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Re: my next project: language of the Mandai

From:Jim Grossmann <steven@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 13, 2002, 20:17
Sounds interesting.   I was intrigued by what you said about keeping the
language alive.  It seems to me that, in order to keep the language alive,
you'll have to elaborate on the metaphysical assumptions of the

(To give an example of on-the-street metaphysical assumptions, the
person-on-the-street is a Cartesian, believing in a soul and a body, neither
reducable to the other.   I believe that a philosopher named Searle said
that.  I know that someone did way before I did.  Anyway...)

Since you mentioned killing, I'm assuming that the Mandai language will be
able to convey ideas about or related to everyday reality.  I doubt that you
can describe this reality without referencing events in addition to static

The idea of all-reciprocal verbs is another issue.  To make all the verbs
reciprocal without merely creating a bunch of odd idioms, it seems to me
that you have to have the Mandai let go of certain assumptions, like this
one:   "one thing or being can control other things or beings."

Note that, in a stage play, pretend-killing is a reciprocal action, with
both the "killer" and the "victim" playing their assigned roles, and
facilitating the "murder" cooperatively.  This reciprocal act occurs in
accordance to a script written long before the play, and requires actors
committed to playing their assigned roles.

If, in real life, killing is also reciprocal, it could be because reality
occurs in accordance to destiny, the "script" that we follow.  The Mandai
may have so strong a belief in destiny that they may take Shakespeare's "all
the world's a stage" line literally.  They may believe, with some EST
graduates, that each of us wants and facilitates the misfortunes that happen
to us.

The Mandai may have no distinction between free choice and deterministic or
chance events:  being in control may mean acting in accordance with one's
destiny or assigned role in any given situation.   Doing otherwise may be
considered either crazy or impossible by definition.

Of course, all this could be completely out of step with what you're trying
to develop.  None of these ideas may be suitable.   But I hope I've
illustrated the kind of thinking that might help to keep the language
"alive."   How do those Mandai see so much reciprocity in the world?   You
may want to take a look at Far Eastern philosophy too.

All the best, truly,

Jim G.


Tom Little <tom@...>