Re: Special difficulties of AI terminology

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Tue Feb 19 2002 - 17:45:29 MST

> Well, my first reaction to this was to laugh and say, "I give up!" Some days
> you just can't win...
> On reflection, though, I think that there are two dynamics here. Anyone who
> wants to think precisely will need to use precise terminology. So if you're a
> bad writer and you want to think precisely, you use complete neologisms -
> arbitrary, hard to remember or identify once you're a few pages out of
> context. Good writing practice is to minimize this impact by adapting
> existing terms where possible, and using recognizable word combinations where
> a genuinely new term is needed. So it's preferable - in terms of being able
> to think clearly and reason clearly - to use neologisms rather than not have
> any new words at all, but it's also preferable to use recognizable language
> rather than pure neologisms.

Well, yes, using familiar words helps, but you don't want to risk re-
defining an existing term in a way that conflicts with the ordinary
understanding of its use in a similar context. To return to my example
of poker terms, the term "drawing dead" nicely evokes familiar images and
feelings that help make the term easier to understand, even though no real
"drawing" is taking place (in a stud game or hold'em game, for example),
and nothing is actually dying. But it is far preferable to define and use
the short evocative term like "drawing dead" than to constantly be saying
things like "...holding a speculative hand which you hope will improve
with forthcoming cards, but which might lose even if it does improve",
and there is little chance of the term being confusing.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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