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I'm Confused About RDF: A Subject is Not A Predicate, etc.

From: Ivon Fergus <ivonfergus@hotmail.com>
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 23:16:27 -0400
Message-Id: <200205110316.XAA11214@tux.w3.org>
To: www-rdf-comments@w3.org
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From: "Ivon Fergus" <ivonfergus@hotmail.com>
Message-ID: <F38t9vXkVYeRvB1apmQ00014bd7@hotmail.com>
To: bob@newarchitectmag.com, danbri@w3.org, guha@guha.com, phayes@ai.uwf.edu,
        uche.ogbuji@fourthought.com, www-rdf-comments@w3.org

First, I need to do a lot more research before I get into the subject of
RDF at
any length. However, because the magazine New Architect (formerly Web
Techniques) has published an article in its June 2002 edition by Dr. Uche
Ogbuji entitled "The Languages of The Semantic Web", I feel that it is
vital to
get the ball rolling now, even though I'm not at all sure in which direction.
Specifically, on p. 31, Dr. Ogbuchi makes the following amazing statement:

"RDF statements are hardly as complex as those we use in natural language.
They
have a uniform structure of three parts: predicate, subject, and object. For
example,: the author [predicate] of The Lord of the Rings [subject] is J.R.R.
Tolkien [object]."  

I will make some assumptions; Please correct me if I am wrong.  My first
assumption is that there must be a valid reason to totally diverge from the
common meanings of these terms.  For example, the word "author" is the subject
of the sentence, not the predicate. The booktitle is the object of the
preposition "of", not the subject, and only in some respects can "J.R.R.
Tolkien" be considered an object.When I went to school, the noun or pronoun
following an intransitive verb, such as "is" was called a predicate
nominative,
not an object. For example on web page:
<http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000016.htm>http://englishplus.com/grammar
/00000016.htm is the following statement: 

"Predicate Nominative 

A predicate nominative is a noun or pronoun which follows the verb and
describes
or renames the subject. It is another way of naming the subject. It follows a
linking verb. The predicate nominatives on this page have been italicized."  

I assume that "linking verb" is a synonym for intransitive verb.Perhaps a few
things have changed a bit since I was in school, but the only time we referred
to a noun or pronoun as an object was when it followed a transitive verb and
was its object. For example in the sentence, "He bought a book." the noun
"book" is the object because it has transitioned in some way.  In this case,
certainly not physically, but in terms of ownership. In the sentence, "He
burned a book." it is more obvious that the book is the object, and English
grammar also defines indirect objects as well as direct objects, so I can
understand that reasonable people can disagree about exactly what is a certain
part of speech and quibble in the finer parts of English grammar.
Nevertheless,
Dr. Ogbuchi's rendition of RDF grammar in this passage is so disjoint from
"natural language" as to be incomprehensible by an educated person. I am at a
complete loss as to why these definitions depart so ! ! radically from what I
learned in school. I decided that there must be very important consideraitons
that I am oblivious to that necessitated this massive shift, or perhaps Dr.
Ogbuci or New Architect needs to issue a clarification to this article.

Having deduced that much, I went to some of the relevant draft documents on
the
W3 website, seeking enlightenment. I briefly reviewed
<http://www.w3.org/RDF/>http://www.w3.org/RDF/ ,
http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-mt/ ,
and <http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-mt/>http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-mt/, and now must
confess that I am even more profoundly confused than before. Now, I am not an
ignoramous, so I beg for the RDF primer that one of these documents alluded
to,
so that I can begin to understand these documents and thus RDF grammar,
syntax,
and effective usage.  Perhaps I should have looked at other web pages.
Would at
least one of you be so kind as to respond?

Thank you,

Ivon Fergus
Received on Friday, 10 May 2002 23:16:58 GMT

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