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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology, Information Models and the 'Real World':

To: Waclaw Kusnierczyk <Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Ontolog Forum <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2007 11:46:10 -0500
Message-id: <p06230912c28f365501c0@[]>
>>>Back to the point:  I would rather not say
>>>"From a natural language view, I might take "Pat is sleeping" to mean
>>>something like, "please don't make to much noise, or you might wake him.""
>>>because it seems problematic to explain what the view of a natural
>>>language is, but, for example,
>>>"From Pat's wife point view, "Pat is sleeping" might mean something
>>>like, "please don't make to much noise, or you might wake him.""
>>>would be reasonable, I think.
>>Better, for sure. But still, I would say that this is strictly 
>>false. That sentence never *means* that. It might be used to convey 
>>that in a speech act, but that is a more complex matter. If we 
>>allow such things as sarcasm or irony into the mix, then "yes" can 
>>mean no, and silence can be extraordinarily expressive.
>Obviously;  anything wrong with it?    (01)

Well, it seems to pose a difficulty if one claims that any of these 
is the, or even a, linguistic meaning of silence. How many meanings 
does silence have? Is silence well-formed? How many natural languages 
assign a syntactic role to silence (or perhaps, silences)?    (02)

It seems to me that this way of looking at language casts the net of 
meaning too widely. True, human behavior in general can be viewed as 
potentially meaningful, and includes eye contact, facial expressions, 
gestures, dimensions of interpersonal space and host of other matters 
which anthropologists and ethnomethodologists study. But language is 
a small part of all this, and can (thank goodness) be studied in 
relative isolation from the larger picture. And whether you agree or 
not with this claim (and I concede that it might be false, in fact, 
and if so then most of modern linguistics is hopelessly beside the 
point), the fact remains that for the purposes of ontological 
engineering, we *must* consider our formal languages to be used 
independently of all this anthropological soup of social interaction, 
since inhuman dumb-as-dirt inference engines are supposed to be able 
to manipulate them without loss of meaning.    (03)

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