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[ontolog-forum] Consensus on labeling of relationships?

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Phil Murray <pcmurray2000@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 21 May 2013 08:16:46 -0400
Message-id: <519B65AE.9000304@xxxxxxxxx>
Is there any consensus in the KR community on best practices for labeling
relationships among objects?    (01)

And a closely related question: Why English?    (02)

Going back to a recent thread:    (03)

[Patrick Cassidy] [snip] ....    (04)

What I consider "really, really bad practice" is to
use any labels other than those most easily and rapidly understood by the
human who is looking at the ontology.    (05)

[William Frank]    (06)

Absolutley, but 'human' among engineers so often means "english
speaker', or at least 'indo-european speaker'.  This is such a shame,
especially when English, which may be the most irregular, messy language
there is, is used as the model for what 'human beings' can understand
easily.    (07)

[Phil Murray] +10 !    (08)

I listen to American sports talk radio (Go Boston Bruins!) at times. If you
pay close attention to what commentators and fans are saying, you realize
that most of it is grossly ungrammatical. In fact, those discussions
are often incoherent when taken out of context not only because of
bad grammar but also because the vocabulary is just, er, wrong.
I have no idea how any newcomer to English understands it all
... even in context. Professional TV newscasts are rapidly approaching
that level of messiness, too.    (09)

Texting and Twitter aren't helping us. English is getting much messier.    (010)

So I, too, am uncomfortable with the habit of using English as the
default language of representations of meaning. It isn't just a matter of
bias that might be introduced (according to the weak Sapir-Whorf
hypothesis?) by English itself; it's a matter of the pervasive
peculiarities of English.    (011)

For example, in English, the use of the verb _to have_ in conjunction with
a noun (or noun phrase) is, well, a mess. (See, for example, the labeled
links has_buyer and has_object in the graphic at
http://www.w3.org/TR/swbp-n-aryRelations/ -- Use Case 3: N-ary relation
with no distinguished participant.) I'm not talking about using _to have_
as an auxiliary verb or the use of _to have to [do something]_ (indicating
obligation), both of which probably influenced these widespread _to have_
+ noun phrase constructions. (That's my uninformed guess, anyway.)    (012)

If you are representing the meaning of a purchase ("John bought a book
at books.com."), wouldn't _plays the role of Agent in_ or (perhaps even 
_participates as Agent in_ be better than "has_Agent" to represent the
relationship between John and the statement of fact about John's
activity?    (013)

The sentence _Christine has [a disease]._ is a kind of circumlocution or
shorthand, and it is a very typical construction in English. But Christine
does not "have" a disease in the same sense that she "has" a
pencil. That facile ambiguity makes me uncomfortable with using English _to
have_ in the human-readable labels for expressions of relationships.    (014)

In English, the verbs _to be_ and _to go_ are also pervasive in informal
communications. As native English speakers, we use such constructions 
they are a lot easier than using their more formal counterparts, and
because using a more formal expression might sound stiff or pompous.    (015)

Besides, not all natural languages use explicit forms of the verb _to
be_. The present tense in Russian is an example. Maybe some of the
native-Russian speaking participants in Ontolog could address the
implications.    (016)

IMHO, in formal representations of meaning, we should favor precision
over informality of speech -- at the risk of some stiffness -- even
if initial representations are rather informal. (I strongly support
Shipman and McCall's emphasis on incremental formalization.)    (017)


1. Does a relationship consist of the connecting arc only, or does it
encompass the two objects and the connecting arc? Maybe it's not either/or?    (019)

2. In abstract terms, if links are first-class objects, should they have
unique identities and support multiple forms of metadata?    (020)

3. We use computers and graphic for everything. Why are we limiting
human-readable labels of representations to strings of ASCII text?    (021)

Thanks,    (022)

     Phil Murray    (023)

---------------------    (024)

The Semantic Advantage
Turning Information into Assets
401-247-7899    (025)

Blog: http://semanticadvantage.wordpress.com
Web site: http://www.semanticadvantage.com    (026)

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