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Re: [ontolog-forum] Discussion re reasoning about Time and State with RE

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:41:05 -0400
Message-id: <53FDD1E1.90005@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Leo, Pat, and Phil,    (01)

> What we try to do is impossible, no? And so, let's just give up, eh?    (02)

> I already did, Leo.    (03)

That's a rational decision.  Many AI people, Terry W. for example,
adopted it years ago.  Others did because they needed a job.    (04)

Another rational decision is to redefine the problem.  Some redefined
NLP as statistical data mining of NL corpora -- and made more money
than we did.    (05)

> I suggest that natural language syntax is often the best way of
> (at least initially) representing natural language semantics.    (06)

I'd go one step further:  if any formal language could do better,
evolution would have discovered it many millennia ago.    (07)

That's one reason (among many) why I agree with the neuroscientist
Antonio Damasio:  "images [are] the main currency of our minds."
See slides 37 to 47 of http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/goal2.pdf .    (08)

That redefines the problem as one of mapping languages (natural
and/or artificial) to and from images.  That doesn't make it simpler,
but I believe that it gets us on the right track.    (09)

> Rather than redefine the term CNL, I'd propose using Fred Thompson's
> term "sublanguage", to refer to a subset of a natural language used
> for a specific semantic domain.    (010)

Chomsky's teacher, Zellig Harris, coined that term.  He used it in a way
that's close to Wittgenstein's 'Sprachspiel' (language game).  If you
look at the various CNLs that have been developed, they are basically
sublanguages or language games with a syntax and vocabulary tailored
to a particular domain.    (011)

Given that definition, I would say that a natural language is the
totality of all sublanguages or language games that can be played
with a given syntax and vocabulary.  For any particular text, the
challenge is to discover what game(s) is/are being played.    (012)

> Perhaps by the time the Semantic Web was proposed in 1998, most people
> had forgotten about Thompson's proposal, if they were ever aware of it.    (013)

I doubt that many (any?) of the W3C had heard of it.  I knew Fred T.
since the 1970s, but I didn't see that article until I was looking
for a reference for the slides I prepared in 2009.  I sent him a note
with a pointer to my slides, and he was pleased that somebody had
noticed his article.    (014)

John    (015)

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