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First, my post was intended to be (semi) humerous. That said, I'll continue my tirade a little further.

I understand what the phrase and the pairing of the two phrases is meant to demonstrate. However, I would have to say that I think that understanding is derived and consequently artificial.

Take the second phrase. "Fruit flies like a banana" and your two interpretations of it.

  1. A type of insects called fruit flies that like a banana (so 'like' is used a a verb).

    Can you really relate to anyone actually using that phrase to achieve that meaning?

    I know we might say that "People like a drink", where the singular usage "a drink" does not imply that they only like one, but "Fruit flies like a banana"?

    They might say "Fruit flies like bananas".

  2. A kind of fruit that flies like a banana. ('flies' used a verb and 'like' as a conjunction).

    Hmm. A banana is fruit. Soooo, fruit flies like fruit?

    But fruit doesn't fly. It falls. I can be thrown. And if you put it on an aeroplane, it can be flown somewhere.

    I seriously doubt that either an ornithologist or an aerospace engineer would recognise any of those situations as being "flight".

    About the best interpretation of "Fruit flies like a banana", related to flight, that I can come up with is that:

    Like bananas, fruit doesn't fly.

    Something along the lines of "Flies like a lead ballon", but if that's the meaning that is being conveyed, then the latter is a much better way of conveying it.

I guess the point I am making is that both phrases are tortuously derived to make the point that natural language processing is hard--but neither are exactly "natural language".

It's a bit like saying that you cannot make a return trip to the Sun, so therefore space travel, whilst not impossible, is totally unworthwhile. Or building a bridge across the Atlantic is practically impossible, therefore building bridges is a waste of time.

If you set the goals (for anything) artificially high, then you can render the problem insoluble.

There are many problems that are generically insoluble in practical time frames, but that doesn't prevent partial solutions to subsets of the generic problem being used every day to good effect.


Examine what is said, not who speaks.
"Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
"Think for yourself!" - Abigail

In reply to Re: Re: Re: The (futile?) quest for an automatic paraphrase engine by BrowserUk
in thread The (futile?) quest for an automatic paraphrase engine by dimar

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