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Re: Non-linear / full-2d writing systems?

From:Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 10, 2005, 12:45
> I would imagine Sai is thinking in terms of something with at least that > level of expressivity; but my understanding is that what he wants > expressed is something more akin to "pure thought" and not related to any > spoken (or once spoken or could be spoken) language, whether a natlang or > conlang.
A brief reply on this point: I see it as two separate questions, though quite related. First is: what does 2d syntax (/ morphology / fusion?) buy you? I tend to view this in terms of a) information density per stream (i.e., what is this encoding, compared to its linear equivalent) and b) goodness of fit (i.e., is 2d a more 'natural' [as in intuitive not as in natlang] fit for expressing certain semantics, and therefore we can/should offload those onto it). Both of those come with the assumption that any extra data you're encoding into the 2d-ness, somehow, will be removed from other sources and replaced by something else. That is, if you view it as information density by stream, I don't want the density to go down in any stream just 'cause this one is going up, and I'd prefer it didn't just reduplicate / parallel (as you would get by, say, using natlang words) it, since that's wasteful. (Viz. my "principle of semantic conservation", if you've read ODIL.) Second: I am not against relation to natlangs or spoken langs per se. I just don't particularly care whether it is, and I suspect that copying them would make for fundamental inefficiencies. And yes, I have a general principle of wanting my conlang implementations to mirror thought as closely as possible. An ideal language would be telepathy, basically; the closer we can get to that - e.g. by having the language be as accurate and "native" a representation of internal thought processes as possible (conscious and sub-), the better. I for one don't think linearly, within my head, until it comes time to communicate it or encode it in some form (like for memorization). I feel that this is a bottleneck, honestly, and I kinda resent that I have to resort to such because I don't have better tools at my disposal; it's like my a lot of my thought gets lost in translation into "normal" language, because of inherent low-level flaws (or more generously, "mismatches") in the system. (I have some techniques for working around this - like creating triggers that merely index an existing, non-symbolized thought or thoughtweb, to be invoked at will / memory - but that's rather kludgy and doesn't address the questions of external record and communication.)
> True - a totem pole is really a 2d surface curved round a cylinder.
Not if depth has meaning.
> Absolutely - But (as I think Sai realized) I was being a bit "tongue in > cheek" with the 3d suggestion. The 2d idea is complex enough for starters > - so let's not pursue the 3d idea (we can leave that to conlangers of the > 22nd century :)
Aww.... but I want an ultraneato dynamic holographic-projection writing system... *whine*
> > Whether they are read linearly or not, to me, is beside the point. A > > human reader, bound by time and limited mental capacity, would > > necessarily process the information linearly in one way or another.
Distinction: they would necessarily process it *chunked*. Chunked != linear - viz. experiments like "word superiority effect" that demonstrate parallel processing, at least at low levels. But yes, there would necessarily be a linear sequence *of* chunks, for some value of "linear". I suspect that it need not even be that, since it's not a one-item-then-next thing - there's multithreading and whatnot going on.
> It is the notion that something like a whole book could be thus written. I > do find it very difficult to see how the _sense/ meaning_ of Charles > Darwin's "The Origin of species" or Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" could be > written so there is more than one way you could read it and there is no > starting or ending element.
Darwin I could see, given that it's basically setting forth an idea (or rather, a set of ideas) and then going through all the support / analysis / whatnot - not a necessarily linear thing. Novels, however, are tricky. The way we conceive of a "story" now is rather directly tied to the concept of events-through-time; it's a core element. Without it, you don't get the whole build-climax-release 'thang', and that seems to be crucial to our culture's concept of a good story. So for storytelling, you would either need some form of linearization to enforce that, some other way to acheive the same effect (*), or an entirely new paradigm of what makes for a good story. * For example, having different values for "tension" - perhaps one could have something that is good over the net as a whole, so that there would be a progression of tension / knowledge / understanding as one comprehends more and more of the network and gets a more woven-together / digested understanding of the whole thing. I think this would be possible, and quite probably has a direct parallel to the progress of enlightenment in the meditation-practice sense: growing understanding through multiple paths, and comprehension of patterns and fundamentals. It's an interesting little problem. "Non-trivial", though, in the scientific sense of the word. :-P - Sai


Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>