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Re: Redundancy + Ambiguity = What? (+ another question)

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 2, 2008, 17:34
On Tue, Sep 2, 2008 at 8:37 AM, Veoler <veoler@...> wrote:
> Redundancy + Ambiguity = What? > > There have been some talking about redundancy, and sometimes about the > naturalness of ambiguity in a naturalistic conlang. But that got me thinking, > shouldn't they have "opposite effects", so to say?
They're orthogonal; you might can increase or decrease either without perhaps directly affecting the other, as long as you allow other variables to vary in response (e.g., average morpheme length).
> Notice how it have ambiguity, since all words are polysemous. But the > language does also have redundancy, since it only uses four of nine possible > syllables. Is this a realistic picture of a natlang?
I would guess that that degree of redundancy is unlikely to occur in a natlang.
> Imagine now language B, a hypothetical(?) engelang:
> Notice how both the polysemy and the redundancy are removed. > > Now, do the lack of redundancy makes B inferior to A, in actual use? They > both have nine concepts on nine possible words. The possible mishearing in > language B is compensated with the lack of polysemy.
In this case I think it mostly is, because the alternate words a word could be turned into by a mishearing are mostly in other distributional categories from the intended word.
> I want my engelang to have the redundancy of a natural language, but, > considering the complete lack of polysemy (on morpheme level), do I need it?
To some extent, yes.
> Another question is: do regularity increase the need for redundancy?
I'm not sure.
> I want my engelang to have the same degree of redundancy as the average > natlang, and be fit for real use, but exactly how much redundancy is that? > There was talk about not having any minimal pairs in the language a while > back, but is that degree of redundancy really needed?
I would guess that "no minimal pairs at all" is more redundancy than most languages need; but "no minimal pairs within the same distributional category" is perhaps a reasonable design criterion for an engelang. "No minimal pairs" makes sense for a language designed for a noisy environment. -- Jim Henry