On 24 February 2011 01:15, Richard O'Keefe <o...@cs.otago.ac.nz> wrote:
> This is the same Naur who wrote
>
>        I cannot help expressing a feeling of awkwardness at the use of
>        the word language in the context "programming language."
>        I definitely feel that if taken literally this habit of expression
>        is misleading.
>        As a first step to subdue our feeling of guilt at this misuse of
>        the term, perhaps we can remind ourselves that logicians and
>        mathematicians used the word for specialized notations long before
>        we did, already in the 1930's, and perhaps even before.
>        ...
>        Several of the social aspects of mathematics and natural languages
>        show a meaningful analogy with similar aspects of programming 
> languages.
>        It therefore makes sense to extrapolate the analogy to further such
>        aspects.

Thanks.  That could almost be a missing conclusion to the end of that essay.

> Someone who uses language to tell us something is by his actions
> *denying* that meaning is a personal matter, for if it were so, he
> might as well expect the same outcome from grunting and scratching
> his chest.

No his point isn't as extreme.  Just that that meaning isn't in the
words, or in the world, but in our heads.  Cognitive linguists such as
George Lakoff, Lawrence Barsalou and Peter Gärdenfors would agree.
Language then isn't a direct transferral of meaning, but far messier
than that, as whatever you say will be interpreted within a rather
different frame of reference.  From the preface of Computing: A human
activity, explaining the motivation for the anthology:

  "... in order to grasp the ideas, the opinions, the points of view,
etc., of another person it is not sufficient, or even necessary, to
understand or accept a definite set of themes or notions.  Rather,
what is required is that we are exposed to a full and varied
expression of that person, related to many different issues of
concern. By being thus exposed we may hope to recognize how the
patterns of the other person's ideas, opinions, points of view, partly
match, partly extend those we have ourselves already.  This manner of
gaining insight into and learning from another person may well be a
slow development, requiring repeated readings of the person's writing
and months of years of digestion."

Perhaps you prove him right by adding that nuance to his point of view above :)

alex

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