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Re: [ontac-forum] A potential defining vocabulary for definitions

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Peter P. Yim" <peter.yim@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2005 16:57:27 -0700
Message-id: <43519767.2080303@xxxxxxxx>
Thank you, Pat.    (01)

Are we inviting the group to propose other candidates?    (02)

In addition to your    (03)

(a) defining vocabulary from the Longman Dictionary of 
Contemporary English (LDOCE) - suggested: PatCassidy/2005.10.15    (04)

The immediate ones that come to mind would be:    (05)

(b) the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and    (06)

(c) Wordnet (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/)    (07)

It would be nice for those in the community who has working 
knowledge of the above (plus whatever other candidates) to 
present the pros and cons of each, and debate on which should be 
adopted. ... Please.    (08)

Regards.  =ppy
--    (09)

Cassidy, Patrick J. wrote Sat, 15 Oct 2005 18:59:59 -0400:
> ONTACWG members:
> I have placed a file containing the defining vocabulary from the Longman 
> Dictionary of Contemporary English (LDOCE) in the reference folder at:
> This is the set of words (about 2200) used by Longman to define all of 
> the 56,000 words and phrases in its dictionary.  That dictionary is 
> intended to be understandable by those learning English, and the editors 
> made a conscious effort to write clearly understandable definitions 
> using the minimum vocabulary.  Many of the words are used in more than 
> one sense, as with words that have multiple parts of speech; the actual 
> number of senses used may be more than 4000.  This is an example of the 
> practice of specifying the meanings of terms or concepts using a 
> relatively small set of defining concepts.  This is analogous to the 
> process by which we hope the Common Semantic Model (COSMO) will enable 
> semantic interoperability of knowledge-based systems built by different 
> groups, by providing a common conceptual defining vocabulary that will 
> be independent of the terms used in community knowledge classification 
> systems, but capable of precisely specifying the meanings of the 
> community terms..
> The Longman defining vocabulary could also serve as a starting point for 
> the development of an English defining vocabulary for ONTACWG, which 
> could be used to make it easier to create logically precise definitions, 
> and assertions of fact.  There are several  "Controlled English" 
> programs that have been used to make logical statements in an 
> English-like grammar.  If we have a vocabulary of words with precisely 
> defined meanings, it should be possible to allow definitions to be 
> phrased in normal but moderately restricted English, and be interpreted 
> correctly by the translator program.  Some ambiguity in the defining 
> vocabulary should be resolvable by the lexical context, but it is 
> possible that the full range of meanings actually used in the LDOCE will 
> be too wide to be resolvable, and the "defining vocabulary" or the 
> grammar for defining terms in ONTACWG databases may need to be more 
> restricted than the language the editors of LDOCE use.
> As with the COSMO, an English "Defining vocabulary" would be open to 
> additions as required to accommodate the needs of the different 
> communities.  It will always be convenient for specialized communities 
> to use terms with specific meanings in their contexts of interest, 
> including very technical terms.  If those terms themselves could be 
> defined by both the logical specifications of the COSMO and the 
> restricted vocabulary of an ONTACWG "English defining vocabulary", they 
> would constitute specialized extensions of the COSMO and English 
> vocabularies.  Then natural English definitions even in those technical  
> areas could be created with accurately interpretable meanings.
> Attempting to create definitions of community-specific terms using such 
> a defining vocabulary could help to recognize when the logical concept 
> inventory of the COSMO is inadequate and needs supplementation, if it 
> becomes necessary to use English terms that have no associated concept 
> in the COSMO.  Prima facie cases like that could allow domain 
> specialists with only modest familiarity with the COSMO to help the 
> maintenance team to decide which extensions should have greatest 
> priority.  Simple tools like a spell-checker using only the defining 
> vocabulary as its dictionary would help in using that vocabulary for 
> creating precise definitions.
> It is likely that similar controlled natural language vocabularies and 
> grammars could be created for other languages, but I myself have no 
> acquaintance with such work.
> To use an existing controlled-language system to create definitions for 
> the ONTACWG would require adaptation of such a system to reference the 
> COSMO ontology.  This may take considerable effort, so it will probably 
> be necessary to find projects that are ongoing and for which someone who 
> is familiar with the system will be able to spend some time doing the 
> adaptation.  If any ONTACWG members are acquainted with such a project, 
> perhaps an inquiry to the developers would provide us with information 
> to determine the feasibility of adaptation in each case.  I will be 
> happy to participate in discussions of such a possibility.  Feel free to 
> send suggestions to me directly, or to the list.
> Pat
> Patrick Cassidy
> MITRE Corporation
> 260 Industrial Way
> Eatontown, NJ 07724
> Mail Stop: MNJE
> Phone: 732-578-6340
> Cell: 908-565-4053
> Fax: 732-578-6012
> Email: pcassidy at mitre.org
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