Semantic Decomposition of Character Encodings for Linguistic Knowledge Discovery

  • Dafydd Gibbon
  • Baden Hughes
  • Thorsten Trippel
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Classification, Data Analysis, and Knowledge Organization book series (STUDIES CLASS)


Analysis and knowledge representation of linguistic objects tends to focus on larger units (e.g. words) than print medium characters. We analyse characters as linguistic objects in their own right, with meaning, structure and form. Characters have meaning (the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet denote phonetic categories, the character represented by the glyph ‘∪’ denotes set union), structure (they are composed of stems and parts such as descenders or diacritics or are ligatures), and form (they have a mapping to visual glyphs). Character encoding initatives such as Unicode tend to concentrate on the structure and form of characters and ignore their meaning in the sense discussed here. We suggest that our approach of including semantic decomposition and defining font-based namespaces for semantic character domains provides a long-term perspective of interoperability and tractability with regard to data-mining over characters by integrating information about characters into a coherent semiotically-based ontology. We demonstrate these principles in a case study of the International Phonetic Alphabet.


Semantic Domain Phonetic Category Ontological Approach Sound Type English Alphabet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. DAVIS, M and SCHERER, M. (2004): Character Mapping Markup Language (CharMapML). Unicode Technical Report #22, Unicode Consortium. Scholar
  2. DÜRST, M., YERGEAU, F., ISHIDA, R., WOLF, M. and TEXIN, T. (2005): Character M odel for the World Wide Web 1.0: Fundamentals. World Wide Web Consortium. Scholar
  3. ESLING, J. H. and GAYLORD, H. 1993. Computer Codes for Phonetic Symbols. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23(2), pp. 83–97.Google Scholar
  4. GIBBON, D., BOW, C., BIRD, S. and HUGHES, B. (2004): Securing Interpretability: The Case of Ega Language Documentation. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, Lisbon, 2004. Euopean Language Resources Association: Paris. pp 1369–1372.Google Scholar
  5. GIBBON, D., MERTINS, I., MOORE, R. (2000): Handbook of Multimodal and Spoken Language Systems: Resources, Terminology and Product Evaluation. New York etc.: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. HIMMELMANN, N. P. (1998): Documentary and descriptive linguistics. Linguistics 36, pp.161–195.Google Scholar
  7. INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ASSOCATION (1999): Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Scholar
  8. PULLUM, G. K. and LADUSAW, W. A. (1986): Phonetic Symbol Guide. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.Google Scholar
  9. UNICODE CONSORTIUM, (2003): The Unicode Standard, Version 4.0, Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, 2003. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Berlin · Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dafydd Gibbon
    • 1
  • Baden Hughes
    • 2
  • Thorsten Trippel
    • 1
  1. 1.Fakultät für Linguistik und LiteraturwissenschaftUniversität BielefeldBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.Department of Computer Science and Software EngineeringUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations