.8.131.52.3.1.7. Be objective
Avoid bias or critical judgment. Express all information in a neutral tone. Do not write from a subjective or biased point of view, neither positive nor negative, even if your source expresses a fact in a subjective way.
Do not express biased views about rulers, other people, cultures, art, architecture, or events. That is, do not expres1s views that are subjectively negative; likewise, do not express positive information in a subjective way. Instead, state views that are held by the scholarly or professional community in an objective way.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11. Controversial subjects
When referring to a disputed or controversial matter, remain perfectly neutral, giving equal emphasis to both points of view.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124. Religious and cultural biases
Avoid using language that expresses biased views about religion or religious groups. Do not state or imply negative or Western-centric views about native peoples or their cultures.
Avoid using terminology that may be considered offensive by groups of people. For example, when speaking of the indigenous populations of the Americas in the scope note, do not use the term Indian, which is incorrect; instead use the name of the tribes, if known. Alternatively, use the general terms Native American, Amerindian, or First Nations, as appropriate.
126.96.36.199.3.1.8. Uncertainty and ambiguity
Explain any controversies or ambiguous issues. If an issue is in dispute, be careful not to express it as a certain fact.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206. Knowable vs. unknowable information
Do not express information that is not included in authoritative sources. Do not express information based upon your own opinion or observations.
On the other hand, take care not to imply that a fact is unknown simply because you happen not to know it (generally because time and editorial priorities do not allow you to do the research required to resolve the issue). Write from the sources’ point of view. If a fact is knowable, but just not known by you, omit it entirely rather than stating it with qualifying phrases such as probably, because using probably implies that the sources have stated it thus.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168. Disagreement among sources
Know the level of currency and reliability of your sources. When two sources disagree, prefer the information obtained from the most scholarly, authoritative, recent source.
22.214.171.124.3.1.9. Indexing important information
The scope note is not an access point for retrieval. Therefore, if you mention a variant term, a date for usage of a term, or other important information in the scope note, index it in the appropriate fields elsewhere in the AAT record; for example add a variant term as a used-for term, or add the date of usage in the date fields for the descriptor.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Make associative relationships
If another AAT concept is mentioned in the scope note, it should be linked through associative relationships. For example, if a scope note for the material papyrus mentions that is made from the fiber of the papyrus plant, use associative relationships to link the record for the material to the record for the papyrus plant: derived/made from Cyperus papyrus (species).
In addition to making the associative relationship, if another concept is referred to in the scope note, include a reciprocal reference in the scope note for the corresponding concept.
184.108.40.206.4. Display date notes
In addition to using the scope note, you may also use the display dates for terms, hierarchical relationships, and associative relationships to briefly express information or uncertainty. In fact, if the information is directly related to one of these other fields, it should be recorded in the display date, and repeated in the scope note, if necessary.
Note that, although it is called display date, the field is a free text note that may refer to topics other than date. However, it must be indexed with start date and end date. For guidance on display dates and the start and end dates, see the Editorial Manual: Dates. Below are examples of display dates used as notes. In the second example, the information is placed with the term rather than the scope note, because it does not apply to all used-for terms in the record; start and end dates are broadly estimated for usage of the term, even though dates are not referenced in the note.
dinoi (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun,Loan Term)
Display Date: in modern usage with this meaning, from 19th century
Start Date: 1800 End Date: 9999
slipper chairs (Record-Preferred) (English-Pref,Descriptor,Plural Noun)
Display Date: so-named because their low seat allows one to easily take on and off slippers or other shoes
Start Date: 1700 End Date: 9999
Caveat: There is only one display date per term. Therefore, if a term has multiple languages, the issue should probably be omitted or included in the scope note, rather than in only one language in the display date.
220.127.116.11.5. Examples of scope notes
Below are examples of scope notes in English.
• papyrus (material)
Scope Note: A writing material prepared from thin strips of the pith of the papyrus plant laid together, soaked, pressed, and dried.
• lolling chairs
Scope Note: Open-arm chairs with upholstered seats and backs, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries in North America. Seats are generally low and shallow, and the backs are high and often have serpentine cresting.
Scope Note: Vessels from Ancient Greece, eastern Europe, or the Middle East that were typically made as a closed form with two openings, one at the top for filling and one at the base so that liquid could stream out. They are often in the shape of a horn or an animal's head, and were typically used as a drinking cup or for pouring wine into another vessel. Drinking was done by holding the rhyton above the drinker's head and catching the stream of liquid in the mouth.
• pedestal plates
Scope Note: Large, usually round, flat plates or shallow bowls positioned on top of a pedestal or high base to elevate and display food. The pedestal may be attached in one piece with the plate, or the plate and pedestal may form separate pieces. A common example is an elevated cake stand or shallow bowl for fruit, or in other serving vessels in Western and Asian ceramics and metalware. Another example is a ceramic funerary object in Pre-Columbian art.
Scope Note: Roofed passages connecting two parts of a house or a house and garage; common after 1930. Distinct from "dogtrots," which occur in folk architecture and log houses.
• Mannerist (Renaissance-Baroque style)
Scope Note: Refers to a style and a period in evidence approximately from the 1520s to 1590, developing chiefly in Rome and spreading elsewhere in Europe. The style is characterized by a distancing from the Classical ideal of the Renaissance to create a sense of fantasy, experimentation with color and materials, and a new human form of elongated, pallid, exaggerated elegance.
• marine glue
Scope Note: Glue insoluble in water, made from rubber or resin solution, or both.
• Lepisma saccharina (species)
Scope Note: Species of slender, flat, wingless insect with three tail bristles and covered with silvery scales. It normally lives indoors, eating materials containing high percentages of starch, including paste, bookbindings, and wallpaper, causing damage to books and fabrics.
Scope Note: Planographic printing process in which a design is deposited on the stone or plate with a greasy substance and the surface is chemically treated to accept ink only in the greasy areas
• color shift
Scope Note: Change in color brought about either by differential fade rates of dyes or by an imbalance of dyes in an image area.
Scope Note: The process or technique of welding together particles or particulate material, usually metal or ceramic, by applying heat below the melting point, so that the particles coalesce into a solid mass without liquefaction. It is typically used to create or decorate ceramics or metalwork, or to improve the mechanical or physical properties of metal.
Scope Note: Appreciation or criticism of the beautiful. The term refers to a branch of Western philosophy concerned primarily with the fine arts, although it may also be used in the context of the appreciation of natural beauty. Usage of the term dates from the 18th century, although historical discussions regarding issues now called "aesthetics" date from Antiquity.
Scope Note: Craftsmen who practice the art of reparure, which is the process of carving away and shaping the layered gesso covering the carved ornament on a wooden picture frame.
Scope Note: Used by modern scholars to refer to ancient Greek large, round-bottomed bowls that curve into a wide, open mouth, and that often stood on a stand. Metal vessels of this shape were probably used for cooking and those made of terracotta were used for mixing wine and date from the mid-seventh through the late fifth centuries BCE. They are distinguished from "lebetes" by their larger size. Ancient literary evidence suggests that the term was originally applied to drinking cups rather than bowls, and that such bowls were at that time called "lebetes."
18.104.22.168.6. Changes to scope notes
If a contributor provides a scope note in English, the Getty Vocabulary Program may edit it in order to comply with style and content of the AAT English scope notes.
In addition, existing English scope notes in the master AAT are subject to change over time; for a translation project, this may require changes to the translated scope note. The primary reason for changes is to correct legacy data, where the scope note included non-synonymous concepts or was scoped too narrowly.
Significant changes to scope notes, terms, and other data in existing AAT records are designated in the revision history. For a discussion of managing changes to the AAT, see Feedback above.
Translating projects and other contributors are encouraged to provide persistent links to images for translated or new AAT concepts. Whereas the terms, the hierarchical context, and the scope notes all help to identify the term conceptually, an illustration of the concept is helpful or even critical to absolutely disambiguate the concepts in translation work. Links to images are also helpful for the end user, thus included in the published AAT data.
Ongoing Issue Resolutions
Editorial and content issues in the ever-growing AAT arise daily, and are reflected in online documentation. Updated guidelines regarding translations and discussion of issues are available online in Editorial Guidelines: Translating terms. Translation projects may participate in an online, interactive discussion forum. For access to the forum, for discussions regarding beginning a new translation project, or for other questions about the AAT or other Getty vocabularies, contact the Getty Vocabulary Program at email@example.com
Last updated 23 August 2023 by Patricia Harpring
Document is subject to frequent revisions