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Re: LUNATIC again

From:Logical Language Group <lojbab@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 10, 1998, 5:25
David Durand:
>I think we're converging on a notion of tolerance that I approve, as well >as seeing some eyes opening as well, which is also good!
We agree.
>>The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. We have claimed that Lojban is >>adequate, but we have felt it necessary to prove it. And our credibility >>was >>greatly enhanced when we did so. People want to SEE that a language is >>being used in order to believe it CAN be used. > >That's fine. I think that the need for such proof is relatively small in >this forum. Most of us have had the experience of creating a system >_adequate_ to communication, if impoverished (in grammar or vocabulary, or >both).
And the question I have essentially asked is: how can you know, unless you have used it in communication with others (however impoverished that communication might be)? I guess I am a little weak on argument by faith.
>We _know_ that it's possible to create such a system.
Umm, we know that it is possible that such a system can be created. It is not entirely clear to me that anyone can create such a system by act of will. This question can be examined by looking at Esperanto, which you also cite:
>For that >matter, Esperanto is an existence proof in itself that language creation is >not impossible.
Well, if we grant that Esperanto as defined by Zamenhof as of the Fundamento was at that point (its time of 'completion') adeqyate, then we have a case. I am reasonably sure this is so, but am not an Esperantist and have to take the word of others. On the other hand, the core of Esperanto, the "16 rules", demonstrates how much Z. was assuming of the norms of Standard European. He invented a language, but hardly started from scratch, and indeed had 95% of the grammar defined for him, if not more. But all in all I am inclined to admit that Z "invented" the language, and that Esperanto is a "conlang" %^). So no definitional quibbling is needed. However the creation of E. may show the possibility of language creation,it does not show that any particular other creation is speakable, is "a system _adequate_ to communication". Thus E. is NOT an argument that anyone else OTHER than Z. has "had the experience of creating a system _adequate_ to communication" until they have demonstrated it. So that:
>That's fine. I think that the need for such proof is relatively small in >this forum.
I accept that this is true, but am arguing that it may perhaps be too true. For artlangs, especially those that are presumed to be spoken by speakers quite unlike 20th century humans, there is arguably no need to prove effectiveness. In a fictional world, a claim of adequacy can hold, because fictional elements can hold if plausible, and many conlangs are *plausibly* communicative even if not demonstarably so. I guess I can and will stop arguing completely insofar as the topic includes fictional langauges, because plausibility is even harder to argue about than the definition of language $%).
>What a critical mass of speakers proves is that the language has a chance of >>continuing beyond the inventor. (critical mass means of course that you have >>a self-sustaining interaction). Given the tendency of conlangs to not >>survive their inventors, and indeed usually to not be learned except by them, >>I recognize legitimate skepticism in people who sayor imply "not another >>conlang". > >Your desire to prove feasibility to others doesn't change the fact that >_you knew_ that it was adequate.
au contraire. I did not know, and indeed still do not know. I strongly believe and now have supporting evidence for that belief. There remain some active supporters of Lojban that still have their doubts about its ultimate adequacy.
>>We all can play Humpty Dumpty. %^) Language is luckily not very proprietary. >>But most people rely either on dictionaries or experts for their definitions >>and categorizations of phenomena. > >Actually, most people rely on usage, not on either of those two things.
John Cowan's quote answered this. Most people, whether relying on usage or not, will change their belief when confronted by an expert saying something else. Exceptions tend to be confined to arenas of life where other epistemologies can challenge science, i.e. anywhere where a person's religion dares to tread.
>My dictionary (AHD college) has 10 meanings (or usages) for the word >language, including verbal and written utterances, animal comminication, >mathematical notations, programming languages, etc... > >The term is a broad one. Your stubborn insistence on a particular >(imperfect) definition of the term is what I'm arguing against.
To the extent that this is NOT a linguisitcs forum, I will condcede this. And Sally among others seem to be strongly arguing that this is not a linguistics forum. Fine. But does this then mean that the rest of the plethora of linguistic hjargon terms that are regularly thrown around in this forum have Humpty Dumpty meanings as well? How am I (or others) to knwo when one is to take the popular definition of a term as distinct from the linguistics definition, when so much of the discussion is dominated by linguistics information expressed in quite sophisticated linguistic jargon? At worst (and probably true), I am guilty of taking a term with a jargon definition and presuming that this definition is intended by peopl who use it along with related jargon on this forum. Where are the context clues that tell me NOT to use the jargon meaning of the word? Some would think this is obvious, but I guess I am obtuse at understanding context then ( people have indeed accused me of having all the sensitivity to context of a ... well maybe I won't get into that %^).
>English is not entirely fixed, because people extend it all the time, >invent new narrative styles (Joyce did, certainly),
With John Cowan the Joyce quoter in my camp, I should not argue this, but at times I wonder whether most people would consider Joycisms to truly be English (I enjoy them anyway %^).
>Once the system has a certain ciritical >mass of _grammatical rules_ it can continue to be extended from within. >That state is one that art- and aux- and log-langers alike do, and _can_ >aspire to.
Yep. I believe that this critical mass is somewhere at about the current LOjban level of completeness. As supporting evidence I will cite the histoyr of Loglan, wherein JCB admits himself that his initial design as proposed in 1955 and promoted in the Scientific American article in 1960 "merely rattled around in peoples' heads" - it proved NOT to be sufficiently defined so as to be speakable. Likewise, the 1968 version and the 1974-5 versions, which were published and saw wide spread readership, proved inadequate to communications when put to the test (though passages could be translated with some difficulty, much revision, and no real proof that anyone would understand the translations as expressing what th orginal expressed. Some attempts at conversation took place in 1976-7, but were not especially successful. It was not until we tried in 1989 that I think any Loglan variety proved capable of extensive communication without a dictionary in hand - we spoke it in the car during the long drive from Washington DC to Boston for Noreastcon. And even then we took another 5 years before continued usage testing showed that the language grammar was complete enough for baselining. Somewhere around then the language first showed some capability to be "extended from within". Otherwise all extensions to the langyuage were posed from outside by prescription. Our tough standards for baselkining are the result of the tendency for prescriptivists tampering from outside to prevent the development of the capability to extend from inside the language. Lojban, however was almost certainly not adequate for communications until at least 1989-90 by the most sparing of definitions, andI don't think TLI Loglan was any more adequate than that until even later.
>>I would have to understand better what you mean by those aspects, since >>English aspect is so unlike Russian aspect which is how I have finally come >>to understand perfect/imperfect. >Assume it's just like russian. That's my point.
I don't see how your discussion of your"English-prime" has anything to do with Russian which has tense and number disticntions. So I do not see your point, But i think that we've moved past whatever you were tying to show.
>That E-prime is unconvincing to me because I think it's just paraphrasing >around one grammatical construction, and preserving the semantics whole.
Yet it is "spoken" and adequate for communications, according to some proponents who claim to use it in everyday life. It is more complete than most conlangs, has speakers, has a grammatical difference from standard English (albeit essentially only one, it is a fairly big one). Is it a "language"; is it a distinct language from English. Is it a conlang (it is invented and it is a language)?As you say, it largely preserves semantics whole- I would thus call it a code and not a language despite the grammatical difference. lojbab