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Abstract

Abstracts are brief summaries of the content of a work, and they have long been used to improve international accessibility and/or dissemination, e.g., in the form of English abstracts for articles published in non-English languages.

Universal abstracts are similar in that they summarize the meaning of a work, but the indexer creates them in a special lingua franca that makes them available in any language, not just, say, English.

Universal abstracting is performed by an indexer using a piece of software that guides him or her in creating a language-independent summary of the abstracted work. The abstract is written in a stylized form of the indexer's own language; internally, a knowledge representation that combines multilingual controlled vocabularies with a universal grammar based on the Montague Semantics for natural language is created. This form enables high-quality automatic translation – the internal representation is universal and localizes to any language or mode of communication.