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Re: LUNATIC again

From:John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date:Monday, November 9, 1998, 15:13
Sarra Cavernae scripsit:

> And also because, as Matt again points out, the definition of "language" > even among linguists is disputed.
After presiding over a multi-hour debate by a congress of biologists on the meaning of the word "life", Sir Peter Medawar closed the topic as follows: "I think we all know the difference between a live horse and a dead one, and I propose that we *cease to beat the latter*". Foundational debates are often irrelevant to the majority of workers in a field, who pragmatically define X as whatever is studied by X-ologists.
> Most novelists, as I wrote > earlier on this list when I described my adventures at Albacon, are not > interested as we *artlangers* are in mapping every little linguistic > detail of their languages. They don't intend to write poems or extended > compositions in them--just convey a sense of them with a few choice words > or phrases. Ursula Le Guin is that kind of *artlanger* in contrast with > Tolkien, or maybe even Jack Vance. Certainly Suzette Haydin Elgin.
I'm not quite sure who is being contrasted with whom, but Le Guin has written poetry in her conlangs, notably Karhidish and Kesh.
> > I find it hard to > > characterize a conlang like Glosa as anything other than "English with > > strange (regularized) grammar and odd-looking codewords". In short, only > > one step removed from Pig Latin. I cannot make this statement without it > > sounding disparaging - it IS disparaging.
Nick Nicholas characterized Glosa as "Basic English in Greek" (now added to my Essentialist Explanations page at
> Then what's the "lang" part doing in conlang and artlang, Bob?
No problem. A grammatical error need not be grammatical, and a teddy bear is not a member of the genus Ursus.
> You know, a lot of German and French poetry can have one-on-one > transference. I can find an English semantic equivalent of _Der > Erlkonig_.
"[...] Die Erde braucht doch jetz vier-und-zwanzig Stunden, sich in ihre Achse zu drehen---" "Was, redest du vom Axt?" fragte die Herzogin. "Hau' ihr den Kopf ab!" (tr. Antonie Zimmermann) is fair enough, but "[...] vous voyez bien, la terr met vingt-quatre heures a faire sa revolution." "Ah! vous parlez de faire des revolutions!" dit la Duchesse. "Qu'on lui coupe la tete!" (tr. Henri Bue) is nothing less than sublime. English original from Chapter 6, 'Pig and Pepper', of _Alice in Wonderland_: "You see the earth takes twenty-four hours to turn round on its axis---" "Talking of axes," said the Duchess, "chop off her head."
> Matt hasn't, nor has And, but they aren't typical. Mostly, these atypical > linguists have helped me. I am indebted to them for their interest and > their many kindnesses.
It was once said (by Jonathan Schell?) that the world needs more generals and admirals against nuclear war. Similarly, the world needs more linguists who are language-makers.
> Perusal of John's pages
Not my pages, really.
> has made me understand that Lojban is not to be > considered an auxlang. I would appreciate a clearer understanding of how > it differs from an auxiliary language. Perhaps I don't understand what > is really meant by "auxiliary."
Because its primary purpose is not to foster communications between people who do not speak the same 1st language. -- John Cowan You tollerday donsk? N. You tolkatiff scowegian? Nn. You spigotty anglease? Nnn. You phonio saxo? Nnnn. Clear all so! 'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)