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Re: #rdfms-literals-as-resources in scope?

From: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 18:41:17 -0700
Message-Id: <v04210111b7827d1aa892@[130.107.66.237]>
To: Graham Klyne <Graham.Klyne@Baltimore.com>
Cc: w3c-rdfcore-wg@w3.org
>At 02:38 PM 7/12/01 -0700, pat hayes wrote:
>>(2) it isnt absolutely clear what 'identify' means, but many people 
>>seem to think that it means 'denote'
>
>Pat, could you please offer (or cite) a few words defining 'denote' 
>for the terminology?

Wow.

OK, I'll try.

Denote. (v) The fundamental semantic relationship between the 
syntactic and semantic domains; the relationship between an 
expression and the entity it is interpreted to mean or refer to, 
expressed (somewhat misleadingly) as an activity of the expression 
oriented towards the thing. For example, a person can be said be 
denoted by their name. Hence, denotation (n), the thing or things 
denoted by a name or expression.

Exactly what counts as a suitable denotation for some kinds of 
expression has been the subject of much debate, eg assertional 
sentences may be said to denote truth-values, or propositions, or 
functions from possible worlds, etc.. Typically, a given semantic 
theory for a human language takes a particular stance on such issues, 
providing a precise analysis of some range of intuitive meanings 
while excluding others from consideration. For formal languages, the 
range of denotations is usually specified mathematically. In formal 
semantics, an interpretation of a language is specified by rules 
which determine the denotations of complex expressions in terms of 
the denotations of their subexpressions, often called a 
truth-recursion.

Note. The relationship between a sign and what it denotes - the 
denotation relationship - is not considered to have any particular 
causal or physical significance, in general. Philosophers have noted 
that if denotation were a physical relationship then it would travel 
faster than light every time an astronomer mentions a star. 
Similarly, there is no way, in general, to compute the denotation of 
a name from the name itself. Both of these observations follow from 
the fact that the denotation of any expression is only defined 
relative to an interpretation of the language or notation in which 
the expression occurs.

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Received on Monday, 23 July 2001 21:41:11 EDT

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