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Re: The Philosophical Language Fallacy

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Monday, July 7, 2008, 19:44

On Mon, 7 Jul 2008 14:57:38 +0200, Henrik Theiling wrote:

> My way of learning that it is hard or maybe impossible of finding a > good lexical taxonomy was simply that it never worked well when I > tried. I gave up because I was very frustrated and lexical design > took long without making the result pleasing.
It is not all that easy to come up with a taxonomy that covers everything adequately and doesn't have holes you could fly a 747 through :) And even if you succeed, it is another matter whether the resulting words will please you or not.
> (Lexical design > *always* takes a very long time for me, but e.g. for my historical > conlangs, the result is pleasing. That's a nice reward.)
I also find lexicon design difficult, and my advance in it has been slow so far. Especially with a language like Old Albic where I feel that everything should sound "right" (which is, however, a subjective notion).
> Newer engelangs like Qþyn|ài do not try to have a strictly > hierarchical lexical structure, but the lexical atoms are meant to be, > well, nothing more than atoms. I do the same for a newer > oligoisolating (or -synthetic, not decided yet) language, although I > do group the lexical atoms semantically a bit.
Perhaps the (as I call it) "arithmographic" approach of Leibniz works better than a Wilkins-style taxonomic vocabulary. A restricted vocabulary, be it taxonomic, arithmographic or just oligosynthetic, is an interesting idea to try out in an engelang, but I feel you always need some sort of escape mechanism which allows you to import arbitrary lexical material when everything else breaks down or just becomes too unwieldy (especially when it gets down to proper names). Such an escape mechanism naturally confounds the elegance of the scheme (if done cleverly, you can at least rescue self-segregation, though), and you may just as well start with an arbtitrary vocabulary in the first place. What all this shows is that arbitrariness in human language is not a bug but a feature - it is the only way of getting a lexicon that is flexible and extendable enough to cope with the complexity of the universe. ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf