Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2010
This paper presents a novel approach to ontology localization with the objective of obtaining multilingual ontologies. Within the ontology development process, ontology localization has been defined as the activity of adapting an ontology to a concrete linguistic and cultural community. Depending on the ontology layers – terminological and/or conceptual – involved in the ontology localization activity, three heterogeneous multilingual ontology metamodels have been identified, of which we propose one of them. Our proposal consists in associating the ontology metamodel to an external model for representing and structuring lexical and terminological data in different natural languages. Our model has been called Linguistic Information Repository (LIR). The main advantages of this modelling modality rely on its flexibility by allowing (1) the enrichment of any ontology element with as much linguistic information as needed by the final application, and (2) the establishment of links among linguistic elements within and across different natural languages. The LIR model has been designed as an ontology of linguistic elements and is currently available in Web Ontology Language (OWL). The set of lexical and terminological data that it provides to ontology elements enables the localization of any ontology to a certain linguistic and cultural universe. The LIR has been evaluated against the multilingual requirements of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the framework of the NeOn project. It has proven to solve multilingual representation problems related to the establishment of well-defined relations among lexicalizations within and across languages, as well as conceptualization mismatches among different languages. Finally, we present an extension to the Ontology Metadata Vocabulary, the so-called LexOMV, with the aim of reporting on multilinguality at the ontology metadata level. By adding this contribution to the LIR model, we account for multilinguality at the three levels of an ontology: data level, knowledge representation level and metadata level.