[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology similarity and accurate communication

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2008 00:46:22 -0500
Message-id: <021501c880df$bdbef590$393ce0b0$@com>

Almost all of the points we disagree on could form the basis for a very long extended discussion which would not likely reach a mutually satisfactory conclusion.  There are two  issues that are worth pursuing, but only one is central to the hypothesis that I asserted that started this thread.   The core issue is whether, in the early years, people develop a common ontology (obviously, not a formal one) and an associated vocabulary that is so close among individuals that it allows highly accurate communication **when restricted to the most basic concepts**.  That set of commonly understood concepts is what I consider the brain’s equivalent of a “conceptual defining vocabulary”, a formal foundation ontology  that has an inventory of representations of basic concepts that will allow logical specifications of almost all specialized terms one might want to represent.   You say that I have no evidence.  I say that the fact that we can communicate accurately when we try to is very good evidence that we have an adequate vocabulary of words with agreed meanings.  You say that psycholinguistic research has already disproven the notion that children can learn to communicate with a common vocabulary by the experience of seeing words used in context to refer to objects and events.  Fine, that would be useful information.  So, educate us and provide us with the references to that research which you are convinced shows otherwise.  Online references if possible.  And on-point, please, no list of general tomes on language learning.


To be more specific:

[[[3]]] [PH]  >> HOW? How is it possible for two children in kindergarten to align their mental ontologies? The idea doesn't even make sense: it would require them to be telepathic.

[pc]    No, no telepathy needed.  They need only both  hear a word used in reference to the same objects or events.


[PH] There is no evidence, psychological or computational, that such mere associating of word sounds with objects is enough to learn language from. How would one get from this the meaning of a word like 'embarrassing'?  You are just not talking about anything remotely real here.


. . .  and later:

[PH] I have no idea how they do it [learn language]. If I did, I would be famous in psycholinguistics. But I do know a fairly long history of failure of simplistic ideas about how it is done, of which the one you describe is one of the first, and all of which have been shown to be wrong or inadequate. The most trenchant observation about yours is that neither kids nor adults actually speak in the object/word way that would be necessary for this to work.


I am not sure what you are referring to here as being “wrong” or disproven.  I did not say that children learn *only* by pointing to objects, but by hearing a word used in reference to objects and events.  When a person does something obviously stupid and says “That was dumb.  I am so embarrassed” one can start right away to grasp the meaning of “embarrassed”, if one knows the other words.  Subsequent references to that  event and others as “embarrassing” add to the detail of understanding.  And of course people use grammatical cues, and use words already learned to grasp the meaning of new words.  None of this is a theory of language acquisition, but it is a description of how people can acquire the *same* meanings for the same words by seeing them used consistently in such contexts.  Common experience of seeing language used to describe images may also be part of the process these days.  The only point here is that there are a sufficiently large set of *common* experiences associated with language use to support the development of an adequate common defining vocabulary and associated mental objects.   Whatever the full process of language learning is, the reason we can communicate is that the full set of experiences of use of words allows most native speakers to induce the same common meaning.  If this is insufficient to explain how we can acquire a vocabulary in common with those we speak to, please do refer us to the papers that explain what part of this process description is wrong and disproven.  Is it “inadequate”? – of course.   At no point did I suggest that the set of language acquisition methods I referred to in one sentence is complete.


The interesting second issue is, why do people building ontologies disagree on how to represent certain concepts.  That is somewhat related, but really a separate issue which should be pursued in a different thread.  Later.




Patrick Cassidy



cell: 908-565-4053


Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Subscribe/Config: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To Post: mailto:ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx    (01)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>