In 2008 ISO published the Lexical Markup Framework (LMF; ISO 24613:2008) which provides an object model (specified in UML) for lexica. The object model is a series of extensions of a LMF core model. When a user wants to design a LMF compliant lexicon she needs to select not only the needed extensions, i.e., objects and their associations, but also data categories from the ISOcat Data Category Registry (DCR) to adorn these objects with, in general linguistic, features. In the informative Annex R a DTD is given to serialize the full LMF object model to XML. However, this DTD has various shortcomings:

  • the links from features to the ISOcat DCR are underspecified
  • alternative feature structure representations, e.g., TEI/ISO feature structures and feature system declarations, are not supported
  • there is no way to select the LMF extensions needed by the lexicon by default the schema contains all of them
  • there is no way to add lexicon-specific extensions
  • not all UML constructions and constraints can be supported by a DTD and as a result the schema is more lax then the standards UML model

The RELISH LMF schema overcomes these problems by adopting two more modern XML schema languages: Relax NG (ISO/IEC 19757-2:2008) and Schematron (ISO/IEC 19757-3:2006). Also various recommended W3C XML vocabularies are supported, e.g., @xml:id and @xml:lang.

This page describes the usage of the RELISH LMF schema, but also some of the design decisions. See also the revision history of RELISH LMF.

Any feedback is highly appreciated!


To build a RELISH LMF schema for a lexicon the following template has to be filled out:


  <!-- 0. always -->
  <include href="path-to-relish-lmf/RELISH-LMF-common.rng"/>
  <include href="path-to-relish-lmf/RELISH-LMF-core.rng"/>

  <!-- 1. choose a feature structure representation -->

  <!-- 2. optionally: select LMF extensions -->

  <!-- 3. optionally: add your own extensions -->


Download the files you need using the links provided below and replace in the template the path-to-relish-lmf by the path to these files. There is also an archive containing all the files.

Two Relax NG modules are always needed:

Two feature structure serializations are provided:

In the template one of them needs to be chosen:

<!-- 1. choose fs -->
<include href="path-to-relish-lmf/RELISH-LMF-fs-lmf.rng"/>

All the LMF extensions have been implemented as Relax NG modules:

Pick the modules you need and add them to the schema:

<!-- 2. optionally: select LMF extensions -->
<include href="path-to-relish-lmf/RELISH-LMF-morphology.rng"/>

Notice that some extensions depend on each other. See comments in the top of the Relax NG modules or Figure 2 in the LMF standard.

Due to the use feature structures LMF is already easily extensible. However, sometimes extensions of the object model are needed. Your own extensions can be declared in Relax NG (there is a good online book by Eric van der Vlist) and added to the lexicon schema. To make your extensions explicit new elements or attributes should use your or their own XML namespace URL. RELISH LMF uses as its XML namespace URL.

<!-- 3. optionally: add your own extensions -->
<!-- Define an User element
  (using as the XML namespace URL) -->

<define name="myexample.User">
  <element name="User" ns="">
    <ref name="myexample.User.attributes"/>
    <ref name="myexample.User.content"/>

<define name="myexample.User.attributes">
  <ref name="relish.lmf.common.attributes"/>

<define name="myexample.User.content">
    <ref name="relish.lmf.fs"/>

<!-- Link User to Lexical Resource -->
<define name="relish.lmf.LexicalResource.content" combine="interleave">
      <ref name="myexample.User"/>

This example shows the pattern used in RELISH LMF to declare an XML element:

  1. a main definition of the element which refers to:
  2. a definition of the attributes, which should at least refer to relish.lmf.common.attributes or relish.lmf.common.attributes.mandatory-id
  3. a definition of the content, which should at least refer to relish.lmf.fs and use interleaving (allow child elements to appear in any order)

This allows extensions to add attributes or child elements as shown for Lexical Resource.

RELISH LMF tries to retain some more information from the inheritance in the LMF object model by requiring a @type which indicates the super class. This allows Schematron rules to make the schema less lax, e.g., the core model requires that an valid lexical entry should always contain an instance of a Form subclass like Lemma. So if your extension includes a subclass the (highest) super class should be specified in @type. See the relish.lmf.Lemma.attributes definition in the Morphology extension for an example.

Now that the lexicon schema is ready it can be used to validate XML instantiations of it. First an instance has to be associated with the schema using an xml-model processing instruction:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<?xml-model href="path-to-your-lexicon/schema.rng" type="application/xml"
<?xml-model href="path-to-your-lexicon/schema.rng" type="application/xml"

Notice that the same schema is associated twice. The first association triggers the Relax NG validation and the second one Schematron validation. For example, oXygen understands this processing instruction will perform both Relax NG and Schematron validation.

  lmfVersion="ISO 24613:2008"
  <ex:User xml:id="jd">
      att="first name" dcr:datcat=""
      att="last name" dcr:datcat=""
      att="languageCoding" dcr:datcat=""
      val="ISO 639-3"
  <Lexicon xml:lang="en">
      att="language" dcr:datcat=""
    <LexicalEntry xml:id="le0001">
        att="partOfSpeech" dcr:datcat=""
        val="commonNoun" dcr:valueDatcat=""
      <Lemma type="Form">
          att="writtenForm" dcr:datcat=""

This instance exposes some of the changes compared to the LMF DTD RELISH LMF introduces:

  • there is a version attribute @lmfVersion which refers to the current ISO LMF standard
  • IDs are specified using the W3C @xml:id recommendation which allows XML tools to exploit them even without loading the schema
  • also @xml:lang is allowed which can, for example, be exploited by XML search engines to enable language specific stemming and stopping
  • features can identify the ISOcat data categories they use using @dcr:datcat for features and @dcr:valueDatcat for feature values (where applicable); this is also supported by TEI feature structures
  • the @type which indicates that Lemma is a subclass of Form

Notice that the annotating the individual feature instantiations with data categories quickly becomes highly redundant. In general it’s advised to annotate a resource schema. However, in (RELISH) LMF the schema (DTD or Relax NG) can only specify feature structures in a generic way. Fortunately, the TEI feature structure representation also supports feature system declarations. RELISH LMF supports a tei:fsdDecl element under LexicalResource. The examples include an instance document showing this.

Note: At the time of writing TEI P5 2.1.0 doesn’t support @dcr:datcat on tei:fDecl, which is clearly intended in the text. For now RELISH LMF has added this via its TEI feature structure representation module. This omission has been reported (see bug report).


Here are some small examples. Some only differ in which feature structure representation they use.

To test the completeness and compliance of RELISH LMF a set of test schemas and documents have been collected and created.

The following tests are examples taken from the standards text. Where needed the example has been extended to get a valid document, e.g., outer elements have been added or stubs for referential integrity.

ISO 24613:2008 Annex B Morphology examples
schema and instance
ISO 24613:2008 Annex F NLP syntax examples
schema and instances F.2.1 and F.2.2
ISO 24613:2008 Annex H NLP semantic examples
schema and instances H.1.2.1, H.1.2.2 and H.1.2.3
ISO 24613:2008 Annex J NLP multilingual notations examples
schema and instances J.2.1 and J.2.2

In the LIRICS project LMF test documents have been created (see also the LMF website). They have been adapted to RELISH LMF (but some needed some fixes) and used as test cases.

Design decisions

ISOcat data categories
RELISH LMF supports the ISOcat Data Category Reference vocabulary. This allows to associate a feature with its proper data categories, e.g., <feat att="languageCoding" dcr:datcat="" val="ISO 639-3"/>.

RELISH LMF embeds Schematron rules to check UML constraints and constructs that can’t be expressed in Relax NG:

  1. Global Information should contain the /language coding/ feature/data category
  2. A Lexical Entry should contain at least one instance of a subclass of Form
  3. A List of Components should contain at least 2 Components

From UML to XML
To be able to serialize to XML the UML construction used in LMF model need to be expressed somehow in XML. The standard is not explicit (and consistent) in this mapping. The following patterns were recognized and used in RELISH LMF:

  • Each non-abstract class is represented by an XML element, e.g., Lexical Resource is represented by a LexicalResource element.
  • If there is an aggregation the subordinate element is nested in the parent element, e.g., GlobalInformation is nested inside LexicalResource.
  • If there is an aggregation with an abstract class any non-abstract subclass can be nested in the element corresponding to the parent class, e.g., Lemma is nested inside LexicalEntry.
  • If there is a directed association the element corresponding to the originating class has an IDREF or IDREFS-typed attribute referring to an instance of the other class, e.g., a LexicalEntry instance can have an attribute mwePattern that refers to an instance of MWEPattern via its unique id.
  • Cardinality constraints are taken over into the schema where possible, e.g., a Lexicon should contain at least one LexicalEntry.

RELISH LMF additionally uses the following patterns:

  • In a specialized class the name of the parent (abstract) class is specified in the type attribute, e.g., <Lemma type="Form"/>.
  • Cardinality constraints with an abstract class are checked using the type attribute and a Schematron rule, e.g., a LexicalEntry should at least contain one instance of a subclass of Form.
  • Cardinality constraints inexpressible in the schema are checked by a Schematron rule, e.g., a ListOfComponent should contain at least two Component instances.

Using these patterns RELISH LMF mimics the LMF UML class model in XML and tried to stay close to the original DTD. At some places the UML class model contains undirected associations and then the DTD was used to determine the direction:

  • NLP semantics extension:
    • The association between Sense and Synset is expressed by the IDREF-typed synset attribute on Sense.
    • The association between Predicative Representation and Semantic Predicate is expressed by the IDREF-typed predicate attribute on PredicativeRepresentation.
    • The association between Predicative Representation and SynSemCorrespondence is expressed by the IDREFS-typed correspondences attribute on PredicativeRepresentation.
    • The association between SynSemArgMap and Syntactic Argument is expressed by the synFeature attribute on SynSemArgMap. Note: regarding the type of the attribute see the explanation of outliers below.
    • The association between SenSemArgMap and Semantic Argument is expressed by the semfeatures attribute on SynSemArgMap. Note: regarding the type of the attribute see the explanation of outliers below.
  • NLP multilingual notations extension:
    • The association between Sense Axis and Sense is expressed by the IDREFS-typed senses attribute on SenseAxis.
    • The association between Sense Axis and Synset is expressed by the IDREFS-typed synsets attribute on SenseAxis.
    • The association between Target Test and Syntactic Behaviour is expressed by the IDREFS-typed syntacticBehaviours attribute on TargetTest.
    • The association between Source Test and Syntactic Behaviour is expressed by the IDREFS-typed syntacticBehaviours attribute on SourceTest.
    • The association between Transfer Axis and Syntactic Behaviour is expressed by the IDREFS-typed syntacticBehaviours attribute on TransferAxis.
    • The association between Context Axis and Context is expressed by the IDREFS-typed examples attribute on ContextAxis.
  • NLP multiword experession patterns extension (MWE):
    • The association between MWE Pattern and Lexical Entry is expressed by the IDREF-typed mwePattern attribute on LexicalEntry.

Outliers, i.e., here the serialization is diverging from the patterns:

  • Conform the DTD the directed association between SynArgMap and Syntactic Argument in the NLP syntax extension is not expressed in an IDREFS-typed attribute but in two IDREF attributes arg1 and arg2 to capture the cardinality constraint.
  • The undirected associations between SynSemArgMap and Syntactic Argument and Semantic Argument are expressed by the attributes synFeature and semFeatures on SynSemArgMap, but these don’t contain IDs conform the examples in H.1.2.3 and the ItalianLMFTestSuites instance from LIRICs. (Note: the DTD doesn’t contain these attributes and the example in H.1.2.3 puts the information inside the feature structure. RELISH LMF aims to be consistent and follow the pattern as much as possible.)
  • The directed association between MWE Lex and Component isn’t expressed at all. The standard says “the components are not referenced directly but, on the contrary, they are referenced by their respective ordering as specified in the List of Component instance”.

Unresolved issues where especially any advice/feedback is highly appreciated:

  • The association between Predicative Representation and Syntactic Behavior isn’t expressed in the DTD, and also not in RELISH LMF. What should the direction be and how should the role be named?
  • A Semantic Argument instance must have an association with exactly one instance of SynSemArgMap, however these associations are not expressed in a resolvable fashion (see the outlier above). Is there a way to resolve these associations?
  • Affix Allomorph is a subclass of Form Representation, which would mean that anywhere where FormRepresentation is allowed also AffixAllomorph should be allowed. The standard text contradicts the direction of the inheritance: “Affix Allomorph is a generalization of the Form Representation class …”. In the DTD the relationship is implemented as an aggregation, i.e., zero or more FormRepresentation instances can be nested in an AffixAllomorph instance. How to interpret and implement this inheritance relationship? For now RELISH LMF follows the UML class model, i.e., <AffixAllomporh type="FormRepresentation"/>, but AffixAllomorph is not yet allowed everywhere where FormRepresentation is allowed.

Additional differences with the DTD:

  • MWENode allows to nest zero or more MWELex instances.



  • updated iso-fs.rng and tei.rng to TEI P5 2.6.0
  • Schematron rules now conforms to ISO/IEC 19757-3:2006


  • First complete release.