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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 her in creating a language-independent summary of the abstracted work. She writes the abstract in a stylized form of her own language; internally, a knowledge representation that combines multilingual controlled vocabularies with a universal grammar is created. This form enables high-quality automatic translation – the internal representation is universal and localizes to any language or mode of communication.
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