Monday, April 14, 2008

rise of the isolating aux-lang
"Professor Lancelot Hogben devised Interglossa while fire-watching on the roof of Aberdeen University during a war.[1] He was inspired to remove all inflections from Interglossa by the publication of Latino Sine Flexione by Peano in 1905 but thought that the list of vocabulary was too extensive to be of much use as an IAL. For this reason he made Interglossa's vocabulary much more basic. A draft of Interglossa was originally published by Hogben (by the publishing company Pelican Books in London) in 1943 as "Interglossa: A draft of an auxiliary for a democratic world order, being an attempt to apply semantic principles to language design". Hogben listed 880 classical words and roots that he believed would suffice for basic conversation."

D: that Latino Sine Flexione.
"Though Peano removed the inflections of Latin from nouns and adjectives, he did not entirely remove grammatical gender, permitting the option of a feminine ending for occupations. The gender of animals is immutable. All forms of nouns end with a vowel and are taken from the ablative case, but as this was not listed in most Latin dictionaries, he gave the rule for its derivation from the genitive case. The plural is not required when not necessary, such as when a number has been specified, the plural can be read from the context, and so on. Verbs have few inflections of conjugation; tenses and moods are instead indicated by verb adjuncts. The result is a change to a positional language."

D: much of the world cannot use infixes adeptly. That means using isolated words instead of adding elements to existing ones.
Lang26 doctrine agrees.
"[3] As for the grammar, we should look to the IAL's priorities. To begin with, the IAL will mainly be used for essential international communication. It will be a true auxiliary language - mostly limited to and focused upon practical necessities. As such, its grammar might well be initially based on the pidgin or Interglossa (original Glosa) model - strict word-order, three tenses and no inflections. The opening phase of the IAL might also be regarded as a global pidgin in terms of its chiefly mundane concerns, and like these utilitarian tongues, which are designed for real-time situations where context provides physical subjects and objects and most of the action, it will require hardly any grammar."

D: An aux-lang must decide whether it is to be a first or second language.
Will it be learned in childhood, when complexity is not so hard, or in adulthood when it is hard?
Synthetic Grammar

Greek, Latin, Arabic and French - major IALs up until recent times - have grammars which employ affixes rather than fixed word order, i.e. they are synthetic rather than analytic. Synthetic grammar is more complex, and can be impenetrable, but it does have the ability to reduce speech and text-length - since affixed words effectively contain a phrase or clause within themselves.

The decline of these great languages as IALs is related to the spread of universal education and literacy. In days when education was highly selective, an ability to cope with classical languages and synthetic grammar was par for the course. The organised movement to reform English spelling accompanied the advent of mass education for much the same reason (LANGO Chapter 9)."

D: a handful of talented academics can learn a synthetic language as adults. Scribes historically, and linguists /classics majors more recently. But for a language intended for the masses...

"Analytic Grammar

Analytic grammar facilitates the laboriously learnt second-language, painfully acquired in isolation or small groups, much more than the mother-tongue absorbed amid the varied life of a speech community; the analytic sentence parses itself for the benefit of the busy or discouraged student. Another important consideration is that those with a synthetic mother-tongue can easily understand analytic grammar, but not vice-versa"

D: an interesting solution if a language that begins as a mass-learned second or third language, an analytic aux-lang. But one that can become or also has a mode that is synthetic.

My VERSE is much like that. Somebody who grew up with it could use tone for supplemental detail. However if talking to somebody not so adept, the tones can be 'unpacked' into the original word particles used to denote those details. If fluent, they can optionally use one or the other, or both.What they choose would be based on the demand for brevity, redundancy (clarity) and simplicity.

That remind me of a sign I once saw in a mechanic garage. You can have 2 out of 3 - fast and cheap but not good. Good and fast but not cheap ... It was funny.

Well, language is much like that. We choose design priorities and must sacrifice other elements to get there.

And example of a fictitious language that chooses fast as the design priority is Heinlein's Speedtalk.

"Speedtalk is an idea for a new language put forth by Robert A. Heinlein in his novella, Gulf (1949). Speedtalk was defined as an entirely logic-based language which, in the course of the fictitious work, served its purpose as an intriguing plot device. The basic concept was that the conlang would utilize a complex syntax with a minimal vocabulary and a phonemically extensive alphabet (including such letters as œ, ħ, ø, and ʉ), and it was therefore considered extremely efficient. In one example (the only one given), a single word meant "The far horizons draw no nearer."

Many of these ideas have been incorporated into the Ithkuil language."
"In the 1940's Robert A. Heinlein wrote a science fiction story named Gulf, which described the exploits of a society of supermen who used a language named Speedtalk. The premise, as Heinlein described it, was that every word in the language consisted of only a single phoneme, and thus each sentence would be only as long as a single English word. Heinlein argued that people who spoke such a language would be able to think more quickly as well, by virtue of the fact that their thoughts would all be in Speedtalk. As a result, they would be able to squeeze centuries of experience into a few decades of calendar time and would experience a longevity of the mind, if not of the body"

D: one can see echoes of the taxonomic languages like Ro, with their emphasis on a 1:1 ratio between phoneme and lexeme.
English occasionally has only a minimal phoneme pair difference to denote different meaning. The prefix in REview and PREview comes to mind.

D: my VERSE does not use rising/falling pitch or gemination. Gemination is varying phoneme duration to denote meaning. Finnish uses this for both vowels and consonants. Japanese uses it for vowels only. I knew an ESL teacher who worked in Japan. She was not even aware that Japanese had vowel gemination!
I find Speedtalk has a bias. The emphasis on data density per SYLLABLE ignores data density per unit of TIME. Mandarin has various advanced rules to shorten the duration of their lengthy rising/falling tone. I find a pitch register system, where the tone is held steadily for each syllable allows fast syllables. The data density gains of a rising/falling tone and geminating language are largely illusory. Per second, the data density and relative simplicity of a pitch register system wins out, IMHO.

I saw some show about a crisis on board some passenger jumbo jet. The human factors analysis indicated that during certain staccato exchanges in English, the data rate was about 1 per second.

In written form, the data rate was about 2/3 per letter. Some digraphs/trigraphs and silent letters reduce the efficiency.

Imagine a data rate for VERSE with 24 quarter pitch notes available of a magnitude shift more than English! And a writing system - Hioxian - that has a perfect 1:1 ratio, as well as certain truncations for consonant clusters and using variants of the number naming convention in Decimese for a syllabary.

English quirk of the day. Just one verb tense reviewed.

QOTD: "An international auxiliary language should serve as a broad base for every type of international understanding, which means, of course, in the last analysis, for every type of expression of the human spirit which is of more than local interest, which in turn can be restated so as to include any and all human interests. "

The Function of an International Auxiliary Language

1 comment:

Dino Snider said...

Use drag-and-highlight. Dang, some passages didn't display properly.
Maybe the colour was wrong...