Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Extrapolating Lang 13, Lang39 and Lang65 from LangX

D: today I discuss the mid-level LangX and how it will very likely closely resemble Esperanto. I suppose this is an olive branch extended to all the Espo-ists out there.
I read over Rick Harrison's "Farewell" essay yesterday. Like sports fans, everybody roots for the local team, at the expense of every other. However, I think the subjectivity of the subject is not quite as severe as he suggests. Having read a book on pidgins and creoles, there IS a definite easier mode for an interlang. It closely resembles LangX's Lang26.
LangX has already accepted that certain design principles versus any particular designer's vocabulary are the important thing.
Yes, langX does not consider Esperanto an ideal Lang26.
(Aside: counting the 6 diphthongs as phonemes for the purpose of tallying up phonemes is of use, assuming every language is compared in the same fashion. I suppose tallying up acceptable letter combinations would also be of use, particularly consonant clusters. Rules for syllable permutations are as important for ease of speaking as rules for isolated phonemes.)

Let us consider what a mid-level language in the LangX scheme, Lang39, might look like.
I use 39 since it is a multiple of 13 and is easier for me to remember.


Lang29 Grammar

These provisional (and still very incomplete) conclusions re the right grammar for Lang29 might be summarised:

  1. analytic grammar - strict word order - SVO syntax

  2. no case inflections, i.e. no genitive or plural noun inflections

  3. no verb declension or inflection, including imperative/infinitive

  4. all tenses/moods/voices shown by auxiliaries

  5. no word class inflections: noun, verb stem, adjective and adverb are identical

  6. adjective(s) always precede noun; adverb(s) always follow verb

  7. maximum succinctness in grammar and word-formation

  8. form of negation and omission of copula

  9. use of anaphora rather than correlatives for recursion

  10. no rules re prosody: users of an IAL should strive only to be heard

  11. single head-word for interrogative

D: by language 39, we can assume some of these forms might be methodically and carefully reintroduced. Like a poorly healed fracture, the 'wrong shape' of a natural language must be broken and then set by a doctor (aux-langers) to heal properly (rational grammar design).

(I know VERSE is not culturally neutral, with English being the default choice for vocabulary, but it does show that to rationalize English, one would need a transition period of an English that does not meet the standards of being well spoken and well written. This would trouble English speakers to no end. They would constantly be saying, "no, you said that wrong- here's how to say it".)

D: Esperanto has a mere SIXTEEN rules of grammar.
In this respect, it is a nearly ideal IAL, once some grammar is acceptable.
I don't think the idea of grammatical rules is the part that is difficult to learn.
Perhaps at Lang26 we can have grammar of some sort, so long as the other components are very easy to learn. I suppose I am talking about a Lang13/Lang26 distinction.

These rules are certainly easier than English or any Romance language I know of.

A LangX Lang26, with the gradual reintroduction of grammar and synthetic affixes would look likely have grammar rules very similar to Espo.
However, like my VERSE project, not before jettisoning the other elements that don't belong in a Lang13 (training wheels version) or even a Lang26 (first creole-esque version).

We stand on the shoulders of that giant Zamenhof, really we do.
But this 'thriving community' of a tongue that 'just works' and is 'much easier than English' is
1) unheard of by anybody I know of not in certain niche fields
2) works somewhat better than English
3) is not THAT easy, given that English is VERY hard in the details.
I'm not particularly good at languages. I grew up monolingual. I have always been good with English, getting high marks. My essays were a bit weak in university, though. I am gradually improving.

(see the bottom of this blog for my experience with French - shudder!)

I wondered if Lang53 was the ultimate form of LangX.

D: of course, Heinlen's SpeedTalk is fictional. Use of subtly different sounds amounts to a very-minimal-pair difference. Unless spoken crisply, slowly and without background noise, it would be nearly impossible to detect all the sounds.

A designed language emulates many aspects of Speedtalk.
The lexicon of Ithkuil potentially consists of 3,600 word roots; so far only about a thousand are assigned with definite meanings. Each root consists of 2 consonantal “radicals”, and can derive uncountable lexemes through Ithkuil’s complex rules of morphophonology, which involve both consonantal and vocal mutation, shifts in syllabic stress and tone, and divers affixes.

D: LangX acknowledges that Lang53 is only suitable as the first mother tongue, learned in childhood. That goes double-plus for the above 'Lang65'!

That alphabet looks pretty awesome. Yeah yeah, "writing system".

D: I imagine the syllable form would be very simplistic, closely resembling Toki Pona's.
Again, likely with 3 vowels only (AUI) and a few more consonants.

D: why do I use multiples of 13?
They work better for offloading word particles into affixes (in my Decimese system, onto consonant clusters). If the point of synthetic affixes is brevity, then doesn't that make a case for no more syllables?
At the multiples of 13 of 13, 26, 39, 52 and 65, the simple 13 increment is convenient.
Half of 13 is 6.5, so doesn't work too well for half vowels and half consonants.
Also, even Lang13 has challenging vowels with 6 of them.
A mechanism would be needed to handle the 6th one for some speakers in an alternative way.
A mechanism for the 4th and 5th vowels is also a good idea.

The only universal phonemes are ??? PBM and U? That is close.
Obviously, a Lang6.5 is far too anemic to even consider.

Since natural languages will remain the first mother tongue for a long time to come, maybe we should aspire to be the second childhood tongue.
At first, a Lang13 must be aimed at adults This severely restricts its complexity.
But by Lang26 and particularly 39, the child's brain plasticity allows more options.
In particular, the language feature of many phonemes necessitates waiting to be the very first, or at least co-first mother tongue.
That first year of a baby's life is critical to learn phonemic distinctions by meaningfully using that sound in communication. Finding a nanny that is able to speak with the full repertoire of phonemes would be difficult. Until Lang53 or thereabouts is widely spoken by adults that learned it in childhood, such a demand would amount to elitism.

(I tackle this in the VERSE English ESL method/creole-turned-auxlang in a story. The group that spoke the century-later highly tonemic version could not have been taught in a typical small family setting. The amount of effort that went into teaching them would have been colossal.)

The interesting implication of this is that many other elements of the LangX series can be introduced early on, but the phonemic repertoire must wait for Lang53.

D: stopping at 26 letters without diacritics seems plausible for the near future.
That immediately rules out most Euroclones.,
Lojban would squeak by with 27 letters.
The sheer hassle of using shift or function constantly to type ensures this.
The QWERTY keyboard favours 26 letters.
I don't imagine diphthongs are any faster than using shift, though.

So I have reviewed the idea of evolution from Lang13 to 26, 39, 52 and even 65.

D: Hey, I'm a "troll" apparently.

Why you should not pay any attention to the analysis on Esperanto authored by JB Rye.

Now and than there are people who are expressing their opinion on Esperanto. In some cases they are tearing apart the photo of the founder, LL Zamenhof, as they do not appreciate that some users of Esperanto are worshiping him almost as a God. In other cases one can detect a certain anti-Semitic strike in the critic. In other cases there are persons who claim they are "linguists" and that they have found grave errors in the language. One of those is JB Rye who has dedicated a page on the subject: Why you should not learn Esperanto at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto/

I did visit the pages in which this obscure linguist (possibly a troll), JB Rye, is presenting an "analysis" of the Esperanto language.

Below (in bold) are the criteria that JB Rye lists as disadvantages re Esperanto. He claims that he found those flaws during his "analysis".

First of all: If the author does not have the competence to use UNICODE than He should remove this "Notation" as it is quite clear that this part is giving the impression that it is a "troll" who is trying to discredit the phonetic system in Esperanto.

D: (I think this author means "then", not "than". <:)

Here you can see the correct letters that JBR is unable to use. Ĉ;Ŝ;Ĝ;Ĥ;Ĵ,Ŭ;ŝ,ĉ,ĝ,,ĥ,ĵ,ŭ. The letters in Esperanto represents a unique sound / phoneme which is pronounced in the same way in any combination.

D: here's how to use diacritics.


D: I downloaded Ek. Since all the instructions are in Esperanto I cannot read them.

C ^.

Yeah that is as close as I could get.

D: regarding Rye being a "troll" (and by implication so am I), doesn't that make Zamenhof the original troll?


Zamenhof invented the Esperanto word-formation system without bothering to attempt to justify it except by pointing out that ... it works! Couturat, the prime mover behind the Ido conspiracy, felt that this was a major failing in the Esperanto word-formation system -- that it had no supporting theory to justify it. (Though Ido's derivational system did not work as well in practice as Esperanto's, it at least had a theory...)

To answer Couturat, René de Saussure, a member of the Lingva Komitato, began to put together a theoretical basis for the Esperanto word- formation system. His basic theory was expanded by Kálmán Kalocsay, included by Kalocsay and Gaston Waringhien in their Plena Gramatiko de Esperanto, and eventually adopted by the Academy of Esperanto.

The basic idea behind this theory is that every root in Esperanto -- the root, not the word, is the basic unit of Esperanto -- has an inherent grammatical quality. For example, the root ŝton' ("stone") is a noun, the root kur' ("run") is a verb, and the root ruĝ' ("red") is an adjective. Grammatical endings of -O, -I and -A respectively are therefore redundant.

Not all Esperanto speakers were particularly happy with this essential "westernizing" of the word-formation system; some (particularly Kalocsay's countryman István Szerdahélyi) continued to insist that, in fact, roots have no grammatical category whatsoever.

As usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. It is possible to categorize Esperanto roots in a number of ways, but one of these is into the categories of object roots (ŝton'), action roots (kur') and attribute roots (ruĝ'). This leaves some questions floating around -- for instance, where do we put roots that describe states, and which might either fall into the attribute category or be linked together, as we often do in the west, with actions? For the nonce, let's leave them hanging loose -- something we could not do with the rather rigid grammatical-category description.

D: that's right. Zamenhof was an amateur. He didn't even have a grammatical theory! <:

Neither do I. I'll get around to reading some book called "The Logic of English Grammar" one day. Right now I'm chipping away at "Gravity's Rainbow" and "Honor: A History".


D: apparently a more thorough analysis.


About my linguistic background:

I'm not particularly good at languages. I grew up monolingual. My good English allows me to speak well. My spelling is better than most, though I consider learning English spelling a waste of my time and energy. <: My essays were a bit weak in university though. I am gradually improving. In grade 7, I finally encountered French for the first time. I caught up the missing year when I moved and got top marks. They gradually decreased through high school. I took both grade 13 OAC courses, getting low 60s marks both times. I finished being unaware of some phonemes (nasalized vowels), syllable timing (regular timing, different stress system), being unable to juggle the double negative indication (ne... pas) with irregular verbs (don't ask me) and various verb tenses (anything but simple present tense).
Asking me to speak in anything other than sporadic monosyllables now is impossible.
I am unable to parse word boundaries in spoken French, let alone figure out the subject matter. I take many seconds to recall the meaning of any particular word. The variable word order and excruciating word order variations strung together with hyphens of variable forms leaves me drawing a total blank.
In other words, having completed advanced grade 13 French, I'm above average. But not by much. So when I say a language is hard to learn, I speak for the majority of humanity!
I tried Espo. I got more and more frustrated - like most people will. Lacking a strong motivation (like NEED) to learn Espo, I gave up. Now, if it had proven to resemble Lang26 instead, I think I would have stuck to it.
The fun thing here is that any shot at my language skill is a shot at the purported target audience of an aux-langer - the unwashed masses of people in the world.

D: I could get by in sign language for a while. I've lost most of it now. I have rigid hands, and cannot touch my pinkie to my thumb. For signing, I effectively have a speech impediment.
Parsing word boundaries in ASL is much easier. However, it takes me so long to access the meaning in my brain that I fall many signs behind by then.
If you ever learn ASL, practice your alphabet to death, and look in a mirror while signing.
And learn from a cute blond coffee date. [=
She inspired me to base my first langmaker language design on visemes.
She assumed I could lipread, so attempted to supplement her signing with lipping the words, whereas I cannot multitask whatsoever. I must have seemed a bit slow to her.
I'd like to go to school in T-O for ASL. My nation now treats access to government services in ASL on par with French.
I know some military and scuba signs too, being a scuba diver and ex-reserve army. A simple, one-handed version is sure to turn up in my fiction, LOL.
A viseme-based basic auxlang could be accomplished with a simple adaptation of an existing one. I am sure I should revise the phonemes I linked to the various visemes.

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