VAT: Mary had a little lamb

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” is the name of a 19th century nursery rhyme familiar to most American children. A simple rhyme, yet befuddling to computer systems trying to understand language.

Objectively, what does it mean that Mary had a little lamb? Does it mean that Mary had a pet lamb; that Mary had a small vagina; that Mary had sex with a lamb; that Mary ate a little lamb; or all of the foregoing?

It’s a matter of context and relationship. In the context of a children’s rhyme, it’s clear that Mary had a pet lamb. In the context of dinner with friends, it’s clear that Mary ate a little lamb. In terms of relationship, Mary’s father would say Mary had a pet lamb; Mary’s boyfriend, depending on how he’s built, might say Mary had a small vagina; Mary’s kinky friends might talk about her interest in bestiality, sex with a lamb. Computer systems have a difficult time understanding context and relationship; maybe we do as well.