SUO: Re: Foundations for ontology
In principle, you're right, but you are underestimating the extent
and variety of metaphor:
> The advantage is that most word have only a single basic
> meaning, and the application of metaphor is then assessed separately.
> Furthermore, I suggest there aren't overly many common metaphorical
Metaphor is one of the most important methods for adapting a finite
vocabulary to a potentially infinite number of meanings. However,
there is no limit to the variety of metaphorical extensions that
have been and are being made in the word senses.
There are other variations in which the basic meaning hasn't changed
very much, but the range of implications is so enormous that any
reasonable ontology (or dictionary definition) will have to take
the variations into account. Example: potato chips, chocolate chips,
and silicon chips. To say that the first word is a major component
of the chips isn't saying nearly enough to account for the differences
in the way the chips are manufactured and used.
And many metaphors are "frozen" into the meanings of words at such a
deep level that digging them out is a major exercise. For example,
the root meaning of 'invest' is to put on clothing. From that, we
get two metaphorical meanings: to surround a fortress and to put
money into some plan with hope of gain. (In Italian, the cognate
word 'investimento' also means traffic accident -- just another
metaphorical extension of the same root.)
Those exampls in the presentation were mostly taken from another paper.
For further discussion, see the article "Concepts in the lexicon":