Tuesday, April 21, 2009

how brain processes fractions, english loan words from other euro langs


FRACTIONS may be written as the ratio of two whole numbers, but that's not how our brains process them. Instead it seems we respond to fractions directly, without processing whole numbers along the way. This suggests that kids, who often dread fractions, could be taught them more intuitively.

Crucially, control experiments showed that the volunteers weren't responding first to whole numbers, and then calculating the ratio, but were reacting to the fraction itself

Fractions tend to be taught as ratios of whole numbers, but Nieder says this may not tap our neural machinery in the most constructive way, making fractions harder to grasp than they need to be.

D: this seems to refute part of an earlier blog entry by me on the book, "The Outliers". Asian number naming conventions still make more efficient use of working memory though, and perhaps that is where any derivative benefits to fractions come from.

D: It would seem the awkward and opaque English fraction naming conventions may not be such a hindrance after all.
E.g. half, third, quarter...
I'll certainly make not of this in Decimese.
A preposition or prefix for fraction seems chronologically important.


D: oddly, javascript needs to be enabled to read the entire article.

The loanwords which appear in English — such as ‘husband’ — suggest that the invaders quickly integrated with their new culture. The English language soon adopted day-to-day terms, suggesting that the cultures lived side-by-side and were soon on intimate terms. This is in marked contrast to French loanwords. Though there are many more of these terms present in the standard English language — around 1,000 Scandinavian to more than 10,000 French — they tend to refer to high culture, law, government and hunting. French continued to be the language of the Royal Court for centuries after the invasion in 1066.

Another clear indicator of this is the type of loanwords seen in English. The majority of loanwords tend to nouns, words and adjectives, open-ended categories which are easily adapted into a language. But one of the most commonly-seen loanwords in English today is ‘they’ — a pronoun with its origins in Old Norse. Pronouns are a closed category, far more difficult to adapt into a new language, which again indicates a closeness between the two languages and cultures not present in previous or subsequent invading forces.

D: introducing a pronoun is rare and impressive.
Notably, syntax is highly resistant.
Adding a new brick is easy, but changing the mortar mix is not.
The idea of increasing the power of the function words such as pronouns that intrigued me most. Standard vocabulary for Decimese will be left to open-source 'decision by committee'.
Again, "closed class" words are NOT the core vocabulary - they are secondary in Decimese and derived from MELTS - math, ethics, logic, time/space concepts.

Joseph Campbell spoke of the importance of being at peace and in harmony with one's universe, as well as one's society and whatnot. Perhaps a language that is itself in harmony with the universe and its physics can aid in this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

trends in spoken English, thoughts on texting as useful short-hand, more Ranto


Older people often criticize the use of "like," which peaks at about the age of 30. But it doesn't reflect stupidity or poor grammar - it is merely a recent linguistic trend. In fact, Prof. Tagliamonte says, it's not really so new any more, and has reached a saturation point in common conversation. In formal linguistic parlance, the use of "like" is called a "quotative" - a storytelling device used to indicate who said what.

D: It's true - I crawl out of my skin. "Like" is also used in lieu of filler sounds such as um, ah, and so on. Listening to teen girls prattle on while on the bus is my main reason to avoid the bus. I have measured some using "like" at a stacatto rate in excess of once per second.
If I become a U prof, I'm gonna keep a tally on the chalk board of its use.

...the under-40 set also tends to use the word "stuff...
"right" as a sentence ender, for example, "It's a girl, right."
... use of "so" as an intensifier ("it's so cold outside"), and the use of have as a "deontic modal," as in "I have to go."

D: I prefer must instead of have to. I suspect it is more clear to ESL foreigners.
Who knows where English will go in the future?
It's going to be soooo like interesting, right.
The number and letter names are useful short-hand for some syllables.
Some are fill-ins for more common syllables than others.
2 - two, to, too. 4- for.
The other numbers are more rare. Seven sounds like NO other words I can think of.
I suppose 1 could stand in for won. 8 for ate.
Of the letters, B for be, C for see, maybe G for gee, K for 'kay, P for pee, R for are, Y for why.

With proper planning, one could ensure many common prepositions and verbs and interrogatives could be matched to a letter or single digit number.

In Decimese, these could include number naming conventions.
From Deafese, 1-9 was ba, cha, da...
From my alternative Roman alphabet naming convention, bab, skach, dad, fef...
If Decimese uses PB SZ TD FV KG CHSH and possibly THTH and MNNG, these could be the only 'open' vowels. I.e. they are not followed by M, N, or NG.
In written form, if nouns and verbs are all written as proper words, while various "function words" use, say, numbers, then that could be quite clear.

E.g. The dog did bite a boy.
The and a could use numbers.
Did - past tense - could sound like a letter. And so on.

My first idea for letter naming in Decimese was (for PB), Pahan and Haban.
These would not be confused with compound nouns since the -ha- syllable mid-word would always then be followed by another complete syllable with first-consonant form.
E.g. pa-ha-pan. This of course would mean that pa-ha-Ban must be a single concept.

However, my proposal for short-hand favours single-syllable spoken forms to match common function words.
This could, I suppose, recruit special H-derived words.
Ha he hi ho hu.
With 3 endings, we do have 3 sets of 5 more.
Han ham hang, hen...

English: I want to see you. I want 2 c u.
Having different sound for the capital form would be handy, indicating with brevity that the visual form is different.
Thus I want 2 C U would mean something different, and be spoken distinctly from c u.

I once pondered a syllabary for English. I think I ended up with over 1000 symbols.
It's the consonant clusters.
I suppose that HIOXian consonant diacritics could be recruited for this.
The word strengths, CCCVCCC, would be CVC.

1 the
2 be
3 to
4 of
5 and
6 a
7 in
8 that
9 have
10 I

D: definite article, supercommon verb, preposition, preposition, conjunction, indefinite article, preposition, .... supercommon verb, pronoun.

Put another way, pronouns, articles, conjunctions, prepositions, auxiliary verbs/ very common verbs.
Note they are all single syllable words.
Esperanto - I seem to have stalled again. I bogged down in more vocabulary memorizing than needed, spoofed by false cognates, and some strung-together unrelated words for yours, near (feels like French).
Notably, the most common verbs cannot be reduced to one syllable since Espo does not use rigid word order.
Estas - be. Havas- have. That - ke, tio, tiu.


Mr. Barry Crown replied, "Esperanto undoubtedly is easy to learn if you are of above-average linguistic ability and already know a West European language.
So far as China is concerned, in an article which appeared in Esperanto magazine this April, Professor Liu Xiaojun wrote that only those Chinese who have already learnt English or French are able to learn Esperanto easily...

Barry Crown replied, "I think you have changed tack here. Previously you argued that Esperanto is an easy language. Now you are saying that it is easier than language X or language Y. These are two completely different propositions. I think the first proposition is fallacious. So far as the second is concerned, it all depends what other language you are comparing it with and who is the person learning the language."
Barry Crown responded, "If Esperanto is a difficult language to learn (as I think it is), then we can't expect people to take seriously our pretensions to become a world language. Simply saying that Esperanto is easier than English or French is not enough.
Barry Crown answered, "I don't agree with this. It's true, however, that the grammar of Esperanto is an absolute nightmare for most Asians. Many Asian languages have a much simpler grammatical structure than Esperanto."
Barry Crown responded, "No, there is much more that needs to be done... Language reform projects are by no means uncommon in relation to living languages. However, most of these occur in the third world, which is perhaps why most Esperantists are unaware of them and assume that a living language can only change by evolution."
(D: Spanish spelling!)
Barry Crown wrote, "I agree that the grammar and syntax of Esperanto are an absolute nightmare for most non-Europeans. However, there is nothing to be done about it now for the simple reason that Esperantists will never accept changes which go against the Fundamento. Although Esperanto will never be an easy language for non-Europeans, it could become significantly easier for them than it is at the moment.
An all-Esperanto dictionary is utterly essential, of course, but PIV does as much harm as good. Actually, Lawrence Mee and others are currently compiling such a dictionary, which limits itself to (I think) about 6000 roots in actual usage. This, if successful, should do much to improve matters."
Ted Schuerzinger wrote: "There is another language that has solved the problem of neologisms, from what I've read - Icelandic. Apparently scholars of Icelandic come up with ways of expressing all new concepts using originally Icelandic terms. This allows the language to grow, yet still allows Icelanders to read the Eddas that were written 1000 years ago in the form they were written."

D: this general trend in conversation should sound familiar.
It pretty much captures the essence of comments by Espo-ists on this blog!
Amusingly, the position of Espo-ists is that of pro-English factions that are totally oblivious of artificial languages.
"It just works!"
"It's pretty easy."
"It has a community speaking it."
All my university-educated, non-learning-disability white collar friends consider English quite easy. (And not one of them can figure out punctuation!)

I'll give Espo that - there are no apostrophes in sight.

D: 6000 roots as a mid-level compromise? I can be functional, even fluent in Chinese with that many.

D: I actually think Espo would be a useful language for the EU, since members necessarily have been exposed to Greek and Latin-derived languages.
But the Euroclone did not market itself as a regional language- something it was actually capable of.
It was promoted as a WORLD language.
And as I'd said before, that means catering to the Chinese, now more than ever, and more and more as time goes on.
I think a detailed examination would find that Espo is NOT easier than 'any natural language' to Asians.
Which begs the question, why bother?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

number of Decimese syllables pinned down. step 2. esperanto UN 1954 declaration

D: Simply applying multiplication to letter combos to find the number of syllables does not work well. Certain consonant clusters are avoided to appease English speakers.
Plus I cannot use CC- and -VV- for more basic vocabulary. The presence of two consonants or vowels in a row necessarily implies certain variations on the basic root's meaning.

Nonetheless, let us look at these back-of-the-envelope calculations.
Basic syllable : CVc. 6x6x3.
PB TD KG SZ FV CHSH (or TH for lipreading in lieu of SZ).
That's about 200 primitive syllables.
This is misleading, since the nasal consonant word endings denote grammatical elements.
Arguably, we can claim there are really only 36 basic syllables.
That is NOT very many.
The end result will likely be a hybrid of taxonomic and more natural vocabulary. Natural vocabulary will be formed by compounding.
A hound for foxes. Fox-hound. Hound-for-fox.
With more nuance.
Space man. Man from space? Man for/in/to space? Alien or astronaut.

Nominally, expanding our single syllable to include consonant clusters with -LRWY and vowel combos results in the following. (times) so about 1500 possible single syllable words.
That does not include anything using H or beginning in LRW or Y, all of which denote function words or core vocabulary.
(Recall that prior to function words, we generate space/time/ethics/logic/math [acronym SMELT] vocabulary to in turn build closed class words.) Unusual.
A simple two syllable word lacking consonant or vowel clusters amounts to c. 10,000 permutations.

I suspect compound nouns and such will be formed via CV-H plus vowel - CV(nasal ending).
Much like Espo optionally allows dropping the noun -o ending in a compound word.
E.g. mang-chambro versus mango-chambro.
The mid-word H serves the function of nuance for compound words.
Compound nouns are fairly opaque, at least only translucent, certainly not transparent.
Again, consider spaceman and foxhound.
A hound that looks like a fox?

English words go through a fairly predictable evolution in this regard.
A hound for foxes. Fox hound. Fox-hound. Foxhound.
Of course, tacking two syllables adjacent to each other leads to problems.
English tries to have almost twice the phonemes as it has letters.
Placing ending T beside starting H causes confusion.
Is that T-H or TH?
Essentially the word agglutinates due to spelling conventions, and some fuzing occurs.

Decimese has no such problems.
Nor adjacent identical consonants or vowels, like Espo.
Espo almost amounts to dual vowel AND consonant gemination, like Finnish.
Vowel gemination in Japanese, BTW, is often not even noticed by foreigners!

di' -god ("diino" = goddess)

Of course, their advice is just pronounce it slowly and carefully.
In other words, never use clipped, rapid colloquial natural speech.
Great solution. Really.

Most languages require fairly advanced speech features.
For example, arbitrary combinations of voiced and voiceless consonants through a word.
That is why I just plan to use one kind at the start of a word and the other mid-word.
Keep in mind all verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs end in either N, M, or NG.

It's a tradeoff. I wanted very clear, robust and redundant word boundaries.
Until one can parse vocabulary, one merely hears a steady stream of gibberish.
Placing related features adjacent is very important.
For example, French's negation ne...pas can be quite far apart when some verb tenses are considered.
I read a study that said some people will NEVER notice the relation of distant grammatical elements. I suspect this is a function of working memory limits.

So I took the hit, and paid the price. I lost a whole lotta basic possible syllables by not allowing P and B, for example, to operate independently.
This, in turn, forced me to be very economical with basic vocabulary.
It was this design pressure to maximize brevity that resulted in a core vocabulary to precede the closed class words.

I borrowed from Espo for variations on basic word concepts.
Viro- man. Virino-woman (ini).
Sata - full. Malsata- hungry (mal).
But I began with a neutral default.
Tie-there. Chi Tie- there/close (near).
Versus (location) - then the binary state via say an L/R consonant cluster pair to denote near/far. Or trinary, even 4 ways with LRWY.
We can also assume a very common default without LRWY if need be.

Decimese methodically uses consonant clusters and vowel diphthongs to do so.
In other words, instead of Espo's Romance-like syllable-based lexeme, we use single phonemes.
In this respect, Decimese resembles Ro, though only in passing.
English can use 1 or 2 syllables and occasionally just a single phoneme to change meaning in this fashion. E.g. pseudo-, re-, pre-.
I similarly reduced Espo's grammatical ending to a final nasal consonant for brevity.
Espo: noun -o, verb (infinitive) -as, adjective -a, adverb -e...
Note that Decimese, by virtue of rigid word order, can re-use the same ending for both adverbs and adjectives without any confusion.
This approach should be much less taxing on memory and multitasking.
In theory, the noun-verb-noun format of Decimese would allow just 2 endings.
E.g. SVO, subject verb object.
adjective-noun, adverb-verb...
-m -n, -m -n...
With a possible binary state grammatical particle to denote noun or verb as required.

D: see why my HIOXian letter system should portray both voice and aspiration within the letter itself, without reducing to an optional diacritic to do so:

b Bat (unvoiced) Labial unaspirated stop
p Pat (stronger aspiration) Labial aspirated stop

I only intended to use diacritics on vowels to portray octave-like pitch information for the VERSE English variant for my sci-fi novella.

Hmm, Mandarin allow M and N to be word-start syllables.
I fear this would result in the very feature of Espo I earlier criticized.
I.e. 2 words in a row formed CVCV...M and M...
I suppose it IS possible, with rigid word order, to carefully avoid this happening with the same nasal consonant.
This strategy MAY be viable with non-standard-vocabulary items that contain distinctive cues to avoid confusion.
I'll hafta play with that idea some more, and get back to you...

More on Esperanto.

OK I like the fact that we don't need to tack on go and did and other auxiliary verbs.
I like food. I do not like work.
I never really thought about the fact that I add "do" to the negative form.

I checked the basic Espo vocabulary. Not only does biblioteko get used for library instead of the more root-derived libro for book, but it exists in isolation.
Neither biblio nor teko are used in any other words.
Despite initial French resistance (France wanted the French language to continue to be the official diplomatic language), in 1924 the League of Nations put its stamp of approval on Esperanto by recommending that member states implement it as an auxiliary language. In 1954, Esperanto gained additional success as the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized Esperanto as a viable possibility for an axillary language so established official relations with the Universala Esperanto-Asocio (UEA).

Friday, April 3, 2009

espo ipod feed, more on learning espo, on colour names


D: first what I DO like.
- The verbs for know (a fact), to be acquainted with, and to opine are useful.
But then, we have those in English too. Most people won't admit that their opinions are not fact.
now the rest
- There are THREE words for magazine. That is as bad as English!
(gazeto, magazine, revuo)
- Roots are not used methodically.
E.g. book is libro. One would think that a library would be book-place, or libr-ul-o.
Nope. It's biblioteko. Why wouldn't we use libro, librulo, librulisto?
This puts a strain on the learner memorizing basic vocabulary.
- Luxurious is luksa. Sometimes, Big "Z" (Zamenhof) applies a Volapuk-like approach to shortening words. Sometimes they get longer (see historio). No rhyme or reason.
-Voice and voiceless pairs get swapped for no apparent reason.
Dropping a consonant creates more false friends/cognates!

Jacket is jako, not j^ako. It sounds like G not J. Why?!
State is s^tato, not stato. It sounds SH not S. Why?
Drink is trinkas. And so on.

D: unlike Decimese, which has strict rules for voiced/voiceless consonant pairs, depending on whether the letter is at the word start or not, there is no methodology to shifting phonemes with Espo.

If the point of a European-derived vocabulary is ease of learning and word recognition, then these phoneme shifts are downright pernicious.

I get the impression he was more visual than auditory in his thoughts.
Words try to look similar on the page, but this often distorts the sound considerably from an original European word.

D: see if you cannot find a few bewildering words from an expansive Espo word list.

Akilo Achilles
akiltendeno Achilles' tendon

D: reference to obscure mythical figures and assuming an organ-feeling link is opaque to cultural outsiders.
Koro -heart, kora-cordial.
So a user is to just know that hearty/ish/esque is supposed to mean a certain social behavior.

All the bones in limbs could have been described by 6 iterations, right to fingertips.

Language learners want to be able to start communicating with as little rote learning of vocabulary as possible. English is rather good at this, as it is rich in "metonyms" - coverterms like "house" or "clothes", usable as stand-ins for more specialised terms like "palace" or "sou'wester" as well as in self-explanatory compound words like "treehouse" or "nightclothes".

D: from Ranto.
Metonyms are something that a taxonomic philosophical language can do well.
Thing - living thing... animal... mammal... ape... human!
One could always then compound as required from an array of descriptor words.
think(ing) ape.
Oh look - homo ... sapiens!

D: well-thought out site.
After all, there is no need to adhere to English colour-naming conventions.
Nice observation, that there are effectively THREE sets of primary colours.

OR we could have less colours.
After all, if our photoreceptors see red, green and blue, then just having three makes some sense.
Purple could be red-blue. And so on.

Apparently we can detect 10 million colours, when compared side by side.
I suspect women can see more, since the 2 X chromosomes allow 2 forms of one colour.
Hmm, does that mean they could have a set of each of the 3 photoreceptors?
A Decimese math basis, with magntitudes of 10 expressing increasing nuance would work.

D: interesting take on colour.

D: I was thinking a more math-y basis.
I.e. 1 to 7. Possible half/quarters would suffice for daily colours.
Visible light would be um, energy tier 4?

Radio-Microwave-IR - visible ...
Infrared means below red.
Note the plus/minus 3 from visible light implicit in the system. That could be used.