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Re: Parallel Languages

From:makeenan <makeenan@...>
Date:Thursday, July 28, 2005, 14:24
>===== Original Message From Constructed Languages List
<CONLANG@...> =====
Hi Jim, Thanks for the interest.
>The long version: > >a. The balderdash: > >If I understand your post correctly, you're saying that there is a langauge
in which one and the same set of symbols can concern one subject (e.g. physics) according to one interlocutor and another subject ( according to another interlocutor. Yes. That's the idea.
>First, there is no definitive list of conceptual primitives; that's one
reason why no one has come close to successfully constructing any "philosophical language," which is prerequistie to making a parallel language according to your post. It seems to me that the conceptual primitives need only to be axiomatic. How close they come to describing actual reality is probably as good as any other language. Language almost never describes reality exactly but the speakers of a language understand what is meant.
>Second, the idea that everyone decides what every word means, but
"guidelines" keep the meanings of the words close across speakers and listeners, is self-contradictory. To the extent that speakers must conform to guidelines about the meanings of words, they are not deciding what each word means. Correct. To do this there has to be some constraint on how far astray your your deffinitions can go
>Third, there is no non-arbitrary way to map concepts and statements from one
field of endeavor onto another. For example, is there a concept in cooking that uniquely corresponds to the physical concept of "force"? Or "mass"? Or "acceleration"? What statement about cooking uniquely corresponds to "F=ma"? If there are no such unique correspondences, "F=ma" could mean anything at all if interpreted as a statement about cooking. In the proposed idea there is much leeway given for interpretation. A word can have many meanings *within the constraints* mentioned above. So yes it is *somewhat* non-arbitrary. I would not venture to try and translate force, mass and acceleration into Mua. I would let someone more familiar with their meanings do that. I would love to see them and I would not hesitate to translate them into the cooking set because I'd like to see what they would refer to. (I'd also love to see how someone who has a physics set translates 'carrot') I very much doubt they would refer to specifc ingredients. The constraints I talked about probably would not allow such divergence. Most likely, I would interpret your remarks as organizational stuff. In any field there are more levels than just one. The definitions in this langauage are deliberately non specific so that the person familiar with his field can interpret correctly.
>Fourth: If the correspondences are stipulated rather than non-arbitrary,
what could insure that a statement in parallel language X that the speaker uttered as a statement about physics would *make sense* as a statement about cooking to the listener? For example....
> >stipulated correspondences: > >speed = dough >distance = water >time = flour >(multiplication) = separation >(division) = mixture > >A. Here's the original mapping: stipulated. > >"speed = distance over time" = "dough is water mixed with flour." > >B. Here's a transformation: Both statements make sense. > >"distance = speed times time" = "water is dough separated from flour." > >C. Here's another transformation: The cooking statement makes no sense at
> >"time = distance over speed" = "flour = water mixed with dough"
This example does not work because your corespondences are probably wrong.
>b. The fascinating idea: The closest thing to "parallel languages" that
I can think of in real life is the extended metaphor. Things like discussing families by discussing gardens. What would a language look like if it marked extended metaphors morphologically and/or syntacticaly, and what cultural circumstances would make such markings handy? (Does this tie into the use of subjunctive mood in some languages?) Communication using Mua can seem like talking extended metaphors.
>Jim G.
-Duke The Keenans