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Forwarding "MY TWO CENTS WORTH ON TANRU...
*** Forwarded note from Carl Burke, sent 06/05/90 at 09:55:44...
Date: Tuesday, 5 Jun 1990 10:04:54 EST
From: m16569@mwvm (Carl Burke)
SUBJECT: MY TWO CENTS WORTH ON TANRU..."
... in reference to missives from Guy Steele, lojbab, and perhaps others
... on the burning issue of le blanu zdani.
In reading Guy's note re real-world language usage, there will certainly
be that type of semantic drift; words gather culture-specific connotations
over time which in some cases eventually replace the original meaning of the
word (e.g., 'awful', which (a few hundred years ago) was a complimentary term
meaning 'full of awe', or 'awe-inspiring'.)
It is important to remember that these connotations (such as blue for sad,
'blue-nest' for religious sanctuary (in 2042), or 'green' for an environmenta
activist) are culture-specific. Since one of the goals of la lojban is
cultural neutrality, or at least freedom from existing cultural frames, the u
of such cultural semantic borrowings should be avoided. This does not mean
that you cannot say that you are 'blue' when you really mean sad, but you
should use a le'avla to indicate that usage rather than polluting brand-new
(and perfectly good) gismu with connotations from outside the lojban-speaking
A stern finger-wagging and rueful head-shaking having been administered,
I slink back into my lair to await further developments.
s on to say
> Furthermore, to impose such a scheme is to impose an
> unnecessary metaphysical (and possibly cultural) bias on the language.
From what I've seen debated in Metaphysic journals, I want a bias against
> Lojban, we want only to havve the constraint that it be easier to talk using
> logical constructs than in natural languages, and we've carrried this to the
> extreme of making it easier to talk using logical constructs than non-logical
> With regard to jimc's concept, we've taken the exact opposite tack. If
> there are multiple grammatical ways to express something in different natural
> languages, the subject to maintain Lojban's unambiguity, we try to emulate ALL
> of them (so as not to favor any one). There is a tradeoff here between logic
> and pragmatics; we've favored pragmatics where a construct does not violate
> the logical basis of the language. If there are contradictory forms in
> different languages, one form has to be marked differently than the other,
> and we've generally chosen to make the simpler metaphysical assumption the
> less marked form.
and if you cannot adequately represent the more complex expressions of
metaphysics, then DON'T WORRY about them. They are more likely a figment
of some ambiguity of the language that they originated in than an expression
of an idea worthy of my attention. PLEASE DON'T CLUTTER UP LOJBAN to deal
with them. In other words, if some metaphysics debate sounds nonsensical
in lojban, assume it is nonsensical and lojban is working perfectly.
> This has led Lojban to a simple elegance, and we've had
> several serendipitous discoveries wherein a more complicated construct
> falls apart into 1 or 2 simple constructs.
> The prime virtue in simplicity is easy learnability.
Another of what I think are bad leadins to good ideas:
(yes) Ease of learning is (I believe) related to ease of representing
those ideas commonly expressed by people (where the second "ease"
is deminished with each additional rule of the language);
(but) The prime virtue (My big reward) is the ease of representing
the (hopefully complex) ideas that I want to think about and
work with (reqardless of the pain of mastering the language).
> But if we simplify
> the grammar to an extreme, we make complicated ideas hard to say.
I hope I just said that that conclusion is totally undesirable.
> This is a
> somewhat different constraint, in terms of a Sapir-Whorf constraint, than
And (regretable) I fail to comprehend this last statement.
For those of you I may have offended, you may flame at me personally
but use this mail list only if you want a soap box to preach to everyone.
I did. If you want me to respond to your flames say so, and I will.
Arthur Protin <email@example.com>
These are my personal views and do not reflect those of my boss
or this installation.