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Re: Comparison of philosophical languages

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Monday, January 20, 2003, 18:38
On Mon, Jan 20, 2003 at 04:25:50PM +0100, Christophe Grandsire wrote:
> > At present Ygyde's names of vegetables are very similar:
Which is precisely the problem. Like I said before, the brain works much better when similar yet different things are described by *very* different words. It's easier to remember. The natural tendency of the brain to equate similar things will cause endless confusion when two different but related things are described by almost identical words. It would be somewhat more acceptable if you have a suffix "-by" for vegetables, and have *divergent* prefixes to indicate different vegetables. (Cf. Mandarin, which has the "tsai4" suffix used in many vegetable names. But also keep in mind that the prefixes in these names have NOTHING in common with each other. That's the point. A different word must be unique enough the brain can keep a handle on it.) But under the current system, you have names like "obiby", "odibiby", etc., which are way too similar to each other. It's very difficult to learn such a language, because there is not enough uniqueness within each word for the brain to easily sort them apart. [snip]
> > vegetable = obiby = "noun anatomical part of a multicellular plant > > food" > > carrot = odibiby = "noun long anatomical... food" > Which fits also leek, white radish, courgette, bananas (parts of plants > aren't they?), etc... The problem with your compounds is that their > meaning is not readily identifiable from their parts, which defeats > somewhat the very purpose of a philosophical language.
Exactly. You want to either be completely, rigidly, taxonomic, which has been proven to be of little use; or you want to just have arbitrary words for each thing you want to name. But this not-here, not-there approach of arbitrarily assigning names to things will only cause Ygyde speakers to arbitrarily invent new words for things. Everyone will invent a different word for the same things, and Ygyde will diverge into mutually unintelligible dialects. Then there is no point of learning it at all---we might as well just stick with the natlangs that already exist. Introducing a new family of mutually unintelligible languages only makes the problem of mutual unintelligibility worse. [snip]
> > garlic = yluby = "noun smelly food" > > Never grilled sardines, boil cabbage or gave food to a cat did you? ;)))
Durians. 'Nuff said. (Now it would be utterly hilarious if a Ygyde speaker from England visits a Ygyde speaker in Malaysia, and tells the Malaysian to buy some "yluby" (she meant garlic) for the dish she wants to cook. The Malaysian brings home a large juicy durian, and the poor Brit faints at the stench... only to wake up and find her dish reeking of pure durian delight.) :-P
> > onion = ojibuby = "noun optical sickness food"
Why onion? "optical sickness food" sounds like carrots to me. After all, carrots are supposed to heal blindness, aren't they?
> So if I understand correctly anyone is allowed to define his/her own > opaque compounds? (yes, opaque. In all those compounds you presented, > except for the fact that they were nouns and had to do with food, > nothing was clear enough to explain their meaning.
Which is why I said, Ygyde will diverge into mutually unintelligible dialects, probably no better than the Sinitic languages (Chinese "dialects").
> In this case, better scrap the idea of compounds entirely, and come up > with a language with arbitrary roots but a regular grammar. Oh wait, > there are plenty of those around already ;)) ). Best way to have your > language turned into a multitude of non-intercomprehensible dialects. > Kind of defeats the purpose of an International Language too.
It wouldn't *be* an international language; it'd be a family of divergent languages, each as similar as English is with Sanskrit. [snip]
> > I did not use dictionaries when I was learning my mother tongue.
Yes, because your mother tongue was actually a natlang with *arbitrary* words (*gosh*! Imagine that!), and with none of the inane consistency Ygyde. When you have a language like Ygyde with so many related words so close to each other, you have *no choice* but to use a dictionary, because your brain cannot possibly cope with all these ultra-fine distinctions between words. Plus, you'd *certainly* need a dictionary to realize that "yluby" could refer to garlic, ginseng, ginger, or durians, so that when you write a recipe containing "yluby", you'll be sure to clarify exactly which ingredient you meant. I for one would love to see somebody fry beef with "yluby" thinking "yluby" meant durians. [snip]
> > Basic ideas and > > technical names have no reason to drift into > > idiosyncrasies.
Umm... have you ever realized that the one part about different natlangs that is the MOST different from every other natlang, even those with common ancestors, is precisely in the area of *basic ideas*? Think about it... given a passage in an unknown European language, what are the words that are most immediately recognizable? Words like "technology", "democracy", "analysis", etc., which are basically *loanwords* derived from ancestor languages. The words that *least* resemble each other are the COMMON words, like the pronouns, the grammatical particles, words for common concepts like "male", "female", basically, words that are used every day. [snip]
> If two different kinds of food are > > called "container food," we can distinguish them as > > "american container food" and "spanish container food." > > Or we can guess the meaning from the context.
OK, this is no better than "French horn" and "English horn". A French horn is first of all NOT French; most of its major developments were in Germany. And the English horn is NOT English. It's not even a horn!! If Ygyde is going to have these kinds of arbitrary terms for things, then it has completely lost any value it may have had as an international language. We might as well stick with English, since English is understood by the most people on this planet, and it is ALREADY recognized as an international language for communication. I'm sorry, but frankly, I see no additional value Ygyde contributes than what English already has. And English is already universally accepted as the international medium of communication. Ygyde is nowhere close to being this widely accepted, and if it is no better than English, then it's a waste of time to learn. [snip]
> Which defeats the purpose of a philosophical language again. Context is > also culture-dependent. "Depending on context" works only for people > with the same background, and even close backgrounds like different > European countries are far enough to provoke plenty of misunderstandings > due to a different way to take context (believe me, I have first > experience in those things). In any case, an IAL cannot rely on context > to disambiguate meaning.
Not to mention that even people in the *same family* interpret words differently. Judging from how common it is that siblings argue over whether carrots are red or orange, I *bet* you that if Ygyde ever gets widespread, mutually unintelligible dialects will spring up *very* quickly. Everybody will be assigning their own meanings to religious plants, watery plants, sickness plants, and what-have-you. And none of it will make *any* sense whatsoever to anyone not in the immediate community where the terms originated.
> > Television, Internet, fast food chains, and globalization may prevent > > idiosyncrasies.
[snip] This is ridiculously myopic. The Internet does NOT prevent idiosyncrasies; it actually *accentuates* differences even more. Global communications only mean that now it's easier for different people to find different cliques that they fit into. Eventually, they will no longer need to adapt themselves to people around them who are different from them; they will just go online and find people who are different the way they are. The result is, people will fragment into small tightly-knit communities of like-minded people. And you *bet* each of these groups will develop so much of their own idiosyncrasies that you won't be able to understand them. If you don't believe me, just try joining some of the chatrooms today. You already see things like l33tsp34k which is pure gibberish to those not in the know. Just wait a few more decades, and it won't even resemble English, which it started from, anymore. T -- The most powerful one-line C program: #include "/dev/tty" -- IOCCC


Andrew Nowicki <andrew@...>