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07 May Pairs of Language Strata

Domain Concept Symbol Idea

The Paired Model By pairing language strata, we attempt to find or describe symmetrical structures in language, thus helping clarify one of the most abstract phenomena known to man: verbal communication. This pairing of characteristics is also useful in decomposing the problem into smaller chunks to make it easier for computers to deal with. A note […]

03 May Up from Words to Sentences

Crossword Puzzle

Words and Sentences The game of Scrabble is completely about words. Crossword puzzles go from sentence or phrase to word. Our analytical approach begins with the word, but doesn’t stop there. From both the cognitive and computational perspectives, the sentence exhibits far more complexity and changeability than the word. At any given moment, the structure of […]

30 Apr Exceptional Logic

Exception

Exceptions to the Rules In natural language, exceptions to rules of grammar and other characteristics are frequent, and exhibit little consistency or predictability. They may multiply in discourse and in situations where the speaker/writer’s competence is limited. Idioms and irregular verbs are common exceptions which can be quite difficult to categorize or describe using formal descriptive grammar. Further exceptions […]

29 Apr The Multiple Meanings of Polysemy

Polysemy and Constraints Perhaps the most difficult task in Natural Language (NL) understanding is the resolution of polysemy or multiple meanings. Many words in every language do not exhibit polysemy and require no disambiguation. Most words, however, can be interpreted in at least a few different ways. This makes disambiguating NL text a non-trivial task. Each different meaning and shade […]

28 Apr Mosaic of Concepts

Stereo Vision

KR Mosaic On our way to knowledge representation (KR), we’ve looked at concepts and logical propositions and words and taxonomies. I know this can all be a bit confusing, but please bear with me a little longer. Word relations are more than a two-dimensional mosaic of related concepts – they form a deep hierarchy with multiple […]

25 Apr Conceptual Paradigms

Broken Egg

Conceptual Structure The different functions of language are acquired at different stages. As described by Sowa, these functions show why semantics can be considered a guide to how we learn syntax: “First, children associate words with concrete concepts used in perceiving the world and acting upon it. Next, they learn syntactic rules for mapping concepts […]

23 Apr Form and Substance in Communication

Substance and Form

Form vs. Substance If the substance is H2O, the form may be solid ice, liquid water or gaseous steam. What about language? We’ve talked about different language phenomena, including spoken, written and digitally stored language. Is the medium the form and the content the substance of language, or is there more? Saussure, a founder of the European flavor of structural […]

22 Apr Breaking Down Language Structure and Function

Communication Functions

Grammar Acquisition Some experts suggest that a correctly formulated adult grammar is acquired by children on the basis of sentences they hear in their first few years (Pinker, 1984, p. 5). The proponents of this theory assume that a young child perceives sentence structure or is able to detect elements of grammatical structure – a […]

19 Apr Learning by Doing or Active Osmosis

Thinking Before Speaking

Intuition When people use their native language, they don’t usually think about how verbs are supposed to be conjugated. They don’t stop to figure out number agreement, transitivity, or aspect. They just talk. Intuitions about language are probably not based on the grammar rules that govern how parts of speech go together. Instead, these intuitions […]

18 Apr Irrational Language Rules

Chess Horse

Language and Utterances Now let’s narrow the focus from communication to language. To avoid confusion, let it be clear from the outset that this discussion is not concerned with computer-programming languages, but “natural languages.” Computer languages have built-in or “prescriptive” regularity called a formal syntax. They are easy to describe, and they are obedient to […]