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Re: [VM] Need a section about (Formal and Natural) Languages in Vocabularies?

From: Thomas Baker <thomas.baker@bi.fhg.de>
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 12:28:02 +0100
To: Bernard Vatant <bernard.vatant@mondeca.com>
Cc: SW Best Practices <public-swbp-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20041109112802.GA2056@Octavius>

On Fri, Oct 29, 2004 at 12:50:30PM +0200, Bernard Vatant wrote:
> I think we miss an important section in the document about the Language(s) 
> in which a Vocabulary is published.
> When I say Language, it's both so-called "Natural Languages" (like e.g.
> http://psi.oasis-open.org/iso/639/#fra) and "Formal Languages" (XML, RDF, OWL ...). 
> I would gladly see those added to the consensual glossary, something like.
> Formal Language : A formal standard syntax in which the Vocabulary is issued
> Natural Language : A language in which the terms are originally expressed (wording to
> improve here)

On further reflection, I agree with Bernard that we should
have something along these lines in the consensual glossary.
For one thing, it would help us make the distinction
between the two good-practice points 2.4 and 2.5 ("Provide
documentation about the Terms" and "Declare the Terms using
a machine-processable schema language") [1].

The possible definitions and what they imply about the nature
of language are endless.  Our task is not to define them
in the abstract, but simply to help the reader understand
the distinctions we are making in the paper.  To my way of
thinking, the intended distinction is essentially: "for humans"
as opposed to "for machines", as in:

    Natural language:  A grammar and vocabulary for statements
                       that can be uttered, written, and understood
                       by ordinary humans.

    Formal language:   A grammar and vocabulary for statements
                       intended for processing by machines.

I will add these to the VM draft as placeholders and am sure
we can improve on their wording.  In the meantime, this would
be a good time to air any arguments against making such a
distinction in the first place.


[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-swbp-wg/2004Oct/0148.html

Dr. Thomas Baker                        Thomas.Baker@izb.fraunhofer.de
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Personal email: thbaker79@alumni.amherst.edu
Received on Tuesday, 9 November 2004 11:22:42 UTC

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