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Unambiguous languages (was: EU allumettes)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 4, 2004, 5:36
On Monday, May 3, 2004, at 04:06 PM, And Rosta wrote:

> Ray: >> On Sunday, May 2, 2004, at 02:22 PM, And Rosta wrote: >> [snip] >>> I was thinking rather that since this hypothetical EU language would >>> be for official & legalistic use, it might as well confer the >>> additional boon of being unambiguous, in which case some kind of >>> amalgam of several dozen European languages would be quite the >>> wrong way to go about it.
I agree the amalgam of several dozen European languages is not going to produce an unambiguous language; indeed, there already exist more than enough such amalgams.
>> But isn't this precisely what 18th century conlangers like Dalgarno & >> Wilkins thought & aimed for. > > No AFAIK. I may be wrong, but I thought their main desire was for > a common scholarly language that, perhaps as a beneficial byproduct, > systematized enlightenment knowledge.
Let Dalgarno speak for himself: "About twenty years ago I published....a Synopsis of a Philosophical Grammar and Lexicon, thereby showing a way to remedy the difficulties and absurdities which all languages are clogged with ever since the Confusion, or rather the Fall, by cutting off all anomaly, taking away all ambiguity and equivocation, contracting the primitives (primary words) to a few number, and even those not to be of a mere arbitrary, but a rational institution, enlarging the bounds of derivation and composition, for the cause both of copia and emphasis. In a word, designing not only to remedie the confusion of language, by giving a much more easie medium of communication than any yet known, but also to cure even Philosophy itself of the disease of Sophisms and Logomachies."
>> Fortunately, neither of their conlangs, nor any other similar 'logical, >> philosophic' conlangs of the time caught on. Now 3 centuries later, we >> see that their philosophy & logic was a wee bit mistaken. > > To me they're no better or worse than your average IAL
They were engelangs - rather different from the usual auxlangs encountered on that other list.
> (all of which > are worse than your average natlang). If, though, you are right that > they aimed for unambiguity, then I'd count that as a big plus in > their favour.
They surely aimed for unambiguity.
>> But if unambiguity is the aim, there's always Classical Yiklamu ;)
I thought an aim of CY was to maximize unambiguity (as far as it's humanly possible). Am i mistaken?
>> [snip] >>> to an equal degree. The one wholly official language would merit >>> its status by virtue of its superior qualities of unambiguity >>> (superior for its legalistic purposes), >> >> I fear this is like looking for a chimaera. > > Politically, of course. But not linguistically. I think it is > instructive to realize that a language that has the expressive > capabilities of a natlang but that is unambiguous is > linguistically achievable.
Doesn't lojban attempt to achieve this? Isn't Livagian meant to be an attempt to achieve this or have I misunderstood its aims? Hasn't this been attempted many times over the past three hundred years or so? Ray =============================================== (home) (work) =============================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


John Cowan <cowan@...>
Mark P. Line <mark@...>
And Rosta <a.rosta@...>