RE: Machen Revisited

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Fri Sep 19 1997 - 09:18:32 EDT

At 08:46 AM 9/19/97 -0400, Randy Leedy wrote:
>I will also take issue with Clayton's statement that Greek is not an
>L-R language. I am sure that skilled readers of Koine Greek did not
>jump around in their sentences any more than we jump around in
>sentences in our own language.

Reading a sentence (which humans do) is very different from parsing a
sentence (which computers do). Humans understand the semantics and
pragmatics of what they read. Computers don't. Many aspects of sentence
meaning may not be derived purely from the form of the sentence. Consider
Chomsky's classic example:

1. Time flies like an arrow.
2. Fruit flies like a banana.

Unless a parser knows about fruit flies, it can't know that "flies" in
example 2 is not a verb. What about this example:

3. Fruit flies like an arrow.

What does this mean? To a linguist, it obviously refers to the classic
examples 1 and 2, which are well known - but only to linguists. To the rest
of us, it is nonsense. But how is a computer to know that 1 and 2 are not
nonsense, but 3 is?


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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