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Re: Comparison of philosophical languages

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 6:22
On Mon, Jan 20, 2003 at 09:14:37PM +0100, Andrew Nowicki wrote:
> I believe that any language is merely a tool that should be discarded > when a better tool is found.
Very good. Just don't impose this on everyone else. Thanks.
> Any tool can be compared to other tools. I would like to know what > features of a general purpose spoken language are desirable.
And we've tried to point them out to you already, in spite of what seems to be selective ignorance of advice on your part. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
> Some programming languages are better than other programming languages. > Some spoken languages are better than other spoken languages. Some > systems of measures are better than other systems of measures. If we had > been talking about systems of measures I would certainly say that the > metric system is superb to other systems.
Relative to whose perspective? Why does the USA still use miles instead of kilometres? Why doesn't every country in the world standardize on the same unit of currency? Why don't all programmers write in Java instead of ugly hacks like C/C++ or that piece of sugar-coated 80's language known as VB? Why don't all Perl programmers switch to Python, since it's obviously superior? Why do you think that the previous two questions will provoke a massive flamewar, a LOT more vicious than this one will ever be, on certain mailing lists? "Better" or "worse" is relative to some perspective, which may not be shared by everyone. It is also relative to *utility*. Perl programmers like Perl, because it's the best _for them_. Python programmers like Python because it is best _for them_. There is no such thing as one size fits all. Nothing man-made, anyway.
> The flamers in this thread imply that we cannot compare languages. Just > because *they* cannot compare languages does not mean that languages > cannot be compared.
Compared how? There are many ways to compare languages. You can compare the syntax, you can compare the grammar, you can examine how each language approaches/solves a particular problem, etc.. But I'm sorry to inform you that solicitation is NOT comparison. Not the kind of comparison we are interested in on this list, anyway. Again, as other listmembers have said many times already, we ARE interested to know about how Ygyde works, we ARE interested to examine how it's built, etc.. But we are NOT interested in blatant soliciting.
> Some spoken languages, for example Japanese, resemble Ygyde and Ro in a > sense that they build compound words from short roots. Even the English > language has some of this ability: police-man, fire-man, work-man, > crafts-man, journey-man, milk-man, gentle-man, noble-man, water-man, > air-man, horse-man, herds-man, boat-man, cave-man, sky-man, country-man, > woods-man, trades-man, yeo-man, weather-man, gun-man, clergy-man, > house-man... Is it difficult to tell these words apart?
They are not. Do you know *why* they are not? It's because the first part of the word is *unique*, and *memorable*, and not a result of naive mapping to taxonomy. I've already said, and And Rosta has eloquently pointed out, that there is nothing wrong with having a "similar" element between related words, but you have to know that there is a difference between iconicity and taxonomic self-definition. Language simply does not work by taxonomic construction. It *does*, however, have a lot of iconicity, as you yourself have pointed out above. That's what we're trying to tell you, Andrew. Please stop taking scholarly critique as personal insults. You can take our advice, or ignore it -- Ygyde is your invention, and you can do whatever you want to it. But please at least have the courtesy to stop trying to sell it on this list. There are no buyers here. [snip]
> Another flaw of the English language is that a novice listening to a > fast speech cannot tell where one word ends and another word begins.
It's not a flaw. It's a natural optimization that happened amongst people that share a similar cultural background. Please take the time to study how languages work, before making grandiose statements like this which are blatantly myopic. You're only making a disgrace of yourself. And please stop mis-interpreting this as saying that we are not interested in comparing languages. We *are* interested in comparing languages; but there is a difference between scholarly comparison and a salesman putting down everybody else's wares. The former is an informed opinion, done with proper research. The latter is insulting, and often without proper basis in fact. I'm not trying to flame you here, but please answer this: have you actually studied how languages work? Have you ever researched into how different languages deal with word boundaries? Have you ever compared how native speakers of different languages tell their words apart? Before you have done this research, you are, sorry to say, not qualified to make statements such as the one you made above. We are not asking you to be a professional linguist before you can join this list; there are a lot of newbies that are welcome here. But if you are not well-informed, please at least recognize that you're not well-informed, and don't make presumptuous statements, and be ready to reconsider your assumptions and prejudices when presented with counter-arguments, instead of becoming defensive and accusing people of flaming you. [snip]
> If the flamers are right, the English language is impossible to learn, > and the most random languages are the best ones.
Calling people who tried to help you "flamers" only shows that you are not willing to learn. If so, this list is the wrong place for you. [snip]
> My intuition tells me that the perfect language should resemble wild > nature; it should be diverse, but not random.
Why are you looking for the "perfect" language? Is it so difficult to realize that there is *no* perfect language, as long as there are different people? The problem you're trying to solve is far, far, beyond the realm of language. The reason there are so many divergent languages (among many other things, such as culture, preferences, traditions, choice of metric system, etc.) is because people are *different*, and they *like* it. Why are the grammars of different languages so different and impossible to reconcile with each other? Because people have different ways of thinking, and different ways of doing things, and they *like* it that way. Is it so difficult to accept that the world is greater than your narrow heart? (I'm sorry, this is not intended to be a personal insult. I'm just trying to drive home a point here.) Given that people are different, and that they have different likes and dislikes, and different ways of thinking, then the only possible universal language is one which is universal solely because of convenience, not because of "perfection". (I put "perfection" in quotes because people have *different* ideas of what perfection is, and trying to reconcile them is way, way, beyond the realm of language. You are not going to please everyone so easily, unfortunately.) That is why I kept saying, there is very little motivation for anyone to learn Ygyde, because it does not sport any features obviously beneficial to *everyone*. There are already commonly-spoken, de facto universal, languages like English, which sufficiently serves the purpose of convenient communication between different people. You are free to disagree with my view, and that's perfectly OK. But please at least have the maturity not to impose your views upon everyone on the list. Please have the courtesy to recognize that the CONLANG list is NOT for soliciting your pet language. If you want to solicit, please go to AUXLANG, where such things are on-topic. I hope you don't take this message as a "flame". I'm not trying to insult you, and I'm not trying to say Ygyde is crap. The various messages you've received in this thread so far are not trying to "flame" you, even if they are a bit emotionally-charged. The point behind these messages is that: 1) CONLANG is not the place to solicit for your pet language 2) If you want to talk about the relative merits and flaws of auxlangs (international langs, philosophical langs, perfect langs, whatever you call them), the appropriate forum is AUXLANG. 3) We are NOT interested in statements like "Ygyde is better than language X because ..." or "language X is superior/inferior to language Y because ...". We are NOT interested in presumptuous and imposing statements like "my way of building a language is better than yours", or "my way of creating words is more sensible than yours". This all belongs to AUXLANG. 4) We *are* interested in statements like "in Ygyde, noun case is indicated by the use of particles X, Y, Z" or "Ygyde's scheme for color words is X, Y, Z", or "Ygyde treats pronouns differently from English, and this is how it does it", or even, "Ygyde has a taxonomic vocabulary, and this is how it works: ...". But please refrain from superiority / inferiority statements because they are off-topic, and nobody here is interested to hear it. I hope this will make your stay here more enjoyable for you and for everybody else. If you disagree with any of the above, then please consider leaving, because you will not fit in well here. T -- Airplanes stall. Computers just hang in the air...


Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...>
And Rosta <a.rosta@...>