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   RE: Inheritance in XML

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  • From: "James K. Tauber" <jtauber@jtauber.com>
  • To: <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 17:46:47 +0800

> [James Tauber:]
> | Perhaps you misunderstand what I mean by "behaviour". I am referring
> | to how the content will be display and how it will respond to events
> | like clicking.
> I am, too.  I am saying that at the machine level, behavior (or
> appearance) *is* meaning.  The meaning of something is the way it
> makes the machine behave.  That's all there is, there ain't no more.

So why not call it behaviour?

> But that further level of meaning you're reaching for is meaning for
> humans, not meaning for the machine.  And right now and for the
> forseeable future, that level of meaning can be conveyed only by
> natural language.

Regardless of how it is expressed, that is what I mean by semantics.

> The meaning of "PatientName" to a machine is the
> set of behaviors it is supposed to exhibit when presented with
> something identified as such.  The meaning of "PatientName" to you and
> me is something that involves a knowledge of what a patient is and
> what a name is, and (more to the point) why and under what
> circumstances we should care what happens to the person with that
> name, and (even more to the point) what the relationship is between
> all these symbols and the actually existent physical object they refer
> to.  We can say all this in prose, but not in a way that will be
> interpretable by machines for a long time.

I dont' think whether or not it can be machine representable has anything to
do with it.

It sounds like you are saying:

my word 'semantics' = meaning to a human (place in ontology, etc)
my word 'behaviour' = meaning to a machine (appearance, etc)

ALL I AM ASKING FOR is a distinction between the two. The word semantics
seems the best to apply to the former. Behaviour is my word for the latter
simply because style/appearance doesn't adequately cover event handling. I
think we agree that a distinction exists. I just happen to think semantics
is a perfectly good word for describing the first but not necessarily the

Reader (to author): what does it mean when something is in blue?
Author: it means it's a PatientName.
Reader: what is a PatientName?
Author: it means something in blue.

For those of you who haven't already guessed, I'm a linguist by training.
Perhaps I'm trying to project too much of a formal linguistic view on this


James Tauber / jtauber@jtauber.com
Perth, Western Australia
XML Pages: http://www.jtauber.com/xml/

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