W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > July 2007

Re: Terminology Question concerning Web Architecture and Linked Data

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 12:11:37 -0500
Message-Id: <p06230908c2cd1bc917e5@[]>
To: John Cowan <cowan@ccil.org>
Cc: www-tag@w3.org

>Ed Davies scripsit:
>>  If somebody thinks the URIs under discussion aren't
>>  aliases then they presumably also think that it is
>>  invalid to translate the Dutch word "kat" to the
>>  English word "cat" because you can't look up "cat"
>>  in an Dutch dictionary.
>I am willing to bet, ignorant of Dutch as I am, that there is
>a range of uses for "cat" which "kat" cannot bear, and perhaps
>vice versa as well.  Absolute synonymy is very rare even in
>a single language (usually it shows up in technical terms,
>like "Jakob-Creuzfeld disease" vs. "Creuzfeld-Jakob disease"
>vs. "spongiform brain encephalopathy") and across different
>languages it is unheard-of.
>>  Doesn't "alias" (or owl:sameAs) mean just "refers to
>>  the same thing", not "identical for all possible
>>  purposes"?  I don't think two terms being aliases (or
>>  owl:sameAs) implies that:
>That is a distinction without a difference, for it is the
>very essence of identicals that they are indiscernible, or as
>Mr. Spock once put it, a difference that makes no difference
>is no difference.

A still better way to put it is that there are no identical*s* 
(plural), since if A is identical to B then there is only one thing 
being talked about. Nothing is identical to anything *else*, only to 
itself. These are all synonyms: the set {A, B} has one thing in it; A 
and B are the very same thing; 'A' is just another name for B, and 
'B' for A; A is identical to B; A=B; owl:sameAs :A :B . And that is 
*why* they... er, sorry, it, is indiscernible: because one cannot 
discern between something and itself. One might rationally decide 
that there could be distinct indiscernibles (elementary particles 
obeying Bose-Einstein statistics might count), there surely cannot be 
discernible identicals.

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Received on Wednesday, 25 July 2007 17:11:54 UTC

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