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Re: [ontolog-forum] Labeling relations and grover models (merger of two

To: David Eddy <deddy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Edward Barkmeyer <edward.barkmeyer@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2013 17:46:08 -0400
Message-id: <519D3CA0.7020705@xxxxxxxx>
On 5/22/2013 5:03 PM, David Eddy wrote:
Ed -

On May 22, 2013, at 4:54 PM, Ed Barkmeyer wrote:

 Creating a well-defined CNL with a well-defined logical interpretation,

Where does one find this beast, CNL?

It's been my experience that most organizations—notice no definition of size here—don't have a clue what their language is, much less control it.

I'm still fighting the insanity of "We're going to have a single name for a thingy across the enterprise..."


A 'controlled natural language' is a grammar.  Some CNLs also legislate the vocabulary; most simply provide a means for the user to supply the vocabulary.  Many CNL vocabularies support synonyms -- the thingy can have multiple names.  Whether the association between a vocabulary term and its meaning is fixed or contextual is (usually) a feature of the CNL.  Some simply force the context to be explicit by having 'compound noun' (a context term followed by the noun it restricts) as a grammatical construct in the language. 

You should look at Tobias Kuhn's paper.  Its scope is impressive.

The purpose of a CNL is not to be "the language of the enterprise".  It is rather a formal language to be used for capturing and conveying specific kinds of information for some technical usage.  The objective of a CNL is to be clear and unambiguous, while being readable by practitioners in some domain. 

A good example (which Tobias discusses) is Simplified Technical English, which was originally developed to allow aircraft engineers to communicate clear requirements to the guys who build the parts.  STE does not have a grammar per se:  it makes strong suggestions about what English grammatical structures should be used when, and what ones should not be used.  It provides a base vocabulary, with a rule:  Use the word X when you mean X, but it allows the user discipline to add its own specific terms.  Many STE requirements sentences have a clear logical formulation, assuming appropriate relations.  Others use English conventions that are clear to human readers, but require a lot of careful thinking for a first-order logic rendition.  No one intends STE to be the lingua franca of any enterprise.  It is recommended practice for writing engineering requirements, full stop.  And that kind of constrained usage is the purpose of most CNLs.  A further goal of the more recent CNLs is to have a clear rendering into some formal logic, or at least some formal modeling language.


David Eddy

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Systems Integration Division, Engineering Laboratory
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800

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