This document describes our choice of ontology, which is the vocabulary of concepts used in machine representation of natural language. Just using words in the natural language is an inadequate ontology because ordinary words have many different senses in different contexts -- and sometimes different senses in the same context (which leads to ambiguous meaning). Humans can make sense out of these different meanings (or laugh at the joke implied when multiple senses are intended), but computers are not so smart.
The BibleTrans translation engine is ontology-agnostic; the concepts
are just numbers and it does not care what the numbers mean, nor how they
are organized. It just needs a set of translation rules, one for each concept,
how to generate text for that concept. Humans need to write these rules,
so it helps if the ontology is as simple as possible, but no simpler. The
problem is getting an ontology that is robust, complete, and consistent.
The American Bible Society has granted permission to distribute an electronic copy of L&N with BibleTrans. There is a small royalty associated with the distribution, so we need to keep records of who gets it.
However the L&N lexicon is just that, a lexicon, a word book. Every
one of those 6,975 lexical concepts is tied to specific Greek words in
the text. Other parts of the meaning of the text are conveyed in verb tense
and mood, noun case and number, and sometimes just by word order. A lexicon
is not much help for encoding these parts of the meaning.