W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-rdf-interest@w3.org > May 2001

Re: Language?

From: David Allsopp <dallsopp@signal.dera.gov.uk>
Date: Wed, 09 May 2001 16:54:02 +0100
Message-ID: <3AF9681A.11831773@signal.dera.gov.uk>
To: Craig Pugsley <cpugsley@bigfoot.com>
CC: Lee Jonas <ljonas@acm.org>, Graham Klyne <GK@ninebynine.org>, RDF Interest Group <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>


Craig Pugsley wrote:

> Maybe I'm missing the point, but its my view that the key simile to a
> 'conventional' spoken language that RDF carries is its ability to convey
> semantic information. We use languages to convey our own personal semantic
> representations of abstract concepts and ideas we have. And this is exactly
> what RDF is intended to (or at least 'can') do.
> It is only through the agreement we have in our societies as to what these
> symbols and grammar rules actually mean, can we use the language to convey
> semantic information between intelligent entities.
> In this sense, the similarity between RDF schema and a language's grammar
> rules can be drawn.

This is a little confusing as we also have the 'grammar rules'
specifying the syntax of RDF serialized in XML.

RDF Schema defines classes of object and properties and defines to some
extent which ones fit together; this is what you are comparing to a
natural language's grammar. 

RDF alone, without any schema/ontology is like a natural language with
unrestricted nouns and verbs; you can string any of them together
anyhow; the meaning is still tied to our human interpretation of the
symbols.

I was discussing this earlier today with someone, using the analogy of
two humans who each speak a language foreign to the other - with only
textual communication between them they can never achieve mutual
understanding, although they may be able to identify some words and
grammar rules.  Understanding is only achieved with some common
interpretation; they must be able to interact, point to objects ("Me
Tarzan, you Jane") and indicate sounds.

Regards,

David Allsopp.

-- 
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Received on Wednesday, 9 May 2001 11:58:33 GMT

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