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META: Trying again to be crystal-clear

From:David G. Durand <dgd@...>
Date:Saturday, October 31, 1998, 18:02
I agree with Lojbab and with Ray, and with Matthias (who also seems to feel
that he's being repressed) that discussions of language community building
and so forth, and language optimization with respect to explicit goals can
fit here very well.

However, the most dependable cause of flaming (Ray and Bob have both been
flaming recently, though in a relatively minor way) is the discussion of
exactly these topics. That's because people seem to have a hard time
separating the assessment of a language's fit to given goals, and the
assessment of the quality of those goals in themselves. The fact is that
people who are trying to achieve large active speaker communities _must_ be
advocates if they are to achieve that goal -- and advocacy does not fit
well with impartial discussion (or even impartial, but heated argument).
AUXLANG was created to split the specifically IAL and advocacy discussions
because their volume was large and the audience was restricted. This all
happend when CONLANG resided at, before I was even a subscriber, so
in preserving the distinction, I'm not innovating.

One of the few things I hate more than flaming is discussion of what
discussions are appropriate. Discuss any languages you want, but avoid
attacking people's motives in constructing them.

For instance, I personally don't believe that maximally-compressed
morphology is very inportant. That doesn't stop me from appreciating the
techniques to achieve it, perhaps using it sometime in an experimental
language, and most importantly, doesn't oblige me to dump on the idea
because someone else does think it's important.

On the other hand, I'm not an advocate of any specific linguistic solution
or approach. If I were, I might have to discipline myself to ignore such a
thread, or be careful to realize that other people could be hopelessly
wrong about compression, without being evil, and that they might be
completely unconvinceable of my side of the argument. I'd also have to let
"misinformation" about the importance of self-segregation stand and confine
myself to the facts of how much compression individual languages allowed.

As to Lojbab's sadness at the formation of splinter groups, I share it.
Actually I hate it when groups split off, but that's just what happens when
a vocal sub-community forms, and exceeds a certain portion of the total
mother-list bandwidth. But anyone can join the new lists, and keep up with
all the topics if they want to. I don't think there's any prejudice against
Klingon, Lojban, or Esperanto here, but many of the topics relevant to
those languages are not really "language construction" issues anymore --
they also have fully functioning communities for those whose primary
interest is in those languages. If you have a question about Klingon usage,
this isn't the place you're going to get the best response, that's all.

Anyhow this thread should be officially dead. Anyone who wants to hear more
should tag their messages "META:" so others can ignore it. I'm not going to
discuss it further on-list, in any case.

My bottom line: discuss whatever langauge construction topic you want, but
keep the advocacy parked on the curb before you enter. I'll scold you if
you don't (I've never yet had to do anything stronger, for any problem on
the list).

   -- David
David Durand      \
Boston University Computer Science        \  Sr. Analyst   \  Dynamic Diagrams
MAPA: mapping for the WWW                    \__________________________