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[ontolog-forum] Semantic Markers in "THE STRUCTURE OF A SEMANTIC THEORY"

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 06 Jul 2014 15:15:01 -0400
Message-id: <53B9A035.4070207@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
My question concerns the use of "markers" in linguistics and ontologies.

Katz and Fodor introduced markers in their seminal paper, "THE STRUCTURE OF A SEMANTIC THEORY", 1963. The discussion presents the use of "male" and "female" as markers that are useful in disambiguation.

"What formally characterizes a sex-antonymous pair of words is that the members have identical paths except that where one has the semantic marker (Male) the other has the semantic marker (Female). Since there are indefinitely many important semantic relations which cannot be formally reconstructed from entries in the conventional dictionary, conventional dictionary entries have a serious theoretical disadvantage."

OK, I get it that dictionaries are not the best source for ontological knowledge and the authors not some deficiencies. Further, the paper is not addressing ontologies in any manner. My concern is that there seems to be an effort to cover semantic space by defining a structure of marker for certain words rather than ascribing them to properties or attributes.

My questions are:
  - are markers still accepted as useful linguistic structures or have markers morphed into other mechanisms?
  - have there been accepted efforts of homologation between the linguists' view of semantics and the ontological view? Is this even necessary?

-John Bottoms
 FirstStar Systems
 Concord, MA USA

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