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Re: [ontolog-forum] English number of words/concepts that cannot be comp

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 03 May 2014 14:53:43 -0400
Message-id: <53653B37.6000704@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Gregg, Tom, Pat C, and John B,    (01)

> Have you looked at Natural Semantic Metalanguage?
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_semantic_metalanguage    (02)

Yes.  I cited Anna Wierzbicka's _Lingua Mentalis_ in my 1984 book,
and I've followed her other books over the years.  I call her
primitives 'accordion words' -- because you can stretch them and
squish them to fit anything you please.    (03)

They're useful.  To quote my favorite philosopher, C. S. Peirce:
> It is easy to speak with precision upon a general theme.  Only, one
> must commonly surrender all ambition to be certain.  It is equally
> easy to be certain. One has only to be sufficiently vague.  It is
> not  so difficult to be pretty precise and fairly certain at once
> about a very narrow subject. (CP 4.237)    (04)

Again, I recommend that every reader of this list *study* the paper
"I don't believe in word senses."  Adam K and Sue A are *professionals*
in lexicography and computational linguistics.  They know the difference
between accordion words and precise definitions.  Both can be useful
for different purposes, but it's important to know the difference.    (05)

> I am looking for (I'm going to call it) 'fundamental concepts' and I
> am making the assumption that there is some basic agreed level of
> definition of these concepts so we don't end up in Physics and Chemistry.    (06)

Brief answer:    (07)

  1. There is no "basic agreed level" whatsoever -- NONE!    (08)

  2. The top level of an ontology *must* be vague and underspecified.
     It can be useful, but the real knowledge is in the lower levels.    (09)

  3. Please remember that Cyc started out with the assumption that a
     formal ontology of the knowledge of a high-school graduate could be
     specified in 10 years.  After 30 years and over $100 million of
     investment, Doug Lenat has emphasized that all the real knowledge
     is in the detailed low levels.  The top level is very vague and
     underspecified.  It cannot support any kind of detailed reasoning.    (010)

> My criteria for 'fundamental concept' is that it cannot be replaced
> by a semantic net-let that crosses the agreed level.    (011)

If that's your definition, then you're talking about the empty set.
There is no concept or thought of any kind that cannot be analyzed
at a deeper level.    (012)

> So John S, to take your examples...    (013)

I was just trying to give one-line examples.  In any case, the
terms in your analyses are accordion words.  Please study that
paper by Adam K.    (014)

> as Lakoff shows us in "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things" the
> universals are different for different linguistic environments...
> But it still comes down to what type of tasks are facing. The "core"
> concepts for farming are very different from those needed in the office.    (015)

Yes!  But I would avoid using the word 'core' because it gives the
mistaken impression that some kind of core is possible.  But even for
farming and offices, the basic terms are accordion words.  Note how
we use the abbreviation 'cc' in our emails.  In office-speak, it used
to mean 'carbon copy'.  When was the last time you saw a carbon copy?    (016)

> according to Guo, the number of senses used **in the definitions**
> average to less than 2.    (017)

If so, Guo doesn't know how to define words or to count definitions.
I suspect he was using those terms as accordion words.  If you stretch
and squeeze them enough, you can adapt them to almost anything.    (018)

But with every stretch and squeeze, you blur an immense amount of info.
Please tell Guo to study Adam K's paper.  Also study the publications
about *microsenses* by Alan Cruse.  A microsense is any intermediate
point as you stretch and squeeze your accordion.    (019)

> If anyone knows of such a study, I would very much like to get a pointer.    (020)

I've given you many, many pointers over the years.  And I beg you
to study them until you reach enlightenment.  For starters, please
reread http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/goal3.pdf and *follow* every URL
to every reference in it.    (021)

Those other goalX.pdf files are also surveys.  You have to dig into
the references until you get the point.  Anything that looks like
or smells like a primitive is probably an accordion word.    (022)

John    (023)

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