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Re: Is this right? Not yet, but keep trying!

I've been making a (not very determined) effort to learn a bit of Lojban,
but this message is certainly off-putting.  If you have to express that
"This is not a home for Brad"

	from winter 91 until spring 91


	ca le temci be le dunra be li 91 bei le vensa be li 91

then this is ridiculously long (at least, for native English
speakers), and is going to get contracted.  You can be sufficiently
precise in any language if you just use enough words.  Since the whole
point of Lojban is to be precise and unambiguous, something is wrong
if description of a simple time interval requires this many words.  I
have no doubt that anyone "really" speaking Lojban would find a
shorter, if less precise, way of expressing this idea.

BTW, I have done some work in the use of time intervals in artifical
intelligence, and might be able to help some if you want precise ways
of describing relationships between intervals (e.g. the interval that
Brad is not here and the interval of winter to spring).  Someone else
would have to supply the Lojban words, though.

The most widely used scheme for describing the relationship of two
intervals is James Allen's.  He defines the 13 possible exact
relationships of two intervals.

I've invented some schemes that are simpler when the relationship of
the intervals is incompletely known, e.g. if you know one interval
overlaps the other, but you don't know which interval started first or
which ended first.  I'd use the above sentence fragment as an example,
but I don't know what it means; the translation back into English was
given as

	during the time-interval from the winter of year 91 to the
	spring of year 91

which sounds to me like a zero-length interval, since spring begins when
winter ends.  Which of these is the intent?  How much is known?


1.	|---------------------------------------------|
				(all winter and all spring)

2.              |---------------------|
				(sometime in winter to sometime in spring)

3.	|----------------------|
				(exactly during the winter)

4.	|---------------------------------|
				(all winter and part of spring)

Or something else?  Perhaps the Lojban is precise on this, and it is
simply the translation back into English that is ambiguous; I don't
know enough Lojban to tell.  All the English tells me is that Brad
will not be here at some point during the winter.  If the Lojban is
equally ambiguous, then it seems to me that it fails in its primary
goal, in addition to being too wordy.

BTW, a distinction should be made between a statement that is
ambiguous because it's intent cannot be discerned (as above), and one
that is merely incomplete, because it deliberately conveys partial
knowledge (e.g. "sometime in winter to sometime in spring").


-- Dave Matuszek (dave@prc.unisys.com)
-- Unisys Corp. / Paoli Research Center / PO Box 517 / Paoli PA  19301
-- Any resemblance between my opinions and those of my employer is improbable.
< You can put a mouse on an IBM.  And you can put a radio on a motorcycle. >