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Note: Please, excuse me for this long email. It should be read in HTML mode (i use colors, styles...)

 
You could find below an real example from the OpenArchive server of the American Memory. (http://memory.loc.gov)

This a map of the Canada/Louisiana created in 1674 by Louis Joliet.

There is 2 titles, the original in french, and an alternative in english.
Notes, subject and medium are in english.
There is also the element <language> with the value "fre".
So i guess that the language of this map is french, but nothing to tell the language of the metadata.

I looked carrefully at MODS schema Version 1.2 (June 13), an i found an "xml:lang" attribute for the following elements :
but nothing for the followings elements :
 
So i think that the "xml:lang" attribute should be added in a near future to theses elements.

But why an element mods/language with a "restriction" different than the attribute xml:lang ?
May be it's more simple to use the same definition for the language of the document and for the language of some metadata (notes, abtract...).
Yves Pratter


Extract of the document where there lang attributes could be used (long form):

<mods>
    <titleInfo>
       
<title xml:lang="fr">Nouvelle découverte de plusieurs nations dans la Nouvelle France en l'année 1673 et 1674</title>
    </titleInfo>
    <titleInfo type="alternative">
        <title xml:lang="en">Joliet's map, 1674.</title>
    </titleInfo>

 
    <!-- snip -->

    <language authority="iso639-2b">fre</language>

    <physicalDescription>
        <extent xml:lang="en">1 map : col. ; 40 x 52 cm.</extent>
    </physicalDescription>

   
<note xml:lang="en">From the Jesuit Relations, vol. 59, p. facing 86.</note>
    <note xml:lang="en">8 x 10 film negative available in G&amp;M Reading Room.</note>
    <note xml:lang="en">Part of the Missisippi River exhibit.</note>
    <note xml:lang="en">Facsimile.</note>
    <note xml:lang="en">Original version: [S.l. : s.n., 1674]</note>
    <note xml:lang="en">Available also through the Library of Congress web site as a raster image.</note>

    <!-- scale element is in english or this is a bug of conversion from MARC to MODS ? -->
    <cartographics>
        <scale>Scale [ca. 9,000,000].</scale>
    </cartographics>

    <subject authority="lcsh">
        <geographic xml:lang="en">North America</geographic>
        <topic xml:lang="en">Maps</topic>
        <topic xml:lang="en">Early works to 1800</topic>
        <topic xml:lang="en">Facsimiles</topic>
    </subject>
 
    <!-- snip -->

    <subject>
        <hierarchicalGeographic>
            <country xml:lang="en">North America.</country>
        </hierarchicalGeographic>
    </subject>

    <!-- snip -->

</mods>
 


Extract of the document where there lang attributes could be used (shorter form):

<!-- The lang attribute is added to the mods elements to tell that all the metadata are in english, excep some few -->
<mods xml:lang="en">
    <titleInfo>
       
<title xml:lang="fr">Nouvelle découverte de plusieurs nations dans la Nouvelle France en l'année 1673 et 1674</title>
    </titleInfo>
    <titleInfo type="alternative">
        <titleJoliet's map, 1674.</title>
    </titleInfo>

 
    <!-- snip -->

    <!-- proposal to use the same definition for the language (attribute) as other elements
    <language authority="iso639-2b">fre</language>
    -->
    <documentLanguage xml:lang="fr"/>

    <physicalDescription>
        <extent>1 map : col. ; 40 x 52 cm.</extent>
    </physicalDescription>

   
<note>From the Jesuit Relations, vol. 59, p. facing 86.</note>
    <note>8 x 10 film negative available in G&amp;M Reading Room.</note>
    <note>Part of the Missisippi River exhibit.</note>
    <note>Facsimile.</note>
    <note>Original version: [S.l. : s.n., 1674]</note>
    <note>Available also through the Library of Congress web site as a raster image.</note>

    <!-- scale element is in english or this is a bug of conversion from MARC to MODS ? -->
    <cartographics>
        <scale>Scale [ca. 9,000,000].</scale>
    </cartographics>

    <subject authority="lcsh">
        <geographic>North America</geographic>
        <topic>Maps</topic>
        <topic>Early works to 1800</topic>
        <topic>Facsimiles</topic>
    </subject>
 
    <!-- snip -->

    <subject>
        <hierarchicalGeographic>
            <country>North America.</country>
        </hierarchicalGeographic>
    </subject>

    <!-- snip -->

</mods>


References :

HTML version : http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3300.ct000655
OAI/MODS     : http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/oai2_0?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=mods&identifier=oai%3Alcoa1.loc.gov%3Aloc.gmd%2Fg3300.ct000655
 


PS:

May be there is a mistake in theses elements (bug of parsing from MARC to MODS conversion) ?
 
<publicationInfo>
    <place>[S.l</place>
    <dateIssued>1896-1901]</dateIssued>
</publicationInfo>