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Re: [ba-ohs-talk] Re: Semantic web meta data

At 14:23 +0100 2002/08/05, Murray Altheim wrote:    (01)

>What does anyone mean
>when they say a word? How does anyone else interpret that word?    (02)

Years ago, a fairly young Indian co-worker (went to college in US, 
but had very traditional parents back in India) confided in me that 
he had a major problem. His parents were a arranging a marriage for 
him in India, and he was horrified at the prospect of getting married 
to someone he had never seen and most likely wouldn't like. He asked 
me a variation of "shouldn't I be allowed to find a wife for myself, 
someone whom I love?"    (03)

I asked him what response his parents would give to him when asked 
the same question, and he said it would be something like "you don't 
marry for love" and "if you want to have an affair with someone you 
love after you are married that would be fine." He was even more 
horrified at that idea.    (04)

Obviously, he and his parents had very different interpretations of 
what the word "marriage" meant. (Note that this was not a language 
translation problem!) We then embarked on this modeling exercise, 
basically, trying to discern what the underlying concepts were, and 
what names different people would give to those concepts. And we 
discovered that what his parents would call "permanent girl-friend 
outside marriage" was much closer to his idea of marriage, while 
their idea of marriage was a concept he did not feel he could really 
understand.    (05)

Global ontology? Maybe ... but it is much much harder than it is 
generally appreciated. Being an immigrant to the US, and not a native 
speaker, I'm close to deciding for myself that any form of language 
translation by anyone (and I'm not even talking about computers) is 
impossible (not "hard" -- impossible) because the underlying concepts 
don't really map. And if we can't do that very well, how can we 
construct a global ontology? I don't see how ... maybe 50 years from 
now, with the process being in step 7 after 20 years of trying, "and 
then, a miracle occurs" ;-)    (06)