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Re: [ontolog-forum] What words mean

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2008 01:37:59 -0500
Message-id: <47B927C7.6020703@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Paola,    (01)

I was going over some of the older messages that I had missed,
and I came across the following item:    (02)

PDM> I am not going to say anything about the pain that lack
 > of political correctness throughout history has brought upon
 > humanity, however, I am sure an application can be built to
 > parse all the politically incorrect statements that exist on
 > the web and modify them accordingly to bring them up to current
 > acceptable standards of ethics (else archived them under
 > 'obsolete' label)    (03)

That raises an important point that goes beyond words to the
underlying attitude that leads to those words.  The term
"politically correct" was popular about twenty years ago,
but many people found it very artificial and stilted.    (04)

The people who proposed that term wanted to avoid offending anyone,
but they created some fixed and frozen rules and lists of good
words and bad words.  Yet any such list is arbitrary.  People
with hatred in their hearts can use the best possible words,
but anything they say will sound insincere and offensive.    (05)

Anybody who has good will and a sense of fairness and friendship
can say almost anything without offending anyone.  A person who is
unfamiliar with a culture should get a brief summary of the local
customs, including taboo words.  But an occasional lapse will be
excused.  A person who is not friendly can offend just by walking
into a room without saying anything.    (06)

And that raises a very serious question about language understanding.
Just having a list of good words and bad words isn't sufficient for
a computer (or a human) to express or understand intentions.    (07)

Subtle patterns are very important, and they affect every aspect
of understanding -- both linguistic and nonlinguistic.  People
(and even cats and dogs) recognize those patterns instinctively,
but programming a computer to recognize them is not easy.    (08)

John    (09)

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