Volume 2 Supplement 1

3rd German Conference on Chemoinformatics: 21. CIC-Workshop

Open Access

Breaking the language barrier: chemical nomenclature around the globe

  • R Sayle1
Chemistry Central Journal20082(Suppl 1):S11


Published: 26 March 2008


Chemical CompoundSignificant FractionText MiningLanguage BarrierPrimary Method

The use of chemical compound names remains the primary method for conveying molecular structures between chemists and researchers. In research articles, patents, chemical catalogues, government legislation and textbooks, the use of IUPAC and traditional compound names is universal, despite efforts to introduce more machine-friendly representations such as identifiers and line notations. Fortunately, advances in computing power now allows chemical names to be parsed and generated (read and written) with almost the same ease as conventional connection tables. A significant complication, however, is that although the vast majority of chemistry uses English nomenclature, a significant fraction is in other languages. This complicates the task of filing and analyzing chemical patents, purchasing from compound vendors and text mining research articles or web pages. This talk describes the issues and complications with manipulating compound names in various languages, such as Japanese, and describes current state-of-the-art tools to simplify the process, including recent work at OpenEye to support reading and writing of German chemical nomenclature.

Authors’ Affiliations

OpenEye Scientific Software, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA


  1. Kommission der Europäischen Gemeinschaften: “Rechtsvorschriften für Gefährliche Stoffe: Einstufung und Kennzeichnung in der Europäischen Gemeinschaft”. 1987Google Scholar
  2. Hellwinkel D: “Die systematische Nomenklatur der organischen Chemie: Eine Gebrauchsanweisung”. 2005, SpringerGoogle Scholar


© Sayle 2008