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Re: Comparison of philosophical languages

From:Andrew Nowicki <andrew@...>
Date:Monday, January 20, 2003, 14:24
Sally Caves wrote:

SC> ...John Wilkins is the author of one of the most
SC> famous of them--A Real Character and Philosophical
SC> Language--presented to and rejected by the Royal
SC> Academy.  It was a tragic failure...

SC> Then he devised ... his complicated taxonomy...

SC> All his root vegetables were expressed in words
SC> that sounded too much alike, once you climbed
SC> down the ladder of his system. Real language
SC> operates in our minds through difference, and its
SC> symbols are ultimately arbitrary in origin: radish,
SC> carrot, turnip, beet, parsnip, rutabega... these
SC> words have many different origins, and they are
SC> ultimately easier to distinguish than elevela,
SC> elevale, elevali, elevalo, elevalily, etc.
SC> Wilkins' system also allowed for no neologisms,
SC> and ultimately his language was just too difficult
SC> to learn.

Very interesting post! I agree that a rigid taxonomical
language does not make sense. Of all the languages that
I know Ygyde is the most promising because it does not
have a complicated taxonomy and it is perfectly suited
for coining new compound words. At present Ygyde's
names of vegetables are very similar:
vegetable = obiby = "noun anatomical part of a multicellular plant food"
carrot = odibiby = "noun long anatomical... food"
cauliflower = ocibiby = "noun sexual anatomical... food"
corn = otybiby = "noun high anatomical... food"
garlic = olubiby = "noun smelly anatomical... food"
lettuce = okubiby = "noun lightweight anatomical... food"
onion = ojibiby = "noun optical anatomical... food"
parsley = olibiby = "noun medical anatomical... food"
potato = opebiby = "noun warm anatomical... food"

Ygyde's grammar does not say that names of vegetables
must sound similar, but it implies that the last
syllable of a food name must be "by" which means food.
We can easily redefine the names. For example:
garlic = yluby = "noun smelly food"
onion = ojibuby = "noun optical sickness food"

Andrew Nowicki wrote:
AN> When you learn a new language, you do not walk
AN> around with dictionaries,

Sally Caves wrote:
SC> Sure you do.  Especially if you're living in
SC> a foreign country and have to get the plumber
SC> to fix your toilet quickly. :)

I did not use dictionaries when I was learning
my mother tongue.

Andrew Nowicki wrote:
AN> If you know that "legal expert" means a lawyer, and
AN> you hear a new word sounding like "medical expert,"
AN> you may guess that this means a physician. If you
AN> are learning English language and hear the word
AN> physician for the first time, you do not have the
AN> vaguest idea if this means a physicist, a cuss word,
AN> or yet something else.

SC> But this system can only go so far.  Let anyone stray
SC> from it by introducing a new word, or let it evolve
SC> as all languages do, and it will start developing
SC> idiosyncracies and irregularities and eventually maggelities.
SC> <G> Unless you try to "fix" it-- Jonathan Swift's mistake.

Ygyde's grammar imposes some standards that cannot
be abolished. If Ygyde becomes a mother tongue,
idiosyncrasies are most likely in the names of
flora, fauna, food, and dress. Basic ideas and
technical names have no reason to drift into
idiosyncrasies. 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. Television,
Internet, fast food chains, and globalization may prevent


Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Peter Clark <peter-clark@...>
Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...>
Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>
Joseph Fatula <fatula3@...>