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Re: [ontolog-forum] Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 07:48:44 -0500
Message-id: <512CAF2C.1040909@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 2/26/2013 5:22 AM, Hassan At-Kaci wrote:
> Food for thought ... and IRA's ... ;-)
>http://www.ted.com/talks/keith_chen_could_your_language_affect_your_ability_to_save_money.html    (01)

Thanks for the pointer. Keith Chen is a good speaker, and he presented
the hypothesis and the results very well.  I recommend it.    (02)

Relationship to ontology:  Many of us have found that a 4D ontology
for spacetime is more useful for representing and reasoning about
certain kinds of relationships than a 3+1 D ontology.    (03)

In effect, English is a strongly 3+1 D language that forces every
statement to be situated on a time line.  But Chinese is more
of a 4D language that ignores the time line unless there is
a specific need to make the time reference explicit.    (04)

These issues are relevant to both the influence of different natural
languages on thought and the influence of different kinds of ontology
on methods for knowledge representation and reasoning.    (05)

Some observations about the talk:    (06)

  1. Keith did *not* claim that language constrains thought, but
     that it *influences* thought in a way that could be overcome
     by a conscious decision.    (07)

  2. He is not doing this study by himself.  He has been collaborating
     with colleagues at Yale in both linguistics *and* economics.    (08)

  3. He did *not* do data mining by blindly searching for correlations.    (09)

  4. Instead, he followed good scientific methodology: (1) formulate
     the hypothesis, (2) check it on some easy to find data, and then
     (3) test it on detailed data that could confirm it or refute it.    (010)

John    (011)

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