On 4/6/07, Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I don't think I expressed myself clearly enough. What
> I'm suggesting, for example, is that an IAL doesn't
> need to have one word for "grasp" and another for
> "understand". The same word can serve both purposes.
> Or for example, "head" can be the same word as
> "chief". I anticipate that people will protest that
> this will lead to a lot of ambiguity, and it might,
> but I still think that having a small vocabulary is a
> better choice, even if it involves a loss of
> specificity.

If you apply metaphors moderately, the ambiguity probably wouldn't
cause much problem. You could disambiguate "head" by the context.
Whenever the context is not enough, the message sender could apply
compounding to disambiguate: "headperson" ("chief") X "personhead" ("a
piece of the human body").

Your example reminds me of "capital city" and "cattle", both of which
are etymologically related to the Latin words "capitalis" and "caput".
And in Portuguese we use "cabeša" ("head") to specify "cattle".

Metaphors and metonymies are extensively used in natlangs to the point
that many of them cease to be metaphors/metonymies. Maybe it does not
mean that an IAL should have the same thing, but it probably means
that metaphors are inherent to human cognition and thus they would be
included in the IAL vocabulary anyway. Should the IAL designer
encourage this process? I leave this question open.

Antonielly Garcia Rodrigues