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Re: Language?

From: David Allsopp <dallsopp@signal.dera.gov.uk>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 09:00:45 +0100
Message-ID: <3AFB9C2D.ADE32A@signal.dera.gov.uk>
To: Danny Ayers <danny@panlanka.net>
CC: www-rdf-interest@w3.org


Danny Ayers wrote:
> 
> >The patterns of "My name is Jim", "My cat is small" match, presumably,
> >but that won't allow us to work out the meaning of the symbols
> >"name","Jim","cat" and "small" - our foreign counterpart could be
> >talking about literally _anything_.  What does "Zr foo ga bar" mean?  We
> >can only try to deduce valid ways of putting the (meaningless) symbols
> >together, i.e. grammar.
> 
> I'll leave proofs to the logicians, but 1. I'm fairly sure that it would be
> impossible to match everything within a finite amount of time, 2. I am
> pretty sure that as long as most sentences written were valid (and the
> languages are both describing the same world as interpreted by the same kind
> of agents) then communication could take place.
> 
> Take a pair of limited vocabularies -
> We know the terms : 'the cat', 'sat on' 'the mat' - call them a, b, c
> Zog knows :  '$', '@', '!' (Zog), call them A, B, C
> 
> we might say abc, we might just say a, we might even occasionally say cab,
> but mostly we'll say abc.
> Now Zog says @!$ a lot, but rarely $!@ - does this suggest anything?

No, not really. With a lot of other examples we might be able to sort
some of the symbols into tentative categories and guess at some grammar
rules (assuming that the foreign grammar is anything like ours!), but we
still can never tell what the symbols actually mean. We may be talking
about the same world, but it's a pretty big world, and the symbols could
refer to _anything_.

One might have some success with very limited domains, such as
arithmetic, since you can illustrate numbers using any symbols:

A *
B **
C ***

A # B ***
A # A **
A # C ****

A ~ B **
A ~ A * 
B ~ C ******
etc.

Regards,

David.

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Received on Friday, 11 May 2001 04:01:48 GMT

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