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*To*: uunet!cbmvax!snark.thyrsus.com!lojbab*Subject*: uunet!cbmvax!snark.thyrsus.com!lojbab*From*: jack*Date*: Thu Sep 27 10:52:40 1990

[ . . . ] I haven't had time to read the explanation of the machine grammar. Maybe it will solve the concern I have about the readability of the grammar. It is a bit disappointing, although expected, that you are announcing the baselining of the grammar in its current state. I think it should have undergone a simplification pass. I think I oppose the "let a thousand flowers bloom" philosophy. Every learner of the language has to know all the little words in order to parse arbitrary grammatical utterances. Therefore, complexity in the grammar is very expensive in learning time. Predicate language is not supposed to be a word-for-word translation of a natural lanugage. It started out radically different. I suspect some of the grammatical complications that have crept in will let speakers continue in the grammatical viewpoint of natural languages and thus have less tendency to adopt the predicate viewpoint and think about what they really mean to say. Of course, I have no place from which to stand and complain, since I have not given time to the grammar myself. If you want to debate with me about grammar (which I suppose you don't, and I am not asking you to, but if you do), we need more precisely-defined terms. Let grammar-1 mean the mathematical function that maps from utterances to parses (or to rejections as ungrammatical), independently of how that function might be expressed or prescribed. Then if A and B stand for grammar-1s and U is a putative utterance, if for all U A(U) = B(U) then A = B. Let a grammar-2 (you might know better terms than grammar-1 and grammar-2) be a pair (E, L) such that E is an expression in some mathematical notation and L (for "language") is the meaning of the notation used in E, such that L(E) is a grammar-1. Let a grammer-3 be the expression E of a grammar-2 (E, L). Then the official YACC grammar of Lojban is a grammar-3 (and L is YACC plus the preprocessor, in essence). A goal often expressed for a grammar-3 of a version of Loglan is that it be "unambiguous". Hidden behind this is some kind of constraint or criterion on L, since L could always be constructed so that E couldn't be ambiguous. [end]

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