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Re: [ontolog-forum] SME (subject matter experts) and Ontology developeme

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Thomas Johnston <tmj44p@xxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 5 Apr 2015 17:01:58 +0000 (UTC)
Message-id: <1134750723.97840.1428253318504.JavaMail.yahoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

You know much more about Chomsky than I do, so I'll leave this particular discussion at that.

And I thank you very much for telling me about this forum. I enjoy the exchanges, and learn from them. Also, the archives are a rich resource for me.

I wonder if anyone has thought about organizing and publishing large chunks of the archives? The special value they have is that they show ideas in development, under discussion -- not just as they are when they've reached some "final stage" that one author thinks worth publishing.

Best wishes,


On Tuesday, March 31, 2015 9:17 AM, John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


I recently came across a paper I wrote back in 1983, which shows
why I am underwhelmed by Chomsky's so called "paradigm shifts":

> So here's Chomsky on what the Minimalist Program leaves behind:
> “D-structure; S-structure; government; the Projection Principle and the
> Theta Criterion; other conditions held to apply at D- and S-Structure;
> the Empty Category Theory; Case Theory; the Chain Condition, and so on

In 1959, the following book by Tesnière was published posthumously:

    Tesnière, Lucien (1959) Éléments de Syntaxe structurale, corrected
    edition, Paris: Librairie C. Klincksieck, 1988. Translated as
    Elements of Structural Syntax by T. Osborne & S. Kahane, Amsterdam:
    John Benjamins, 2015.

Chomsky's classification of grammars in the 1950s appeared at exactly
the right moment to have an enormous influence on formal linguistics.

But Tesnière's book had, and continues to have, a stronger influence
on computational linguistics than any of Chomsky's versions of
transformational grammar.  It has also had a very strong influence
on theoretical linguistics, especially for languages other than
English.  And it has recently been translated to English.

In my 15-page paper in 1983, I showed how multiple transformations
and different word orders in different languages can be generated
by different choices for scanning and linearizing a graph.

I learned the basic ideas from three sources:  (1) Tesnière's book,
(2) Joseph Greenberg's writings about word order in various languages,
and (3) the various comp. sci. algorithms for linearizing a graph.

I think it's a nice paper that illustrates Ron Kaplan's point:
"The average computer scientist will think up a half dozen new
formalisms before breakfast.  But in linguistics, Chomsky is the
only person who is allowed to invent new formalisms.  If anyone
else dares to do so, Chomsky denounces it as a notational variant
of one of his own."

Summary:  Chomsky's many versions of transformational grammar
are notational variants of Tesnière's theory.  But Tesnière was
first and better.

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