Re: Bootstrapping a cooperative conlang
|From:||Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>|
|Date:||Friday, November 16, 2007, 18:21|
On Nov 16, 2007 3:26 AM, Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...> wrote:
> I have made a number of attempts at a cooperative conlang, all of which fell
> apart for one reason or another.
> (Anyone remember "Kalusa"?)
Very fondly indeed.
> Here's yet another
> idea for a cooperative conlang which would 1) allow people to collaborate even
> they shared no common natural language, and 2) encourage the conlang to grow
> into a naturalistic and useful language.
> Bootstrapping a collaborative conlang: Begin with no more than 100 basic words
> which have simple equivalents with the same meaning in most other languages,
> and which suffice to define further words (Idea borrowed from the "Semantic
> Primes" of "Natural Semantics Metalanguage").
It might be less controversial to actually use those semantic primes rather
than coming up with your own list.
> All new words beyond the core vocabulary of 100 words are defined or explained
> using only the core words, or words that have been defined in terms of the core
> People can then collaborate on building a conlang even if they do not share a
> common natural language, by communicating in very the language they are
> building as they build it.
To make a valid test of this hypothesis, we would want to simultaneously
publicize the new project with announcements in various languages
in various online fora; and start out with introductory pages that define
the core (NSM-based?) vocabulary in a number of different
languages. (Including Esperanto and Toki Pona -- the members
of those languages' communities are good target audiences for
projects like this.)
> The dictionary would be arranged chronologically for the first time learner,
> and alphabetically for the more advanced student. Until such time as the
> language grows to the point where complex grammatical issues can be discussed
> in the language itself, all grammatical rules are demonstrated by examples,
> rather than being explained.
We could use a modified version of the Kalusa engine, that maintains
a list of definitions and corpus sentences but without the English glosses
that were a fundamental part of defining new Kalusa words.
> Core vocabulary
> a - to, toward, at
> alo - say
> amensa - know
As Michael Poxon pointed out, there are some potential problems
with the "universality" of your list, but it's a pretty good start.
My main criticism is that, for such a small list, the words are a
little too visually/phonologically similar to each other. In the
basic list, we should aim for maximum distinctness in sound
and appearance, even if we don't enforce that requirement for
words added later on.
Another couple of collaborative-language ideas I've had in the
time since the Kalusa project ended include:
- a pictorial project where we start with a handful of simple
line drawings with captions in the new conlang, and people
can add new pictures and alternate/additional captions
for existing pictures.
- a modification of the Kalusa engine, where glosses can be
in any number of other languages; and you can pick which
language or languages you want to see glosses in.
- Or a combination of both, where the "gloss" on a conlang
corpus sentence could be a sentence in any of several
natlangs, or a picture you've uploaded or linked to elsewhere
on the web.