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Re: [ontolog-forum] Language and logic

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 21:25:55 -0500
Message-id: <4B2450B3.2080501@xxxxxxxxxxx>
David,    (01)

DE> John is spot on regarding the "drift" of meaning.
 > As far as I've seen here, there is neither acknowledgment
 > nor interest in this "drift" phenomenon.    (02)

Lexicographers certainly acknowledge and study that drift,
and historical linguists study the way the drift causes
languages to evolve over centuries and millennia.    (03)

But too many people who talk about ontology ignore that
drift or hope that they can stop it with formal definitions.
But even in the computer field, for which formal precision
is essential, we experience that drift every day.    (04)

For example, just look at the manuals for any software system
that has survived beyond release 1.0.  You'll notice that most
of the words used in each release (and each bug fix or "Service
Pack") are carried through from one version to the next.    (05)

Yet each version of the software changes the definitions of
some or all of the terms.  In fact, every monthly bug fix
from a major vendor changes the definitions of some terms.    (06)

Software vendors try to make their revisions "upward compatible".
That means that some terms acquire more meanings, but all the
original meanings are still true.  In practice, however, we
all know that many programs that were compatible with version
x.2 will have to be changed to run with version x.3.    (07)

I strongly urge any ontologists who have high hopes for some
kind of universal ontology to study the actual day-to-day
interoperability problems of current systems.    (08)

John    (09)

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