Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

Re: arithmography (fuit: Re: The philosophical language fallacy)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 15:33

On Mon, 7 Jul 2008 21:23:38 -0400, Alex Fink wrote:

> On Mon, 7 Jul 2008 22:16:32 +0200, Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...> > wrote: > > >Perhaps the (as I call it) "arithmographic" approach of Leibniz > >works better than a Wilkins-style taxonomic vocabulary. > > This arithmographic approach is interesting. Do you have a pointer to > Leibniz' discussion of such a language? What did he call the approach? Did > he actually undertake the design of one to any significant extent? For that > matter, do you have anything presentable about X-5 yet?
Leibniz spoke of it as "characteristica universalis". I cannot provide you with a pointer to his discussion as I myself know of it only from secondary sources such as Wikipedia and Umberto Eco's book _The Search for the Perfect Language_. It also seems that Leibniz either never actually worked out the language, or if he did, it is waiting for discovery in the more than 50,000 pages of manuscript he left behind and most of which are not published yet. I also have nothing presentable yet on X-5.
> A potential source of difficulty that suggests itself to me, if primes are > going to correspond give or take to morphemes, is commutativity and > associativity. Associativity is already a problem with concatenative > morphology (_malsanulejo_; "pretty little girls' school"), but losing even > the order of the morphemes seems like it would make this fairly worse.
That would indeed make more problems than sense.
> If you mean primes to correspond to semantic atoms of some sort instead of > morphemes, this _could_ be less of a problem -- but I'd really have to see > it done to be convinced.
As far as I understand it, the idea behind arithmographic schemes is indeed not to use the numbers as "morphemes" but as semantic atoms which are combined into morphemes by multiplication and subsequent encoding in pronounceable form. For example, if "life" is assigned the number 2, all living beings receive even numbers and all inanimate things receive odd numbers.
> The claim that it makes sense to treat sememes > this way, so they're all orthogonal and freely combinable without > sensitivity to order, seems to me at least as strong a claim about semantic > space as traditional hierarchical taxonomies make.
This is indeed a very strong claim, and I have my doubt about it. An arithmographic scheme may thus turn out to be as unworkable as a taxonomic one. ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf