Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Read(present) vs Read(past)

  1. Jul 16, 2013 #1
    We can distinguish between present "read" and past "read" in their pronunciation. I wonder how a computer knows the difference. :biggrin:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2013 #2
    Here's a sentence:

    "Yesterday I read 4 emails."

    You will not hear "read" pronounced as you read that sentence, but you'll know the difference from the context.
     
  4. Jul 16, 2013 #3

    SteamKing

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I read 4 emails.

    I read 4 emails.

    Which is which? Sometimes, even people aren't sure. I don't know why we would expect a computer to be able to distinguish between the two statements above.
     
  5. Jul 16, 2013 #4

    Ben Niehoff

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Both of these are past tense. For present tense, English uses the present progressive:

    "I am reading 4 emails."
     
  6. Jul 16, 2013 #5

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Well, how about this:

    What if I read all your emails? ("reed" meaning I am going to do it later today)

    What if I read all your emails? ("red" meaning I did it yesterday)

    Now we have future/past, but the same confusion.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  7. Jul 16, 2013 #6

    SteamKing

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Not always. English has multiple forms for each tense:
    1. There is the simple form: I read 4 emails. ['read' here is first person singular present tense.]
    2. There is the progressive form: I am reading 4 emails. ['am reading' is still first person singular present tense.]
    3. There is the emphatic form: I do read 4 emails. ['do read' likewise is first person singular present tense.]

    Similar constructions are found for the past and future tenses.

    For the first person singular form of the verb 'to read', the simple present and the simple past tenses have the same written form, although they are pronounced differently.
     
  8. Jul 16, 2013 #7

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I read you loud and clear, and I disagree. I never would say "I am reading you loud and clear."
     
  9. Jul 16, 2013 #8

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I'm still waiting for someone to answer post #5. :smile:
     
  10. Jul 16, 2013 #9

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Quite. It should be "I am reading you loudly and clearly." :smile:
     
  11. Jul 16, 2013 #10
    It's only confusing because it's incomplete, the tense of the homograph is DEPENDENT on it's context/pronunciation - you have provided neither with the isolated statement "What if I read all your emails?"
     
  12. Jul 16, 2013 #11

    SteamKing

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The first example is not future tense.
    In English, the future tense would be expressed by: "What if I shall read all your emails?"

    You can infer intent about when the reading takes place, but you can't take the sentence as is and parse the verb 'read' as future tense.
     
  13. Jul 16, 2013 #12
    Have you seen the books I read?
    - What about the books you read?

    "read" can easily be either reed/red in both cases
     
  14. Jul 16, 2013 #13
    It would be very unusual for this sentence to exist in isolation, without a context. Generally we, or a computer, would know the tense meant from the conversational context.
     
  15. Jul 16, 2013 #14

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Damn, there you go getting all reasonable on me :smile:

    I DO think that it's possible the context could be confusing enough that it would be tough for a computer (it COULD even be tough for a person).
     
  16. Jul 16, 2013 #15

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    You often see "Led", past tense of "Lead" ( go first) misspelled as "Lead" , I suppose because of the homonym for the dense metal element 82.

    Spellcheck misses that one too.
     
  17. Jul 16, 2013 #16
    So glad I didn't have to learn english as a second language :D
     
  18. Jul 16, 2013 #17

    Office_Shredder

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    jim, spell check doesn't know the context of the word, it just checks to see if it's a real word. Which 'lead' happens to be.

    You can do natural language processing to try and parse out tenses but it's a lot of work and examples like this are well known to be difficult to deal with
     
  19. Jul 16, 2013 #18
    Yeah, I certainly think it's possible to confuse a computer.

    I was at a coffeehouse a couple weeks ago and a guy was checking out his voice recognition ap on his phone: he had an ap that would convert what he spoke into the phone into a text. He was demonstrating to a friend the sort of mistake the software made when trying to deal with casual speech. It did make mistakes, but not as many as you'd think. Probably because you have the option to correct it, so it learns greater and greater accuracy vis a vis your particular speech.
     
  20. Jul 16, 2013 #19

    BobG

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I would never say neither (I only say neither).

    I would say "I read you five by five." Or "five by two" if the volume was fine but the voice quality nearly inaudible. Or "two by five" if the volume were so low I could barely hear your voice. Or say nothing if I read you "zero by five" (I wouldn't know you even asked).
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Read(present) vs Read(past)
  1. Past/Present?/Future (Replies: 23)

  2. Past Present and Future (Replies: 23)

  3. Reading backwards (Replies: 2)

  4. Reading to yourself (Replies: 20)

Loading...