Re: Comparison of philosophical languages
|From:||Joseph Fatula <fatula3@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 8:31|
From: "Andrew Nowicki" <andrew@...>
Subject: Re: Comparison of philosophical languages
> Andrew Nowicki wrote:
> AN> At present Ygyde's names of vegetables
> AN> are very similar:
> "H. S. Teoh" wrote:
> HTS> Which is precisely the problem.
> This is indeed the problem. There a millions of species
> of flora and fauna. No language can assign short and
> yet unique names to all those species. At present Ygyde
> uses only consonant-vowel root words (CV). If we
> add CVV root words, we can increase the number of root
> words to about one thousand. This kind of Ygyde would
> be similar to Chinese, I guess. The big question is
> whether we need so many root words. I hope not.
The problem isn't just flora and fauna. I know the names of dozens of
dishes, types of sports equipment, historical events, psychological terms,
not to mention terms from linguistics. Just about every category of
knowledge has hundreds of idiosyncratic terms that have to have a word in a
widely functional language.
> Ygyde performs well except for the names of flora and
> fauna. Most meanings of compound words can be guessed.
I disagree. Consider:
noun-good-person Saint? Kindly old man? Defined as "altruist".
noun-container-atom I haven't a clue. Defined as "aluminum".
proper-noun-wild-geological-separation The Rift Valley in Africa? Defined
as "South America".
noun-electric-unit Watt? Volt? Amp? Defined as "amp".
noun-cold-animal Penguin? Polar bear? Those little shrimp that live in
cold water? Any Arctic/Antarctic species? Defined as "amphibian".
noun-fast-warm-animal Horse? Buffalo? Defined as "antelope".
proper-noun-cold-random-country Norway? New Zealand? Defined as
noun-geological-angle Longitude? Latitude? Defined as "azimuth".
If you can't tell the meaning of the word from the components of the word,
then the meaning must be learned separately from the word itself.
In other words, some compounding roots have specialized meanings for body
parts. That's fine, but will these roots have specialized meanings for each
> HTS> It would be somewhat more acceptable if you have
> HTS> a suffix "-by" for vegetables, and have *divergent*
> HTS> prefixes to indicate different vegetables. (Cf.
> HTS> Mandarin, which has the "tsai4" suffix used in many
> HTS> vegetable names. But also keep in mind that the
> HTS> prefixes in these names have NOTHING in common with
> HTS> each other. That's the point. A different word
> HTS> must be unique enough the brain can keep a handle
> HTS> on it.)
> I agree. If we use suffix "-by" for food and impose
> very strict rules, we get 180 5-letter VCV-by words
> (at least 1 unique letter) and 180 7-letter VCVCV-by
> words (at least 2 unique letters). The only problem
> is that such names are arbitrary; we may get a name
> like "mathematical war food."
That's pretty much the kind of thing we already have with Ygyde.
> If nothing else works
> we can use other suffixes:
> -bi = anatomical part of a multicellular plant
> -pa = anatomical part of a multicellular animal
> -ke = soft solid
> -ky = rigid solid
> -fe = powder
> -ki = rod
> -fa = ball
> -wo = disk
> For example, carrot can be called "food rod" (obyki)
> and pancake can be called "food disk" (obywo).
Not at all. Here are some possible definitions of |obyki|.
stirring rod for drinks
any long handled instrument for working with food
Now, if you don't mind ambiguity, then this is fine. But I get the
impression that you want Ygyde to be an easy to learn language by virtue of
its meaning=form system.
> HTS> ... You want to either be completely, rigidly,
> HTS> taxonomic, which has been proven to be of little
> HTS> use; or you want to just have arbitrary words
> HTS> for each thing you want to name. But this not-here,
> HTS> not-there approach of arbitrarily assigning names
> HTS> to things will only cause Ygyde speakers to
> HTS> arbitrarily invent new words for things. Everyone
> HTS> will invent a different word for the same things,
> HTS> and Ygyde will diverge into mutually unintelligible
> HTS> dialects. Then there is no point of learning it at
> HTS> all---we might as well just stick with the natlangs
> HTS> that already exist.
> There is a third way: rather arbitrary names of flora
> and fauna and rather precise names of other things.
As mentioned above, the problem is not restricted to flora and fauna. All
other things run into this problem.
> Every living language evolves. Every technical field
> has its unique, evolving language. If a general purpose,
> spoken language is used as an auxiliary language, e.g.,
> Latin and Esperanto, its evolution can be controlled.
Its evolution _cannot_ be controlled. Take a look at disputes Esperantists
have over new forms and behaviors in Esperanto, and you'll see that no
organization controls the language. And that's a language that's only been
around for what, a century and a half? How would you control the language,
> If the auxiliary language does become a mother tongue,
> its evolution and possible divergence will be shaped
> by television.
Shaped by television? That, and every other means of communication,
> AN> Basic ideas and technical names have no reason to
> AN> drift into idiosyncrasies.
> HTS> Umm... have you ever realized that the one part
> HTS> about different natlangs that is the MOST different
> HTS> from every other natlang, even those with common
> HTS> ancestors, is precisely in the area of *basic ideas*?
> "Milk," "mother," "is," and a few other words sound similar
> in all Indo-European languages. This seems to prove that
> names of basic ideas do not change.
Are you sure about this? Here are "milk" and "mother" in a few
Which makes me wonder where you're getting this idea. I imagine that you've
been exposed to a few, like "mater" or "Mutter", but let me assure you,
that's not always the way it works.
> HTS> Think about it... given a passage in an unknown
> HTS> European language, what are the words that are most
> HTS> immediately recognizable? Words like "technology",
> HTS> "democracy", "analysis", etc., which are basically
> HTS> *loanwords* derived from ancestor languages.
> Yes. Technology and television are melting pots of
But only for the terms borrowed. If we met up with an alien race who had
some strange method of transportation, and they called it "bryethknai", we
might borrow that into English as "briethken". But our word for "star"
would still be different than theirs.
> HTS> If Ygyde is going to have these kinds of arbitrary
> HTS> terms for things, then it has completely lost any
> HTS> value it may have had as an international language.
> HTS> We might as well stick with English, since English
> HTS> is understood by the most people on this planet,
> HTS> and it is ALREADY recognized as an international
> HTS> language for communication.
> English is hard to beat, but it does show signs of weakness.
> New names, e.g., insurance salesman, hard disk, suicide
> bomber, are long and awkward.
Agreed. All languages have weaknesses. And that's part of why they change
> Some English words are
> not easy to pronounce. Although I am a fluent English
> speaker, I can hardly pronounce word "prototype."
> Ygyde is better at coining new compound words and its
> long version is easy to pronounce.
That depends on who you're talking to. I'm an English speaker, and used to
short words with a high consonant density. I find long, highly vocalic
words to be rather difficult to pronounce. Each individual syllable is
easy, but the end result is like a tongue twister, as the brain confuses
which syllable has what components.
And the majority of the people in the world would say that Ygyde has too
many vowel sounds that make it hard to tell words apart from each other.
> I do not know Chinese,
> but I guess that it may be good at coining new words too.
> Too bad it is so hard to pronounce.
Again, it depends on who you're talking to. I find most of Chinese quite
easy to pronounce.
> Ygyde has serious
> problems with flora and fauna, but other languages
> have the same problem, so biologists avoid common names.
> The big problem with vegetables is that they are going to
> be manipulated by genetic engineering.
I'm not so sure about that.
> For example, there
> may be a new veggie which is a cross between potato and
By virtue of being unusual, it might never become accepted.
> Its name must be arbitrary! There is a similar
> problem with optical memory disks -- every few years there
> is a new kind of disk which does not differ much from the
> previous one.
> AN> Television, Internet, fast food chains, and
> AN> globalization may prevent idiosyncrasies.
> HTS> This is ridiculously myopic. The Internet does NOT
> HTS> prevent idiosyncrasies; it actually *accentuates*
> HTS> differences even more. Global communications only
> HTS> mean that now it's easier for different people to
> HTS> find different cliques that they fit into. Eventually,
> HTS> they will no longer need to adapt themselves to
> HTS> people around them who are different from them; they
> HTS> will just go online and find people who are different
> HTS> the way they are. The result is, people will fragment
> HTS> into small tightly-knit communities of like-minded
> HTS> people. And you *bet* each of these groups will
> HTS> develop so much of their own idiosyncrasies that you
> HTS> won't be able to understand them.
> What they make are not idiosyncrasies of the general
> purpose language, but specialized extensions of the
> language. Every technical field does the same thing.
> The English computer terms are very similar to Polish
> and Russian computer terms.
True, but English and Polish are not mutually intelligible. If Ygyde is
intended to be a whole language family whose speakers cannot understand each
other, then English and Polish are good examples.