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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 > words.
> 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. -- Jim Henry


Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>