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Re: [ontolog-forum] Visual Notation for OWL Ontologies (VOWL)

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2014 13:26:37 -0400
Message-id: <5374F8CD.9010300@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Kingsley and Ed,    (01)

> Could one consider an RDF triple as a digital CNL that's actually human
> comprehensible?    (02)

The short answer is yes, but with qualifications.  There are some
humans who consider the TCP/IP packets to be comprehensible.    (03)

Longer answer:    (04)

The three parts of a triple can be expressed in any suitable format.
Most URIs aren't widely comprehensible, but it's possible to map them
to more broadly comprehensible words or phrases.  It's also possible
to add more NL syntax to improve readability.    (05)

I am a strong believer in Wittgenstein's theory of "language games.
(For an intro, see http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/goal4.pdf )    (06)

In LW's terms, a natural language is the totality of all language games
that can be played with a given syntax and vocabulary.  In that sense,
every CNL that uses the syntax and vocabulary of some NL is a *subset*
of that NL.    (07)

Different CNLs of the same NL may use different subsets, but anyone who
can read that NL can read any CNL of that NL without being aware of the
boundaries of that CNL.  But -- and this is a very big **BUT** -- it is
much harder for people who know the NL to stay within the boundaries
of a CNL with they try to speak it or write it.    (08)

> I recommend that you first understand the requirements for your
> language and its logic translation, and suit the strategy to the purpose.    (09)

I agree.  In general, my recommended strategy is to use a *family* of
CNLs that are adapted to different purposes.  For example, a CNL that
makes RDF readable would be distinct from a CNL that makes OWL readable
or a CNL that makes Prolog readable.    (010)

For anyone who knows the base NL, it's not hard to read a mixed text
that includes sentences from each of those CNLs.  But learning to write
them -- and knowing when and how to switch among them -- is nontrivial.    (011)

> What if it is a student or secretary entering what they understand
> to be "the master's words"?  Do you want them to guess what was intended?    (012)

Never!  Most people who are interviewed by a reporter are horrified
by the paraphrases of a "professional" reporter.  Exact quotes are
usually more reliable -- provided that enough context is available.    (013)

I would *never* trust any paraphrase that anybody makes of what I
write.  I'd rather take my chances with a computer -- provided that
I have the option of using suitable tools to correct what it does.    (014)

John    (015)

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