Here's my "usual" reply to the idea of adding a data element to identify
the language of each field.

There are fields, like the author's name, which do not render themselves
easily to the "language" concept.

   Carlos Weintraub
   Marie O'Reilly

Which is ok because you can just skip the language data element for proper
names. There are also many titles that are not clearly in a single
language, or that at least would be hard to identify:

Title:         Ciao, bella, ciao : roman

Chacon, Jorge.
       John F. Kennedy.  [Quito, Ecuador, "La Prensa catolica", 1964.]

  Dollen, Charles.
       John F. Kennedy.  [Boston, St. Paul Editions 1965]

Which doesn't mean that a field-by-field statement of the language is not
useful, it's just that it may have to be applied selectively. It's much
easier to attribute language to the elements of metadata that are provided
by the cataloger rather than taken from the item itself, and it is vital to
attribute language to elements like subject descriptors.

So I think the question becomes whether we need a field-level language
indicator, or if Donna Dinberg's "language of cataloging" serves enough of
our needs.


Karen Coyle           [log in to unmask]