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Re: [ontolog-forum] Case realtions as Practical Semantic Primitives - wa

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 09 Aug 2013 01:25:48 -0400
Message-id: <52047D5C.4050608@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Gary and Leo,    (01)

> in that list I didn't see Fillmore's Case grammar,    (02)

Case relations or thematic roles are important.  They have some
similarity to primitives, but their meanings vary in their use with
one verb or another.  At VivoMind, we use them heavily for language
analysis, but they aren't as precise as a set of formal relations in
logic.  Following is a summary from the appendix of my KR book:    (03)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/ontology/thematic.htm    (04)

> For a quick perspective from linguistics, see Manfred Pinkal’s 2006
> slides  (among other; search for “Manfred Pinkal event semantics”):
> http://www.coli.uni-saarland.de/courses/semantics-06/lectures/lect13.pdf    (05)

Those slides are a useful summary, but Pinkal seems to think that event
semantics began with Davidson.    (06)

Historical notes:    (07)

  1. Peirce used event semantics long before Davidson.  He made the
     point that when A gives B to C, four entities are involved:
     A, B, C, and the act of giving.  When he represented such things
     in logic, he used quantified variables to refer to the events.    (08)

  2. Whitehead's magnum opus, _Process and Reality_, made processes
     (including events) the foundation for ontology.  He considered
     objects to be slow-moving processes.  When Davidson was an
     undergraduate at Harvard, he took the last course Whitehead
     taught before he retired, and that course was the one that
     inspired Davidson to study philosophy for a PhD.  Unfortunately,
     he got stuck with Quine as his thesis adviser, and he wasn't
     able to get back to events until many years later.    (09)

  3. It's true that Fillmore's case grammar (1968) has been very
     influential, but Jeffrey Gruber (1965) wrote his dissertation
     at MIT on thematic roles -- and that's the term that Chomsky
     and his colleagues use.    (010)

  4. But Roman Jakobson, whose native language was Russian, published
     a lot about cases in Russian and other languages.  Fillmore and
     Gruber had probably read those sources.    (011)

  5. Lucien Tesnière developed dependency grammar in the 1930s and 1940s,
     and he applied it to French and many other languages, especially
     the Slavic languages with their case systems.  His magnum opus was
     published posthumously in 1959.   It had a strong influence on the
     semantic networks in AI and computational linguistics.  Tesnière
     used the terms 'actants' for the major participants of verbs and
     'circonstants' for the prepositional phrases that referred to
     the other circumstances of the situation.    (012)

Davidson deserves credit for popularizing the idea among philosophers.
But Peirce introduced the idea of quantifying over events about 80
years earlier, John McCarthy was quantifying over events and situations
before Davidson, and computational linguists were implementing the idea
while Davidson and other philosophers were just talking about it.    (013)

Philosophers don't deserve special credit for not being familiar with
the literature.    (014)

John    (015)

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