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Re: [ontolog-forum] using SKOS for controlled values for controlled voca

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Graeme Hirst <gh@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 15:42:15 -0400
Message-id: <4CB4BA17.5070607@xxxxxxxx>
John,    (01)

Two quick notes:    (02)

John F. Sowa wrote:
> EB:
>> I do not believe that many textbooks are written in natural language,
>> and I am not convinced that many formal documents -- treaties, contracts,
>> political positions, etc. -- are written in 'natural language'.
> I would agree that those texts are very different from typical spoken
> language, but there is an open-ended continuum of ways of using any NL.
>       (03)

My point was that we don't make ontologies for "typical spoken 
language", and there isn't much call for Natural Language Processing for 
the works of Danielle Steele (pop junk fiction) or the like.  The 
corpora that are the target applications of our knowledge engineering 
technologies are formalized.    (04)

> In fact, that is one reason why I like Wittgenstein.  All those examples
> are different "language games" that use the same vocabulary and grammar.
>       (05)

Indeed.  I also find Wittgenstein eye-opening, but that is beside the point.    (06)

> EB:
>> It seems to be a human trait, or at least a European one, to create
>> very formal languages that resemble natural language, but have purely
>> technical vocabularies, and carefully chosen turns of phrase that are
>> themselves technical in meaning.
> But people have been creating highly specialized "technical"
> vocabularies based on NLs from time immemorial.      (07)

Yes.  That is more or less what I was saying.  One could argue, I 
suppose, that all NL vocabulary terms were at one time technical, as 
long as you go back enough millenia to get the matching level of 
technology.  Some group called pigs "pigs" and some group called fingers 
"fingers", and so on.  But identifying particular varieties of swine, or 
particular structures of fingers, are the current technical terms that 
belong to the current level of technology, and earlier grosser or 
deprecated technical terminologies may now be discarded.    (08)

> Look at all the
> nautical terms in English, which preserve 18th century technology
> in frozen metaphors.  Look at all the prayers of every religion
> on earth.  Many of them preserve technical terms that predate
> writing.  Every sport has technical terms, which creep into the
> general vocabulary:  "three strikes and you're out" or somebody
> metaphorically "scored a hole in one" or "won by a knockout."
>       (09)

Yes, but the fact that they are metaphorical means that they don't have 
their technical meaning in "general speech".  They have some derived or 
analogous meaning, and in many cases, people use these terms without 
knowing the original technical meaning at all, or even what trade 
originated the term.  These terms still do have their technical meaning 
in the trade/sport/technology, if it still exists, and in those cases, 
they are part of the controlled language -- they have specific technical 
meaning.  That is, you are talking about a term that has different 
definitions in different "contexts" -- multiple "designations" in the 
ISO 1087 technical terminology.    (010)

(In this light, BTW, it is not clear why we should all understand the 
term "metaphor", but that we have all been educated to do so, like 
Gilbert's modern major general, in spite of its irrelevance to many trades.)    (011)

-Ed    (012)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (013)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (014)

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