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Lojban program and conlang software ideas

From:Peter Clark <pclark@...>
Date:Friday, May 5, 2000, 20:01
        It's Friday, so I can pop in again with a quick word. While I am
not really interested in Lojban, I thought that I would pass on a link
that I found on Apparently, a Richard Curnow has created a
Lojban grammar parser for Linux. Here, let me cut/paste the description:
I have created a utility called jbofi'e (lojbo finpe = Lojbanic fish,
named after Babelfish). This parses Lojban text for grammatical
correctness. If the text passes, the output is formatted to show the
nesting of various constructs, together with approximate English
translations for the words. The kit includes 3 other utilities :

o cmafi'e (provides rough English translations but has no grammar checking

o smujajgau (creates pre-sorted Lojban to English dictionaries for use by
jbofi'e and cmafi'e)

o jvocuhadju (advises on the optimum lujvo for a particular tanru
structure, based on the algorithm in the reference grammar)
        Anywho, if this interests anyone, check out:
        Next order of business: has anyone considered starting up a Open
Source/Free Software (take your pick of terms) line of conlang software
and tools? How many programmers do we have on the list? I really wish that
a.) I had more time and b.) knew a decent programming language (I am still
teaching myself C in my officially non-existant free time), because I
would try to whip up something for others to work off of. I am aware of
Kura, Boudewijn's language database program/Shoebox replacement, but it
would be interesting to see a truly cross-platform set of tools be
developed. Here just a wee little wish list...

o Random word generator - I have found several on the web, but aside from
LangMake, these are primitive at best. Of course, I do my word generation
the old fashion way (just today I decided that the number for 24 should be
"cits" /kits/. Enamyn is base-8, in case you are wondering why 24 gets its
own name.) Still, it would be nice (should I ever need a quick-and-dirty
list of words) to feed in phonemes and syllable structure and frequency
tables and get a reasonable list back. Jeffrey Henning's LangMake program
comes to mind as the closest to reach an ideal so far (I love the
transformation feature), but why not take a good thing and make it better?

o Dictionary program - something where the user could type in the word and
the translation, and the program would insert generate a Conlang<->Natlang
dictionary. It would definitely have to handle multiple meanings; grabbing
an example from Russian, if I type in "jazyk" for the Russian word and
"tongue" and "language" for the English definitions, I should be able to
find "jazyk" under both "tongue" and "language" in the English section. It
should also work the other way as well; if I type in "probovat'" and later
"starat'sja", I should find both under "try." It should also be able to
indicate special forms, like "djen'gi" becoming "djenjeg" in the genitive
        Plus, it should have an Export To HTML feature, for that web page
that I keep meaning to create... :)

o Transformer (I can't think of a better name--it's getting late) - this
would apply regular sound changes across the board.

o Grammar generator - This would be incredibly cool if someone could
actually manage to pull it off. The program would run through a list of
different grammar options (nominative/ergative/active/mixed; SVO, SOV,
VSO, etc.; isolating/agglutinating/fusional/polysynthetic; and so on) and
spit out a grammar. Of course, listing all the millions of different
variables would be a nightmare...

o Simulator - Since I am now officially dreaming, imagine a simulator
where the computer takes two or more languages and builds a simulation of
how they would change and interact with each other. How close would the
computer come to Brethenig? What would have happened if Alexander the
Great had conquered Japan and left a significant speakers of Greek (or
Macedonian--is there a difference?) in Kyoto?
        Ok, well these last two are probably unreasonable, but since the
first three already have a precedent in one form or another, they should
not prove too difficult. I think it would be nice if the core could be in
ANSI C or some other standardized language that is available across the
whole width of Win/Mac/Un*x platforms. The GUI could then be a separate
program that calls the core functions; that way, instead of having to
write a seperate version for each operating system, only the GUI would
need to be re-written. (Plus, this would allow both a QT/KDE and GTK/GNOME
GUI for Linux--hey, you could write a GUI in Tk...)
        Mmm...just think about piping a list of syllable structures and
phonemes into a word generator, which pipes its output to a dictionary
program which randomly assigns meanings to words, then proceeds to pipe
the resulting dictionary to a transformer which creates half a dozen
daughter languages.
        Well, if anyone wants to spearhead such a project, I volunteer to
beta-test, which is about as much good as I am worth. :( Anyone else have
a good idea for a conlangish program that they would like to see?