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Re: [ontolog-forum] language ambiguity

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2008 11:28:30 -0500
Message-id: <47B31AAE.9040509@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rob,    (01)

Who is that famous advocate of Chomsky's generative grammar that
converted to Talmy's approach?  Are you talking about Jackendoff?    (02)

 > The thing which stuns me about this is that the famous advocate
 > of Chomsky's generativism now seems to be a convert to Len Talmy's
 > Cognitive Linguistics! There is a strong flavour of Talmy in this
 > talk.    (03)

Although Jackendoff has been developing a linguistic-based version
of conceptual structures for a long time, he's still very much in
the Chomsky tradition.  Unlike Talmy, who has always done a cross
language study of semantics, Jackendoff still begins with syntax.
He still supports Chomsky's position of an innate syntax.    (04)

I have been in the anti-Chomsky crowd and a partisan of the semantic
crowd since 1968 -- that's when I wrote a term paper on conceptual
graphs for Marvin Minsky's AI course at MIT.  In my 1984 book, the
concluding chapter was "Limits of Conceptualization".  That was
an early version of ideas that I later presented in my articles
on knowledge soup.  See    (05)

    The Challenge of Knowledge Soup    (06)

In 1987, I taught a one-quarter course as a visitor to Stanford,
in which I used my _Conceptual Structures_ book (1984) as the text.
One of the students was trying to develop an ontology of spatial
relations for representing structures in civil engineering.
For her term paper, I recommended Talmy's papers on representing
spatial relations in multiple languages.  She wrote a very good
term paper, which she later developed into a PhD dissertation in
civil engineering.  A few years later, I met her thesis adviser,
who said that the civil engineering dept. at Stanford continued
to develop that approach.    (07)

For a brief summary of some aspects of Talmy's system, see    (08)

    2. Talmy's Typology    (09)

This is one chapter of a comparative analysis of the representation
of directed motion in English and Spanish:    (010)

    http://elies.rediris.es/elies11/    (011)

These studies illustrate several points:    (012)

  1. Linguistic structures across various languages and even within
     a single language reflect a variety of semantic relationships
     for representing related phenomena.    (013)

  2. There are many similarities across languages, but different
     languages make different choices of defaults and options.    (014)

  3. A study of the cross-linguistic semantic patterns can provide
     a good basis for developing an ontology to support the computer
     representation of semantic information.    (015)

  4. But the choice of ontology depends very much on the nature
     of the problem, and no one-size-fits-all ontology can ever be
     adequate for all possible problems and perspectives.    (016)

I emphasized these points in my 1984 book, my 2000 book, and many
articles before, after, and during those times.    (017)

John    (018)

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