Musing over Namespaces

Eve L. Maler elm at
Tue Dec 14 21:38:39 GMT 1999

There are cases where the same word/name has multiple meanings in different 
lexicons, but natural languages generally don't have a namespace-like 
mechanism for disambiguation.  The closest thing we probably have is the 
"in the XXX sense" construction, like "Are there any standards at this 
parade, in the 'banner' sense?"

If we did have namespace declarations and references in the course of a 
conversation, how would we ever be able to pun? :-)


At 09:24 PM 12/14/99 +0000, Steve Schafer wrote:
>On Tue, 14 Dec 1999 11:37:10 -0800, "Don Park" <donpark at>
> >"Why isn't there namespaces in normal languages like English?"
>There are most certainly namespaces in English. _Every_ trade and
>profession has its own terminology and jargon, which uses the same
>words used elsewhere but which have very context-specific
>Even when you restrict yourself to casual conversation, a milkshake in
>Boston is a very different thing from a milkshake in Los Angeles. In a
>London pub, a man might ask a woman who was getting up to leave, "Mind
>if I pinch your seat?" Saying the same thing in New York might result
>in him ending up on the floor.
>-Steve Schafer

Eve Maler            Sun Microsystems
elm @    +1 781 442 3190

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