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Re: [ontolog-forum] syntax & semantics

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Richard H. McCullough" <rhm@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 01:52:33 -0700
Message-id: <E1819037BB8A43F9B31A5D7287420111@rhm8200>
----- Original Message -----
From: "Christopher Menzel" <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
> 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!
> Just for the record, since this is a public forum: You haven't the
> slightest idea what you are talking about.
>> Formal semantics looks at the properties of the syntax of a language
>> which do not depend on the actual semantics of the language.
> Utter nonsense.
>> That is why I associate syntax with "possible meaning" and semantics
>> with "real meaning".
> Actually, the main problem is with its missing semantics, as explained
> to you, patiently, on numerous occasions.
> -chris
As you, John, and Pat continue to say -- you don't understand what I mean.
So, I will speak of specifics, instead of abstractions.
Here is a very simple example to illustrate what I mean.
My reference for "formal semantics" is the IKL specification document.
Consider the English sentence, "Fido is a dog."
[The mKR translation is "Fido isu dog;" ]
The "real symantics" of English [and mKR] tell us that
    a "dog" is a domesticated carnivious mammal, Canis familiaris
    "Fido" is the dog identified by Napa, CA animal control license # 1234.
The IKL translation of this sentence is
(and   (isu_rel Fido dog)   (dog Fido)   (individual Fido)  (property dog))
The "possible semantics" of IKL tell us that
    "dog" is a member of the set of all possible property names.
    "Fido" is a member of the set of all possible individual names.
    "Fido" is an individual which has the property "dog".

Dick McCullough

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