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[_] Does programming seem artistic to you? (was: Is programming art?)

Steve Roome steve at
Wed Jul 6 17:14:14 BST 2005

I'm currently reading "the structure of magic (II)" which goes into a
lot of detail on sentences (mostly in the context of therapy) but much
of it is on badly formed sentences that do not accurately specify the
intended semantics. Apologies for the terminology borrowed from
there. Some of it is based on work by kyzybyskit (?!) and other stuff
from chomsky et al.

On Wed, Jul 06, 2005 at 04:19:11PM +0100, Christian Wach wrote:

> On 6 Jul 2005, at 15:34, Steve Roome wrote:
> >On Wed, Jul 06, 2005 at 03:03:40PM +0100, Christian Wach wrote:
> >>On 6 Jul 2005, at 14:45, Steve Roome wrote:
> >>
> >>>Fixing the deletions in the sentences is useful, but trying to use
> >>>only the most accurate form of the noun phrase is anal.
> >>
> >>Er, could you rephrase that? ;)
> >
> >1) Fixing the deletions in the sentence is useful:
> >
> >In the A sentences there are components of the sentences left
> >unspecified or removed altogether (count the number of arguments for
> >each verb), the reader/listener is expected to fill these in.
> I'd agree with you - but not in the sense that there is too little
> information to make sense of the phrase. The author leaves him/herself
> out of the statement.
> >What the reader/listener fills the empty gaps in with may or may not
> >be semantically equivalent to the intended message, as such to aid
> >communication the author would suggest that we specify everything
> >precisely.
> I'd disagree with you - as I see it, the author urges that the utterance
> include the utterer... in the same sense that the Schrödinger's Cat
> experiment compels the experimenter to acknowledge their role in the
> experiment.

In the case of eprime and my examples you may have a point here,
although to me, it still reads as though many of the examples look to
be filling in information in B that was left unspecified in the A

> >2) trying only to use the most accurate form of the noun phrase is
> >anal.
> >
> >e.g.
> >
> >Q. Do you have a car?
> >
> >A1. I have one.
> >
> >Car replaced with something non specific, listener has to work it out
> >from context and may get it wrong, although that's unlikely in this
> >case.
> Is this relevant? E-Prime excludes 'is-of-identity' phrases, not 'have-
> of-ownership' ones, although it could be argued that framing your
> relationship with objects in that way could lead to equally dangerous
> belief-systems. AFAIR, Hindi has no verb 'to have' - a woman will say
> "three children are near me" instead of "I have three children". In no
> way does this diminish the love she may feel for them. It may even
> enrich it. Erich Fromm wrote an entire book contrasting 'to have'
> and 'to be' as mind-sets. You can guess which one he favoured in the
> interests of mental health...

Mostly Eprime seems to me to clear up the sentence be rearranging
around the syntactic pivot. This happens at the same time the removal
of "to be". However removing all "to be"'s where we can assume a
reasonably similar level of a priori concepts for each reader/listener
was the bit that seemed anal.

i.e. This is a good idea (0) => This is a good idea to me. (1)

whereas E-prime would go (at least) so far as :

In my system of metaphysics (2a) I classify this idea as good. (2)

In (1) "to me" does just as well as the words up to 2a in 2.

"Me" in the first transformed sentence is already specified well
enough, however it was omitted in 0.

E-prime has fixed the deletion/omition of "to me" and has specified
the arguments more precisely than in either 0, 1 or 2, however E-prime
will take it as far as 2, which is not generally useful when the
majority of english (not E-Prime) speakers will understand 1.

In fact, I don't beleive that 2 adds any semantic information to 1, as
conciousness is required to understand either sentence and "me" is
understood by almost all who have conciousness. (i.e. the reader has
to know what concepts of me and you are to have got this far.)

Anyway, I found this quite interesting :

> OK, I think I'll shut up too...

That was probably a good idea for me too!