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Gender; Logic; Love
- To: email@example.com@mcnc.org
- Subject: Gender; Logic; Love
- From: cbmvax!uunet!mcnc.org!aurs01!aurw31!waugh (Jack Waugh)
- Date: Fri, 1 Mar 91 22:52:33 -0500
[ . . . ]
> the reason i first contacted
> lojban about participating was that I was intrigued by its
> description as a "*non-sexist
In many languages, pronouns are inflected for gender.
English, for example, has no pronoun that can refer to
some unknown or hypothetical person without a connotation
of the person's sex (in English, genender usually indicates
sex, unlike in French). I take that back; we can do
it in the plural, but evidently not in singular (Loglan
doesn't inflect for number, either). For example, in
"each student should grade his neighbor's work", even
though many will argue that the "true" semantics of the
"his" doesn't imply anything about the student's
anatomical equipment or chromosomes, I believe (based
on introspection) that the "his" *connotes* maleness
to most readers and listners, in a deep part of their minds,
and that this leads to behavior resulting in an unfair
treatment of the sexes. What convinced me of this
connotation was my reaction on reading a textbook for the
first time that used "she" and "her" randomly about half the
time for hypothetical people. This is an example of how
I think English is sexist. Another would be nouns such
as actor/actress (there was a great essay; was it by Twain?,
written in a form English might take if it treated race
the same way as it actually treats sex. A black person's
name would be preceded with a title "Niss" or "Nissus"
(something like that) depending on whether the person
had a job. "Author" only described a white author; the
term for a black one was "authoroon"). Loglan (all forms,
including Lojban) simply omit this garbage. If you want
to describe or refer to someone/something as, say, a
female nurse or a male doctor, you can (either in a vague
or a precise way), but that just grammatically parallels
anything else you might say about them, and of course
isn't mandatory. Similarly (somewhat), you can "quantify"
to say something about number (with just the same meaning
as number inflection in English if you want) or you can
just omit to say anything about number. You don't
have to say whether your referent is human if you don't
want to ("who"/"which" type distinction). I think it is
fair to say that Loglan is not sexist.
> non-culturally specific*
Well, cultural neutrality is a stated goal of Loglan (including
Lojban). One could argue that cultural bias is in the language
prescription, perhaps, but at least there has been some
attempt to keep it at bay. In particular, the
construction of the root words from existing languages
occurred by a procedure that was independent of the culture
of the people doing the work, but that instead depended on
the number of speakers of the languages.
Loglan/Lojban seems to me much less dependent on
culture than Esperanto, which by contrast, is blatently
> language"; the discussion here has been so ****ing
> right-brained, with everybody trying to flog each other to
> death with reams of information, splitting hairs.
Don't you mean "left-brained"?
> I'm not
> into the "logical" part of the project as much as I'm into
> the "language" part of it;
The "logical" aspects, I believe, are not particularly related
to tense, nor to physics. The "logic" seed in Loglan (whenever
I use this term, I mean it to include Lojban) has to do with
the grammar including that of the FOLQP (first-order logic of
quantification and predication). This is the kind of logic
that treats assertions such as "for all x there exists a y
such that y is the father of x". The usual notation includes
upside-down A and backward E for the quantifiers "for all"
and "there exists". Loglan has this kind of notation
centrally included in its grammar. I suspect Loglan has
a semantic bias that set theory is the basic description
of the world (I am not using "world" to mean "cosmos", but
rather to mean a model, realized in the speaker's mind,
reflecting the domain of discourse).
[ . . .]
> I'll pipe up again when we start working out
> all the different types of words we need for what "love"
> now covers in English, "amour" in French, whatever the
> equivalent expression is in Chinese.
Has anyone on the list studied this area of semantics?
I have no knowledge here. I suspect that any subtle
variants in the area of love will have to appear after
Lojban leaves the prescription phase and enters the
use phase (then, it'll be a language). And then, only
after 60 years or so of use.
The ancient Greek terms around "love" would be interesting
in any discussion in this area, I think. The destinctions
in those terms are significant to some Christians, I
gather, because of of course the New Testement.
> Jeanne Stapleton
Not the famous actress, I suppose.