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Re: [ontolog-forum] syntax & semantics

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 00:32:28 -0500
Message-id: <49F694EC.20309@xxxxxxxx>
Richard H. McCullough wrote:
> According to the dictionary,
>     the syntax of a language is
>     the grammatical rules for combining terms
>     into phrases and sentences of a language.
>     the semantics of a language is
>     the relation of terms to their meanings --
>     the things which those terms denote/refer to.
> In a most unfortunate perversion of definitions, probably due to the
> influence of Noam Chomsky, "formal semantics"/"model theory" is
> concerned with the syntax of a language, independent of the semantics
> of a language.    (01)

So philosophers, logicians, computer scientists, linguists, and
mathematicians since Tarski have all *thought* that what they were
studying under the rubric "formal semantics" was indeed semantics.  But
they have in fact all been mistaken; they've only been studying syntax
all along.  A remarkable discovery!    (02)

Just for the record, since this is a public forum: You haven't the
slightest idea what you are talking about.    (03)

> Formal semantics looks at the properties of the syntax of a language
> which do not depend on the actual semantics of the language.    (04)

Utter nonsense.    (05)

> That is why I associate syntax with "possible meaning" and semantics
> with "real meaning".    (06)

You can choose to use language however you like.  Just do not expect
anyone in the scientific community have any idea what you are talking
about.    (07)

> You (and Pat Hayes and Chris Menzel) are very focused on syntax.
> Whenever I mention some issue relating to the semantics of mKR, you
> change the subject to [the "missing" documentation of] the syntax of
> mKR.    (08)

Actually, the main problem is with its missing semantics, as explained
to you, patiently, on numerous occasions.    (09)

> Let's not lose sight of the fact that semantics logically precedes
> syntax.  As a language evolves, there is an interaction between syntax
> and semantics, but syntax is the servant of semantics.    (010)

And this sort of thing is why, in the physical sciences, computer
science, linguistics, mathematics, and logic we have a system of peer
review.    (011)

-chris    (012)

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