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   Re: [xml-dev] W3C Schema: Resistance is Futile, says Don Box

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W. E. Perry scripsit:

> Your reminders above are useful for one who chooses to employ a gDate
> process for instantiating a date from the attribute value "-43-03-13". I
> see other infelicities with using that particular form of markup if the
> instance is to be processed by widely useful general purpose tools, but
> that is not the primary issue here.

Is that because you secretly believe that content should be interpretable
based on its mere lexical appearance after all?  Certainly nothing in
the form "-44-3-13" tells you it's a date, but nothing in the
form "7/4/1776" tells you it's a date either.

> The element content itself (the ides of
> March, 710 A.U.C.) if instantiated as a date by an accurate application of
> the AUC process as redefined by Caesar himself must yield a result of the
> fifteenth day of the third month of the 710th year.

I deny this.  Learning this fact doubtless is part of the instantiation
process, but need not be its endpoint.  Indeed, if we have trustworthy
annotations, we may never need to determine this at all.

> That is the point of
> units as a component of the lexical content which is to be instantiated
> with some particular semantics. If the units are to be given the semantic
> expression generally expected, then those semantics will be elaborated
> through an algorithmic process--a reckoning--which yields semantics
> predicated on the chosen units. Converting inches to centimeters with a
> coefficient of 2.54 is such a process. Performing the resolution of an AUC
> date as prescribed by Caesar is another. Resolving a date from lexical
> content by the operation of a gDate algorithm is a different process.

A different process, yes, but need it yield a different product?

> Resolved as a date on one simple
> reading of its own terms (i.e., AUC) the element content yields a result
> which is unquestionably the 15th of March. Resolved as a date through the
> execution of a gDate process the attribute value yields the 13th.

But it's bogus to privilege the first over the second, as if the text itself
had some sort of native viewpoint.

> A process which yields any other date
> than the 15th in this instance cannot legitimately be considered an AUC
> process, or more exactly a process elaborating AUC semantics.

There is no AUC semantics.  There is only date semantics, with various
calendars expressing the method of transforming an abstract syntax of
{day, month, year} into the semantics.

> I apologize if this seems like nitpicking or if my point appears nearly
> invisible. It is not. Redoing two centuries of scholarship in philology
> (and reversing the implicit semantic understandings of twenty previous
> centuries) has amply demonstrated that a carefully articulated progress
> from the lexical to the objectified is necessary once we understand the
> difference between a text and its instantiated semantic elaborations. 

To out-Lacan Lacan, "there is no such thing as the text".  Whatever purports
to be the text is invariably an instantiation.

(This, BTW, is my beef with deconstructionists, at least the ones I have
met on the net: they at the same time want to claim that "nothing exists
outside the text" and then talk about contradictions between what a text
says and the circumstances of its production.  But if the text is really
all there is, then it has no meaning whatever, and claims about contradiction
are as meaningful as to say that Minsk is the opposite of Pinsk.)

John Cowan <jcowan@reutershealth.com>     http://www.reutershealth.com
I amar prestar aen, han mathon ne nen,    http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
han mathon ne chae, a han noston ne 'wilith.  --Galadriel, _LOTR:FOTR_


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