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 ETB Thesaurus: Legenda

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All the terms in the ETB Thesaurus are connected to each other in a network of semantic relationships, which are the standard relationships of a multilingual thesaurus. Read a detailed description here.

As allowed by the ISO standards, different displays of the descriptors have been provided.



a) The intra-language equivalence (USE-UF)

Antiquities USE ancient history
ancient history UF Antiquities

  • Non-descriptors facilitates the access to documents that were indexed by the documentalist differently from what the end-user may think.
    • They are made recognisable by their different characters, italic in our case
      (may vary in number from one linguistic version to another)
    • A rather high rate of non descriptors is planned to facilitate the end user and
      automatic or semi-automatic mapping of indexing and searching that use free natural language.
    • This is a mutual and asymmetric relationship that is:
      If A is a non-descriptors for B, B is the preferred term for A.
      Note: One descriptor may have as many non-descriptors as desired.
      Different language versions of the ETB thesaurus can have a different number of non-descriptors, according to their cultural differences and needs.

b) The inter-language equivalence

  • Relationship between the different language versions of each descriptor in a multilingual thesaurus.
  • Is introduced by an abbreviation related to the concerned language:
  • Example:

    education for sustainable development

    De: Ausbildung zur nachhaltigen Entwicklung
    Es: educación para el desarrollo sostenible
    Fr: éducation au développement durable
    It: educazione allo sviluppo sostenibile

c) The hierarchical BT/NT relationship

  • A mutual and asymmetric relationship.
  • Exponent 1 (or 2,3,n) to NT means the level of the NT in the hierarchical chain
  • Example:
    NT1 ancient history ('ancient history is a species of 'history')

    ancient history
    BT1 history

    for example:
    NT1 Italy (Italy is a part of Europe)
    NT1 Spain

    (instance relationship)
    such as:
    pedagogical theory
    NT1 Montessori theory (The Montessori theory is an example of pedagogical theory)

d) The RT relationship

  • A relationship between terms which are not members of an equivalence set,
    neither are subordinated or superordinated to another,
    but are mentally associated to such an extent that it's useful to make the link between them explicit
  • The RT relation is a not-hierarchical, mutual and symmetric relationship,
    that is: If A is a RT of B, then B is a RT of A.
  • Example:
    RT learning psychology

    As one can notice, learning psychology is not a concept member or part of the class of concepts learning (like cooperative learning is, for instance) but is someway associated to learning, so that it's useful to make a link between them.


Classical self-sufficient display of a thesaurus, carrying the whole information on all the thesaural relationships.

  • Descriptor entry in the alphabetical display (all the relationships are there; without SN):
  • Example: German version

descriptor (preferred term)
MT (60.) Address Code of the Microthesaurus in which the term is included (inclusion relationship)
En: vocational training
Es: iniciación profesional
Fr: initiation à la profession
It: formazione pre-professionale
Equivalent terms in other languages (inter-language equivalence)
UF Berufsbildung

Non- preferred synonym (intra-language equivalence)
BT Erziehung und Bildung First level broader term
(only a level of BT and NT is taken into
account in the alphabetical display)
NT duale Ausbildung
NT Personalausbildung
first level narrower term
RT Übergang in die Arbeitswelt related term = associative relationship


  • Another descriptor entry in the alphabetical display
    (the term is provided with a scope note):
extracurriculare Aktivitäten
MT (30.) (70.70)
En: extracurricular activities
Es: actividades fuera de programa
Fr: activités hors programme
It: attività extracurriculari
SN: Von der Schule initiierte und organisierte kulturelle,
sozio-kulturelle und Freizeitaktivitäten, bei denen eine
Teilnahme weder Pflicht ist noch in die Bewertung der
schulischen Leistungen eines Schülers einfließen.
BT schulische Aktivitäten
NT Aktivitäten in der freien Natur
NT Auslandsaufenthalt
NT soziokulturelle Aktivitäten
NT Studienreise
scope note: it indicates the sense in which the term is used for indexing purposes

  • A non-descriptor entry in the alphabetical display:
biologische Naturwissenschaften non-descriptor
(non-preferred term, not to be used for indexing)
USE Lebenswissenschaften descriptor which is the preferred term


The descriptors are displayed in alphabetical order as many times as meaningful words are present in a compound term.

  • Example:
    creative activities  
    extracurricular activities  
    hands-on activities  
    leisure activities  
    leisure time activities USE leisure activities
    outdoor activities  
    school activities  

  • These words are in turn taken into account, always keeping their context (KWIC list).
  • The descriptor 'creative activities', for instance, is displayed twice, once under 'activities', once under 'creative'. Words such as prepositions - of, in, for - are not taken into consideration (stop-words).


Systematic display allows a general view of descriptors classified in meaningful conceptual sub-groups, so-called Microthesauri (= MT).

  • Terms have been grouped in the so-called Microthesauri (= MT), that is sections/facets of the conceptual field identifying the scope of the thesaurus.
  • Allows a general view of descriptors classified in meaningful conceptual sub-groups.
  • Each MT includes a number of sub-groups,
    • Each sub-group has a top term meaning that it hasn't a broader term and
    • a whole display of its NTs at different levels of 'depth' (NT1, NT2, NT3, etc.) and RTs.
    • Both abbreviations and the indentation give information about the levels.
    • Not all the top terms lead sub-groups of a microthesaurus
      (only the most meaningful and important ones).
    • Several of them (together with their own relationships) can be inserted in a sub-group leaded by another top term just as RTs.
    • External RTs (that means pertaining to another micro-thesaurus) are signalled with the code of the other micro-thesaurus within ()brackets.
    • Some descriptors can have more than one BT (polyhierarchy).
    • The symbol used in the systematic display to indicate the polyhierarchy is <->, followed by the code of the MT if the other BT pertains to another thesaurus.
    • Examples:

Microthesaurus 10.
Numbering of microthesauri proceeds according to a decimal approach in order to make the structure hospitable for a possible future expansion/updating
'sub-group' in this micro-thesaurus:
life cycle
top term
. . NT1 adolescence
. . . . RT adolescent RT of the NT1
. . . . RT puberty
all the NT1s are NTs (first level) of the top term
. . NT1 adulthood
. . . . RT adult
. . NT1 birth
. . NT1 childhood
. . . . NT2 early childhood
. . . . RT child
first level NT of the NT1, second level NT of the top term
. . NT1 death
. . NT1 old age
. . . . RT elderly person
. . NT1 youth
. . . . RT youth group (110)
(external RT: the number expresses the code
of the MT to which the descriptor pertains)


100. CULTURE  
. . NT1 folk culture
. . . . RT folk song (70.80)
. . RT celebration (40.)
. . . . RT holidays (40.)
. . RT cultural change
. . RT cultural exchange (110.)
. . RT cultural heritage
. . RT cultural identity
. . RT cultural integration (110.)
. . . . RT racism (70.90)
. . RT cultural model
. . . . RT fashion
. . . . . . RT fashion design (70.80)
. . . . RT model (10.)
. . RT cultural pluralism
. . RT festival
. . RT multicultural advisor
. . . . RT intercultural education (70.70)
. . RT rite
. . . . NT1 initiation rite <->(110.)
. . . . RT ethnology (70.30)
(the term 'initiation rite' is also NT of 'social integration' in the MT 110)


Author: Marisa Trigari
Web Editor: Riina Vuorikari
Published: Thursday, 2 Aug 2001
Last changed: Tuesday, 5 Mar 2002
Keywords: etb, interoperability, standardisation, thesaurus, relations, legenda, multilinguality

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