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Re: My Three Assertions

From:Trent Pehrson <pehr099@...>
Date:Monday, February 28, 2005, 15:22
>You know, I see this kind of thing a lot. Some people are SO bothered by
>idea that words can be used for things that aren't one hundred and zero
>percent perfect examples, or that people might refer to X and Y with >different words even if there's no single defining thin line between them, >that they set their bar so high on every definition that every term
a) I am not bothered. b) Its just great that we use the same word to refer to X and Y. My only point is that it is always arbitrary not absolute. As such, it is amazing that we can do it. This is GREAT for generating a lot of deep-sounding
>philosophical text
I don't think it's deep at all, but rather obvious.
>......No, you didn't build that >birdhouse because you didn't make the wood. >So, it must be that NOBODY created Wenedyk, just as nobody created Polish. >Is it that you really *can't* tell the difference, or that you choose not
to? At least you understand that choice is involved. My point is that whether one calls a given language natural or not, constructed or not is merely a choice-- that's all.
>Yes, there are natlangs that have been forcibly reformed or tinkered with. >Some people here have even included them as 'conlangs'! (but I wouldn't.)
Yes, *you wouldn't* and someone else would. That is my point-- it's arbitrary.
>What does it matter if nothing's *perfectly* a-priori? That's like telling >someone off for calling something 'square': "no object is *perfectly* >geometrically square, there are always imperfections in it, so you can't
>that term for anything EVER." >Gee, thanks.
a) It matters a great deal to those who examin language diachronically. b) I told nobody off. c) I forbade nobody from using any term. Why are you so defensive about this?
>What good does it do to set the bar so high on a term that we use all the >time, like "a-priori" (or "create", as above), that we can't designate >*anything* with it anymore?
a) Even if I wanted to set a bar (which I don't) I have no binding power or authority to do so. b) You can designate anything you like. My point is to be clear about what a designation means and not to assume that a designation is absolute.
>I'm pretty sure Damian's comment on "real-time" had nothing to do with >diachronic language change, or humanity's capacity for language throughout >history.
You may be but I am not. "In real-time" here was contrasted with having to work it out on
>paper first (my previous message concerned stack-based LIFO grammar) -- at >the level of the individual speaker, at the time of speaking. Just as I >learned to understand and speak English in real-time. >At least that's how I understood it. And it's not a bad definition for >'human language' ... it does bring things like Klingon and Sindarin >(invented for fictional aliens/elves) into that definition, but those >languages aren't really that 'alien' anyway -- plus, all their speakers
You cannot know if everyone has to work something out on paper first or not. My only point was that the distinction is arbitrary. Being arbitrary doesn't mean it's bad or useless. It just means it's arbitrary.
>Anyway, for whatever reason, we know what each other means by >"conlang/natlang" and by "a priori/posteriori".
Actually, I have seen a lot of discussion on this list debating these words and their meanings. I am not convinced that we all see their meanings similarly. Having agreement (which would be arbitrary) would be very useful. Trent