Re: c.d.theory glossary

From: Timothy J. Bruce <>
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 06:19:13 GMT
Message-ID: <Bnohc.1298$>

mAsterdam et al:

> What I'ld like to see, getting serious in a pleasurable way, is going to
> take a whole lot more than just a little glossary.
What would be useful would be an actual, honest-to-goodness lexicon, which is no small task. If you would like to learn more about lexicography I can enlist the aid of a linguist, but I must again warn you the task exceeds even the Labours of Heracles.

The problem of poor nomeclature is we computer scientists inherited poor nomenclature from the mathematicians.

At one time English had the word (west saxon actually) `craftspræch'. English long ago abandoned this word, which was only recently replaced by `jargon'. Obviously English performed just fine for centuries while lacking such a word, but only by either using an entire sentance to paraphrase what once was a single word, or by overloading another word. It is this overloading which currently has us in trouble.

What is an entity? Like the joke about geriatrics, the answer is `depends'. Entity in E/R diagramming means one thing, sort of. Entity in a UML event diagram means something completely different, sort of. We do not need a lexicon that lists all 57 flavours of `entity', but instead lists a different lexeme for each sense of `entity'. We require a one lexeme per concept ratio to be observed.

English morphology uses a vowel shift to differentiate the verb and noun forms of the word `project', `record', `object', et cetera. Most English speakers are aware of this only tacitly, which is a great hinderance towards a unified vocabulary that overloads lexemes.

The dificulties of overloaded and nebulous computing lexemes which may differ only in spoken form is magnifed further when translation becomes an issue. This subject is a massive volume in its own right, but is relevent here, and should be explored further. Suffice it to say the rules are different for Spanish, Persian, and German when it comes to loanwords.

While English may seem to be the de facto standard for computing (when was the last time you conjugated a CommonDialog control?), and I do have dificulty even imagining a programming environment that was agglutinative for example, English may actually be a de jour standard, as evidenced by thriving practicioners in both Europe and Asia. This implies if we, as a community, do not standardize our craftspræch immediately the problems of confusion and misunderstanding will only grow worse.

What does this have to do with the poor nomenclature above? I never hear doctors disagree on what a `rectal fistula' could possibly be.

The following links should provide fruitful:

> Thank you for your concern.
It is we who owe ewe.

Still hopeful,
Timothy J. Bruce
</RANT> Received on Wed Apr 21 2004 - 08:19:13 CEST

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