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language vs. ontology was Re: [ontolog-forum] April 20 session on taggin

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Patrick Durusau <patrick@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 08 Apr 2006 06:08:04 -0400
Message-id: <44378B84.1080900@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Adam,    (01)

Adam Pease wrote:    (02)

> Folks,
>   For what it's worth, I think there is a common problem surfacing 
> here, that Bill has tried to point out.  Language and ontology are 
> different.  Human language (and any given word in a human language) is 
> ambiguous and highly contextual.  Terms in an ontology are not 
> ambiguous (or at least, shouldn't be if they are properly and formally 
> defined).
>   Typically, this has been a problem, because computational linguists 
> have often used linguistic elements as pseudo-logical terms in 
> semantic forms.  Ontology builders often use linguistic elements as 
> proxies for doing a full semantic definition, leaving much of the 
> interpretation embedded in the conventional meaning of the 
> linguistic-based term.
>   The approach we've taken in SUMO is to make this distinction 
> explicit, and to address language and ontology in separate but related 
> products.  SUMO is the formal ontology with terms defined 
> unambiguously in first order logic.  Those terms are related through 
> semi-formal links to the word senses in Princeton's WordNet.    (03)

Language and ontology are different???    (04)

Hmmm, well the foundational paper for SUMO states:    (05)

"In order to enable continued progress in ecommerce and software 
integration, we must give
computers a common language with a richness that more closely approaches 
that of human
language." http://home.earthlink.net/~adampease/professional/FOIS.pdf    (06)

Granted a great deal of effort has gone into making SUMO precise, but 
the same could be done for any language. It is interesting but not 
persuasive that its terms have been "defined unambigouously in first 
order logic." And that is relevant for what reason? Perhaps first order 
logic is not relevant to all the problems faced by the World Bank. 
Recall that the current fascination with first order logic is a repeat 
of a debate that has ebbed and flowed for many years. Justice Holmes 
wrote in the 1890's that the life of the law had been experience and not 
logic. (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2373/2373-h/2373-h.htm)    (07)

In any event, there is no reason to disenfranchise the World Bank from 
representing their language/ontology in favor of using SUMO. There have 
been any number of attempts to produce universal languages, LogLang is 
one of the more recent ones.    (08)

There are standards that seek to empower users to define their own 
languages/ontologies and yet remain mappable to others. See, for example 
the Topic Maps Reference Model CD draft at: 
http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0710.pdf.    (09)

Hope you are having a great day!    (010)

Patrick    (011)

Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005    (012)

Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!     (013)

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