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Re: [ontolog-forum] Levels

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 18:12:22 -0500
Message-id: <45DB8056.9000609@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Duane, Debbie, Pat, et al.,    (01)

That is true of every natural language:    (02)

DN> I may not have worded it correctly, but the key point is
 > that in certain languages, some words become "favorites" which
 > I interpreted to mean they "carried more weight" than others.
 > Some words in a sentence actually modify the context of the
 > other words in the sentence.    (03)

Different languages put different emphasis on different features,
but they all treat some words as more significant than others.
Telegraph style or the jargon used in instant messaging shows
how much can be deleted while still retaining some measure of
intelligibility.    (04)

DN> This makes it very difficult to nail down the semantics of
 > any one word in an ontology, dictionary or other lexicon.    (05)

Almost every word in every sentence in every natural language
can get professional linguists, logicians, and philosophers
bogged down in endless wrangling over what it means.    (06)

DMacP> The point is more the relationship between reader and
 > writer. Whether these are multiple people or multiple computers.
 > A preferred or required sequence of understanding.    (07)

For special purposes, a small group of people (or intelligent
agents) can work out conventions for pinning down the meanings
of various words.    (08)

PH> The moral to draw is that human languages are a poor model
 > for ontology languages, which have to be used by poor dumb
 > uncultured computers with no wise humans to help them.    (09)

I agree to a certain extent, but with qualifications:    (010)

  1. Humans are so good at interpreting NLs that other humans
     can become very lazy in their modes of expression.    (011)

  2. Computers are much better than humans in *detecting*
     ambiguities, but they are much worse in determining what
     to do about them.    (012)

  3. Therefore, it requires great effort for people to write
     with precision in their native language.  It can be done,
     but only when a computer is present to bark at them whenever
     they make the inevitable errors or ambiguities.    (013)

  4. Consequently, training in a less tolerant language, such
     as symbolic logic or a programming language, is necessary
     to help people see how much work needs to be done to state
     everything with the utmost of precision.    (014)

John    (015)

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