Saturday, December 26, 2009

comparison english/chinese diphthong phonotactics. hioxian...

Standard English diphthongs
RP (British) Australian American
GA Canadian
low [əʊ̯] [əʉ̯] [oʊ̯]
loud [aʊ̯] [æɔ̯] [aʊ̯] [aʊ̯]
lout [əʊ̯]1
lied [aɪ̯] [ɑe̯] [aɪ̯]
light [əɪ̯]1
lane [eɪ̯] [æɪ̯] [eɪ̯]
loin [ɔɪ̯] [oɪ̯] [ɔɪ̯]
loon [uː] [ʉː] [ʊu̯]4
lean [iː] [ɪi̯]4 [ɪi̯]4
leer [ɪə̯] [ɪə̯] [ɪɚ̯]3
lair [ɛə̯]2 [eː]2 [ɛɚ]3
lure [ʊə̯]2 [ʊə̯] [ʊɚ̯]3

Chinese (Mandarin).

Just lemme cut 'n paste here. Macs- I hate 'em.
SIlvia is rebuilding my PC so I can load up the Font design software for me again.
I get by with a little help from my friends...

D: OK so diphthongs- dual vowels- with phonetic meaning and lexemic content are important for Decimese.

Keep in mind that our vocabulary generating, based on the consonant-vowel (CV) syllable versus just a single C or V makes brevity difficult.
Most taxonomic languages suffer from being unclear when heard. If only one sound stands between 2 different meanings, then any background noise can be a problem.
E.g. if roboba is banana, while robobe is orange, then the rest of the word that is not different is of no help.
My CV-syllable basis is a compromise to retain the benefit of 'Ro' while minimizing the shortcomings.
Witness: if robocabam is banana, and robocatim is orange, then we have a much better chance of hearing the difference.
Metronyms seem to be a theme in Decimese.
I studied the top 1000 words of English - the most common ones- this month.
A taxonomic philosophical language like Ro fares pretty well with them.
I found I was trapped in my English language while trying to suss out a few concepts behind most words.
I kept digging up synonyms, or other common words. I can see 'thinking outside the box' will prove hard.
Things like 'kinship', 'social status/organization hierarchy', social prestige and such kept repeating as concepts.

Special syllables.
Anything that starts with an H can be used in this fashion. Hi, Ha, He-...
Similarly, mid-word, embedded inside a word, -hi-, -ha- ... can also denote 'special' meanings.
It's hard to explain with Decimese, since the premise is different that other languages.
Instead of starting at, say, a list of pronouns, I attempt to build them up from one iteration earlier.
I.e. primitive math, geometry (and therefore space) concepts.
MELTS- math, ethics, logic, time, space.
Lots of languages claim they have some special design basis or emphasis. How many deliver?
Math concepts - the space/time - really DO form the foundation behind my closed-class words.

HIOXian. Insight.

I knew that English meaningfully uses voice/voiceless consonant pairs. E.g. P, B.
Chinese instead uses aspiration. P, Ph (breathy). They just use 'B' to stand in for Ph.
I just assumed this meant I'd need to constantly denote voiced/voiceless pairs and standard/heavily aspirated ones.
I was wrong. It means - and this is just in reference to Decimese - that I DON'T need to bother with either!
The HIOXian characters I was making were overly complicated to hand-write in cursive script.
Too many swirls and flourishes. It took too long.
Look at the basis for Decimese words. CV-CV-CV... (end with nasal consonant) - for standard lexicon.
A little more: The very first -word-initial- consonant *can* be voiceless, whereas the internal ones are not.
E..g bapan. (B-P pair).
Keep in mind that word boundaries will still be clear even without this. It is just one additional aid.
Enough of the world cannot use voiced/voiceless consonant pairs that to differentiate between them is a non-starter.
So now the HIOXian cursive script becomes much simpler.
I imagine that the computer font could also neglect both the English voiced/voiceless and Mandarin standard/aspirated dual aspects.
It would be less phonetic and accurate, strictly speaking. But would make for a more spartan and minimalist appearance.

I was having an additional problem with HIOXian - the opposite, in fact.
A character that is TOO minimal tended to have a series of disconnected parts. Worse, the letters could be on either the right OR left hand side of the character space. This is NOT a big deal with COURIER font (regular even spacing)- though a series of such unfortunate characters side-by-side could still cause confusion.
I found myself looking at a much earlier proposed design I had explored.
Let us look at the labial aspect - lips.
Trivia: labia is already plural. Labium is singular. Our bilateral human bodies favour the existence of a 'dual' plural option.
Decimese will be able to capture this nuance with its single/dual/plural system. Decimese will be looting various natural languages to increase the power and scope of its closed class function words.
Ergo, Decimese can express:
1) labium. one lip.
2) set of labium - labia.
3) labia-ez? Presumably multiple sets of the same kind. Or one human's grand total.
I put wayy too much thought into um language LOL. What can I say - I'm a cunning linguist! <:
Cuz the HIOXian letter is really nothing more than a stylized human head in cross-section, only slightly stylized so that it can almost claim to still be pictographic (a picture) instead of ideographic (an idea).
OK. so imagine this human head looking to the left. The lips are obviously the left-most anatomical part that is involved in speech. Logically, the teeth would be next.
When the lips are engaged with each other, for example in the bilabial nasal "M' sound, or the initial part of the plosive 'P', we need to show the two vertical left-side 'meaning segments - bars' in contact.
Here's where it gets interesting. The HIOXian letter, being a static and unchanging figure like any letter (unless we dress up a font with video animation) will have difficulty expressing a change of anatomical positions.
For example, M shows no change in bilabial lip position. Whereas the plosive P obviously has the lips part in the second part o the movement. The air flow bar segments indicate that the P is a plosive movement, with a sudden forceful exhalation.
However we see that the M and P sounds require different later expressions of lip position compared to each other.
I initially considered indicating when lips and teeth were retracted-not in contact. I could also do this with the tongue.
Anyway, instead of denoting retracted, the plosive P sound can use this second position of 'retracted' to denote the second half of the movement.
Note: I struggled with wide/narrow tongue positions. I realized this week that I can express this as an air-flow aspect, with the implication that the tongue is behaving in said fashion.
So the HIOXian figure (think old calculator display) has two bar segments on each facing.
The left/top is top lip/ retracted after movement. By extension, the right/top would be dentition - the top teeth - retracted after movement.
The top 1/2 of relatively vertical bar segments are reserved to indicate tongue position of contact on the mouth top.
(Lip) (Teeth) velar ridge - hard palate- soft palate.
I also struggled with this. Do I need to show adjacent physical contact between body parts?
I.e. if the fricative "F" is top teeth-bottom lip, then should those bar segments be in contact.
I eventually ruled this out cuz I need to free up some segments for additional meanings.
Ergo F would show the lower lip - left/low/vertical and upper teeth- mid/high/vertical bar segments.
There is no change in position during a fricative. Air resistance is denoted via the leftmost bar segments.
Back to the tongue.
I eventually realized that I really DON'T need to denote tongue contact point very specifically.
Only certain combinations are possible. For example, nobody will use the rear raised part of the tongue to make contact with the teeth. I suppose this IS possible. Certainly. an L sound can be had via multiple positions. Different phonete, yes, but same phoneme - same meaning. This is much like how aspiration is unused in English, while remaining present as a physical side effect of bioarticulation.

It is not phonemic in English. In English we say that the aspirated [p] of 'pill ' and the unaspirated [p] of 'spill' are allophone

D: whereas Mandarian Chinese DOES use the P/P(aspirated) pair for phonemic and hence lexical functionality.

Ok so back to the tongue.
So far I think I'm reserving the bottom half of the fairly vertical /|\ internal bar segments for the tongue.
It may be the I will need them to denote details about air flow. If so, I just use one - | - to denote the tongue and let the user figure out the rest.
A theme that is emerging about the HIOXian phonetic, ideographic, anatomical letter system is how optional many details can be. Want a fancy cursive? Indicate all optional details.
In a rush to short-hand yer notes in class while the prof drones on? Less detail.

An interesting side effect of HIOXian is the ability to mechanically compare to figures or a series in a word, and guess how the sounds will deform. This would be based on both sound sequence, as well as syllable stress. Rules to apply could be used without the user even understanding anything about co-articulation or any other aspect of linguistics.
Take, for example, the word "elephant"
e- le- phant. e-le-fant.
E! (primary stress) le (no stress) fant (secondary stress).
We can expect that the second syllable -le- will become truncated and deformed.
The 'eh' sound in colloquial speech become instead the 'schwa' sound from 'the' - think a really brief and weak 'uh'.
The diacritic in HIOXian - strictly optional BTW - would indicate syllable stress.

Origin of HIOXian - it was for a sci-fi short story I am writing. Basically about an after-the-holocaust 'Rosetta Stone'.

The Rosetta Stone is an Ancient Egyptian artifact which was instrumental in advancing modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. The stone is a Ptolemaic era stele with carved text made up of three translations of a single passage: two in Egyptian language scripts (hieroglyphic and Demotic) and one in classical Greek. It was created in 196 BC, discovered by the French in 1799 at Rosetta and contributed greatly to the deciphering of the principles of hieroglyph writing in 1822 by the British scientist Thomas Young and the French scholar Jean-François Champollion. Comparative translation of the stone assisted in understanding many previously undecipherable examples of hieroglyphic writing.

D: how do you get illiterate primitive savages to self-teach how to read???
With a picture of a human head in cross-section. And so HIOXian was born. That was a few years ago.
I'll post the story.

HIOXian diacritic and English syllable stress system.
There are various ways to denote syllable stress. Obviously a mono-syllable language has no need of it- Vietnamese?
English happens to use 3 parts:
1) pitch
2) duration
3) volume.
Normally, writing short-hand suggests a simple mark for primary and secondary stress would suffice.
Because in English this is linked to duration.
The diacritic is UNDER a consonant and OVER a vowel.
An option to speed up reading speed.
CV-CV is then very clear.
Anyway, a syllable MUST have a vowel. While a consonant is optional.
In Decimese, this is NOT true. No syllable is smaller than CV-.
Ergo, in Decimese we have the option to denote syllable stress on ... the CONSONANT.
Weird huh.
Why would we want to do that?
Tonal languages.
Lexical-tone, to be precise. Such as Mandarin Chinese.
Roughly speaking, a high or low or mid pitch changes word meaning.
ma ma ma ma - scold, hemp, horse, mother.
We then have the option later to explore this aspect on the vowel.

Anyway, so on a Decimese consonant, the diacritic (subcritic versus supercritic) would appear as:

| /|\ |
- -

Nice artwork, huh? <:

OK so the simplest thing to do would be to simply use the central post marked to show stress.
But then for large enough words in, say, English, we could not show both secondary and primary stress.
So we use - -. That way, we show timing- duration.
In a language like French, it does not change duration as part of syllable stress.
The additional vertical bars can be used to express *some* pitch and volume information, with 2 levels.
|/ \|
The central bar, well, again it is a nice 'cheat' to short-hand stress info. Primarily for cursive writing to keep it brief.

Suprasegmental meaning - for example, interrogative.
We raise the pitch on the last word in English to show a question.
The presence of 2 levels of pitch means - wait for it- we can start showing prosody date if we wish to also.

So we have a rough outline, in summary of
1) the main square HIOXian character which
a) contain initial anatomical position
b) shows change/movement.
c) shows air resistance and qualities
With a diacritic that shows
a) volume
b) duration
c) pitch.

My room is gonna be a mess. Make lotsa sheets of HIOXian blank characters, explore schemes.
Try to map 50-60 phonemes onto them. !
I am primarily interested, in descending order, in
1) Decimese
2) English
3) Chinese
being mapped well onto the characters.
4) IPA is a consideration, I'd like to be able to express more nuance.
I've finally accepted that I cannot supplant International Phonetic Alphabet in the core character plus diacritic.
I'd hafta use other variations of the HIOXian shape to do so.
For example, the left OR right half of the HIOXian letter plus sub/super diacritic.
OR: one of three tiers, if we treat the HIOXian character space as a stack of 3 diacritics.
But that is for later. I have wayy to much work as it is.
Practically speaking, my first use will be taking notes myself in HIOXian minimalist cursive writing.
That means 2) English is in fact what I should focus on for now.
Only by using my system will I get a feel for its strengths and limitations. Then I can maybe refine it.
One day, maybe it will be ready for primetime.
One day... year.... decade.... lifetime?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

blog entry 99 5/8. how to get computer to 'meet us in middle' for translating

The Dutch language has many combinations of words whose features cannot be explained by simply looking at the qualities of the individual words. The meaning of 'missing the boat', for instance, isn't always the same as 'being too late to catch the boat'. This type of word combination doesn't pose problems to people, but linguistic computer systems, such as speech recognition software or programmes preparing automatic summaries, just don't recognise these expressions.

Grégoire prepared a list of about 5000 unpredictable word combinations. She divided them up into different classes on the basis of their structure. She looked at the rules of singular and plural; for example you can't 'take to your heel', just 'take to your heels', and 'take to those heels' doesn't work either. Grouping together various classes of word combinations can minimise the amount of manual work to incorporate the list into a computer system and it means that the list can be used for many different systems.
D: notably, this idiom is also difficult to new immigrants and other ESL students.

So any strategy to aid the computer will also aid humans.

A most difficult thing to do is to refrain from using idiom.
I find this nearly impossible, in practice.
English has already been etched into my mind, and this playful and cultural phrasing is part of it.
I think speaking less English than I know may be as difficult as learning more.

Idiom: an expression, word, or phrase that has figurative meaning — its implication comprehended only through common use; whereas the literal definition of the idiom, itself, does not communicate its meaning as a figurative usage.

ace in the hole CAN, UK, USA A hidden advantage or resource kept in reserve until needed
Achilles' heel Global A person's weak spot
across the board Global Applies to everyone or everything
against the grain...

Many idiomatic expressions are based upon conceptual metaphors such as "time as a substance", "time as a path", "love as war", and "up is more"; the metaphor is essential, not the idioms.

D: thus my interest in Decimese having overt optional explicit indicators of context.

English: spatial: forward.
Time: forward.
Wouldn't a time/space indicator be nice.

Out of interest, I developed a geometrical representation of pronouns yesterday.
Pretty simple. It just indicated a circle. In it and we have first person. One dot in centre and we have I.
More off -centre but inside and we have we. And so on.
Laying bare such concepts sans picture but using word-phoneme-lexemes highlights this aspect hidden in English.
D: sweet - many chapters from a book on idiom called "Metaphors We Live By".
I'll hafta read that.

I've been reading over Toki Pona recently. That means the good language.
It is by translator Sonja Kisa in Toronto. It received some media coverage.
She's quite the character!
Anyway, TP only has um 130 words.
Then it relies heavily on compounding to express nuance.
Because these compound nouns are defined in detail as standard, that means learning a whole lotta
multiple-word lexemes after the initial 130 words.
In some respects this resembles Ogden's Basic English. It had a basic vocabulary of 850 words.
The key concept here is that of metronym.
A word that captures a whole class of words would qualify. "Thing" or "item", e.g..

So in many respects, we are simply delaying the need to memorize vocabulary.

I'm really enjoying TP.
It explores just how minimal a language can be, and still function.
It shops around in natural language for 'simplifications' in grammar- then uses ALL of them.

The phoneme inventory is extremely well thought out, being nearly universal.
The only thing she could do that remains is to reduce vowel sounds from 5 to 3 - AUI.

Now I am sooo bad at languages that I am still finding learning TP hard.
My roomie is learning it too. He is a natural-language polyglot, and has guffawed at some of the simple parts.
But we are gonna practice speaking it in our household.
I am using 'cheats' to learn the vocabulary.
For example, NASA means, among other things, 'crazy'.
How did I remember it? You'd hafta to be CRAZY to wanna go in space. NASA goes into space.
NA - NAry
SA - SAne.
Many other words, I recall with naughty memory aids. Sex is always more memorable, since it is taboo.
Sex should be used as often as possible. <:

PIPI and LILI suggest use of pidgin reduplication, in these cases to indicate small.
PIPI - insect. LILI- little.

There are alotta tongue-in-cheek in-jokes in the word names, I think.
Ike - as in Nixon- I think J said it means to lie haha.
"I am NOT a crook!"

I've read some Tao. I hadda keep rereading Tsu to understand him, so didn't get that far yet.
Toki Pona is supposed to express Tao philosophy.

Maybe it is having a good impact on me.
I forgave a coworker some minor, old, and ultimately un-memorable slight from years ago.
Doesn't seem much, but it is a start.
I have found recently that I have only been hurting myself with my grudges. Maybe it's time to let them go.
My roomie told me yesterday that "forgiveness is a selfish act" ... I think he's right.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

blog entry 99 3/4. importance of overt social cues, context.

I had considered staying home tonight. Apparently I should have.
But there I was. I needed to pick up (haha. pick up.) my paycheque from the night club where I work.
What I WANTED to do was compare the phonotactics of Mandarin Chinese and Standard English.
This is a precursor to my vocabulary generation in Decimese.

Unfortunately what I did do was go to pick up my pay cheque.
I decided to stay and dance. I had some beer, alternating them with water.
I'm not actually drunk. The amazing part is that the social gaffe would have occurred even if I was sober.
I cannot multitask. I cannot grasp literal and metaphorical interpretations of statements simultaneously.

Aside: I was talking to my dear friend Michelle, of 14 years of acquaintance.
I noted that a man's brain, transferred to a female clone, would fit after a number of decades once it shrunk sufficiently.
She pointed out that observation could be considered very offensive.
Of course, we both knew that women have a similar number of neurons but they are more densely packed.
I didn't mean any offence. She didn't take any. She's known me too long.

But tonight: wow, just wow. Epic social fail. I couldn't make this stuff up. The stuff of LEGEND.

Background information: setting: Me. Two female coworkers. Ex of my last GF. I cannot think straight around him. I get, well, petty and vindictive. I had done so well with invoking Tao and Buhddist mental states the whole night.
Then - just for a minute- I lost it.
I'll make him jealous, I said. Dance with 2 coworkers, both attractive females- we' d been doing that all night.
But that wasn't enough for me. I wanted to make him very jealous.
I'm too polite to suddenly lift up and swing around a woman without asking first.
So I asked them.
Herein lies the problem. I didn't say "lift up".
I said "pick up".

Like I said - I cannot multitask. And would have done the same sober.

Let us examine the multiple word lexemes of "lift up" and "pick up"'.

Lift up - (Webster's Dictionary) - 1. To move in a direction opposite to that of gravitation

That is also synonymous with "pick up" ... well, sometimes. (Palm smack on forehead here).

Pick up - alternative definition - 4 a : to enter informally into conversation or companionship with (a previously unknown person) .

Um, seriously didn't occur to me.
So - wait for it - I suggested this to both of them in sequence. Wasn't sure why they looked so scandalized
Then. I got it.
Not literal/physical "pick up". PICK UP. OMG. Wow. Just wow.
I seriously didn't understand that initially.

Decimese: I've been hashing out schemes to indicate spatial, then temporal, then metaphorical overt indications in my aux-lang. Sadly, my native tongue of English is much more subtle and imprecise. And contextually driven.

Yup. That's right. Instead of 'can I spin the two of you around for minute'?
Yup. Wow.

So I'm sitting here, feeling like a major ASS.
One word. Pick. Not lift...

My language Decimese will have not only indicators (like word particles) for various metaphorical meanings.
Social cues will be one of them..

It gets better.
The staff X-mas party is tomorrow.
And if I don't attend now, I'll be a chickenshit.
So I'm going.
But it feels like facing a firing squad.

I think I have sold everyone on optional overt word particle social cue indicators.

Merry X-mas.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Entry 99 1/2. Sapir's essay, parallels of English and Esperanto. I give up on Esperanto...


We may begin with simplicity. It is true that English is not as complex in its formal structure as is German or Latin, but this does not dispose of the matter. The fact that a beginner in English has not many paradigms to learn gives him a feeling of absence of difficulty, but he soon learns to his cost that this is only a feeling, that in sober fact the very absence of explicit guide-posts to structure leads him into all sorts of quandaries
Anyone who takes the trouble to examine these examples carefully will soon see that behind a superficial appearance of simplicity there is concealed a perfect hornet's nest of bizarre and arbitrary usages. To those of us who speak English from the earliest years of our childhood these difficulties do not readily appear. To one who comes to English from a language which possesses a totally different structure such facts as these are disconcerting.
The precise disentanglement of all these relations and the obtaining of anything like assurance in the use of the words is a task of no small difficulty. Where, then, is the simplicity with which we started? It is obviously a phantom. The English-speaking person covers up the difficulty for himself by speaking vaguely of idioms. The real point is that behind the vagaries of idiomatic usage there are perfectly clear-cut logical relations which are only weakly brought out in the overt form of English. The simplicity of English in its formal aspect is, therefore, really a pseudo-simplicity or a masked complexity.
D: Does this look familiar? Claims of simplicity beyond what can be defended?

D: so the same arguments are used to similar effect by those who
1) like English as the standard
2) wish to reject English as the standard world language.
But do the advocates of 2) fare much better.

I consistently grind to a halt in the middle of my 'basic' Esp-o book.
I've realized it is just too hard for me.
See the entry on Turkish infixes- complexity is NOT the problem.
Multiple uses for the same trick have given me great trouble.
Vocabulary items have.
Endless infixes and forced agreement have.

English IS the superior choice for a world language, insofar as its basic grammar IS more simple.
AND it is. Cuz it doesn't have Latinate grammatical infixes.

Here is a random list of things that irked me the last time I attempted to learn Esperanto:
1) Collegio but pag*o. G and J respectively.
Now I'm sure my bias as an Anglophone will be here.
But the only word I know that sounds like the former is colleague. Not college, not others.
Yet pag*o retained the sound of 'page'... why?
2) Precipe is not related to precipice, but means principally. Why the loss of a critical N?
3) Akvo but lago. No rhyme or reason to voiced/voiceless consonant pairs mid-word.
4) no overt identification of whether verbs are transitive or not. Done to self, or other.
How is this different than Sapir's criticism of English?
5) coverto - false friend. Not covert. Cover, as in letter envelope. So much for natural language being 'easier'.
6) renkontas. Doesn't mean re-enknontas. The sloppy syllable rules mean endless spoofing.
Is that the core word? Is it an infix? Who the hell knows.
Likely this is true of many many others too.
7) mal- means opposite. BUT the word for opposite is - wait for - contrau. Didn't use the prefix as a word root.
8) there are 3 ways to say member-of-nation. Yeah, that's easy.

But the real nail in the coffin was -n.
It can mean object.
It can mean movement towards a position.
e.g. La katos saltas sur la tablon.
- the cat jumps on the table -to.
- the cat jump on-to the table.
So what did I hafta do there?
Keep the whole sentence in my head, in working memory.
Access WHICH meaning of -n it is. Complete. Wow, just wow.
Wait - it gets BETTER.
Adverbs showing place, movement towards, ditto.
Li iris hejmen.
He went home -to.
He went to home, or homewards.
For directional - supren.
... and this has what to do with direct object -n?
The funny thing is that using other nasals at the word's end could have cleared this up.
Hejmem. Hejmeng.

10) also, how do I say "lingvo"? Lin-g-vo. Well that is downright euponious!
Not sure why ng never made the cut.

Ultimately, the problem, IMHO, is a confusion over verbal versus written language.
So busy trying to make words look the same on paper that the pronunciation is lost.
A side effect of slavish adherence to the Roman Alphabet.
11) to review, even common words have diacritics. OK for a few rare of imported ones, but common ones?! leading to...
12) Kipf's Law. Common words should be short.
There - tie. Here - Near/there - C*i-tie (3 syllables!).
Multisyllable common words. Diacritics on common words.
Zamenhof just didn't do his homework!

It's funny that he was aiming at accessible.
To avoid accusations re: cultural neutrality, he didn't want to commit to any particular word order.
That meant latinate infixes to denote grammatical function, and fluid word order.
But THAT was as culturally loaded as word order!

On that note, we could have skipped all those diacritics if we had limited the phonemes to 26- the number of Roman Alphabet letters. Instead, we get this mess that much of the world cannot say.
Though Europe can.

It's a Euro-interlang posing as a world interlang.
Ultimately, it is just European bigotry in the guise of cultural neutrality.
A wolf in sheep's clothing.

I'm done learning Esperanto- or failing to. I am not finding it much easier than French, to be frank (though not Frank).
I couldn't learn French to save my life either.

As soon as we use the fireplace, I'm tossing the Esperanto book in it.
Before I waste any more of my life on the infernal thing!!!
Update- I've read over the list of the most common 1000 English words. There are relatively few repeating patterns and concepts. On track for end of year summary of core concepts for Decimese.
Oh yeah- my system has no more than 26 sounds, maps 1:1 on to the Roman Alphabet- and does so without diacritics!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

just how many "speak Esperanto"?

D: from Wiki.

Native speakers
Main article: Native Esperanto speakers
Ethnologue relates estimates that there are 200 to 2000 native Esperanto speakers (denaskuloj), who have learned the language from birth from their Esperanto-speaking parents.[1] This usually happens when Esperanto is the chief or only common language in an international family, but sometimes occurs in a family of devoted Esperantists.

Every year, 1,500–3,000 Esperanto speakers meet for the World Congress of Esperanto (Universala Kongreso de Esperanto).[43]


the length of study time it takes Francophone high school students to obtain comparable 'standard' levels in Esperanto, English, German, and Italian.[24] The results were:
2000 hours studying German =
1500 hours studying English =
1000 hours studying Italian =
150 hours studying Esperanto.

Finnish linguist Jouko Lindstedt, an expert on native-born Esperanto speakers, presented the following scheme[39] to show the overall proportions of language capabilities within the Esperanto community:
1,000 have Esperanto as their native language.
10,000 speak it fluently.
100,000 can use it actively.
1,000,000 understand a large amount passively.
10,000,000 have studied it to some extent at some time.

D: I wonder if that holds up as a rule of thumb for various other languages.
The whole magntitude- pyramid.
D: I also wonder how other aux-langs stack up for time required to speak them.

I imagine ease-of-learning cannot be an afterthought in language design.
'Tis either a design priority from the beginning or does not happen.

I wonder if anybody has ever thought to compare various aux-langs in this regard.
Aside: A magnitude is a 10x shift.
Decibel means a doubling of sound for every 3 DBs.
A math-based naming convention could encapsulate any variant of such schemes.
For example, a tripling every 4 units of increase. Dunno why one would wish to, but one could.
I imagine a robust fraction naming system would be pivotal.

Well, so the question I pose is how does one promote one's language?
Most auxlangs never develop a significant following. Heck, I imagine many designers cannot themselves speak their own language fluently, LOL.
To summarize the success of earlier attempts:
1) expert professional backing
2) find a niche demographic that emotionally identifies with some purported theme of the language
3) right time, right place
4) an enthusiastic and motivated founder, often a highly charismatic speaker and writer.
5) gain support of various government (? and NGO ?) organizations.

Beyond that, I'd say the Internet is the key to promoting actual language acquisition.
Language lessons that are made by educators that understand teaching of language is key.
I am a literacy tutor of the Laubach school myself.

I wonder about use of a vanity press.
D: nice breakdown of costs.

I am still intrigued by the prospect of using Magnetic Poetry.

There are PDF-digital only sites that sell products.
I personally ordered Cyberpunk 2020 RPG from one. Called drive-thru I think.
No paper- no publishing and S&H costs.
D: DIY fridge magnet word set.
Maybe I'll get motivated enough this winter.
Esperanto really lends itself to this.
There are online virtual Magnetic Poetry sets.
I tried to contact the designer, but failed.
Any Espo-ist out there about to make a custom Esperanto version?
Cuz I'd wanna host something like that!

My roomie J is a talented linguist, a real polyglot.
He said he'd learn Esp-o just so I have somebody to practise with.
He speaks masterful English, tutors in French, gets by in German, and dabbles in Russian and Japanese, and some Chinese.
I'd be curious what his thoughts on Esp-o will be.

Aside; Kiph's Law.
Mod. Greek ("KEH"); Esperanto ("KIE")
Hmm. We say and - VcC.
Greeks say keh- CV. Esperanto says CVv. The small "V" denotes a compound vowel sound, albeit brief.
Hmm. I would have expected Kiph's Law to suggest that more languages would have very simple VC or CV forms of 'and'.
Like French- et.

From the point of view of Decimese, reducing 'and' to some math plus-variant concept is a good starting point.
Then we can 'trick out' the word with various consonant clusters 'n vowel diphthongs for nuance.

OK. So I have only one entry left this year. It'll be an overview of the closed-class English words, reduced to their component meanings. Together with a proposal of how to rebuild these meanings in Decimese.
It'll be my first vocabulary items.

LOL and finally I'll have something concrete enough to be criticized. I'll hafta learn to defend my own languge.
So far I've been all offense and no defense. It is easy to criticize, but much more difficult to produce quality work...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Esperanto - years later, still sucking.


D: I chopped down my Basic Esperanto book. I lost the chapter headings and page numbers in the process.
It doesn't fit anywhere. It is this annoying mid-sized paperback.
I found I kept leaving it at home. It wouldn't fit in any pockets.
This seems to be the most common how-to Espo book.
Yet another oversight a century later that helped to doom the language.

Mandatory Esperanto rant:
Kiu- interrogative for who.
Then I notice Kiuj - plural interrogative for who.
OMG. Every detail that English lacks is another nail in the coffin of an auxiliary language.
My brain hurts just thinking about it!

Then I noticed the basic vocabulary items of boy, son, and brother.
Boy- knabo (kuh-nah being such a common sound, you kuh-nah-oh what I mean? [=)
Son- filo. As in filial.
Brother- frato. As in fraternal.
These are 3 separate vocabulary items that must be memorized separately.
Let's analyze the lexical content of each word.
Boy - a male child from birth to adulthood
Son - a human male offspring especially of human beings
Brother - a male who has the same parents as another or one parent in common with another
D: a quick aside. I took a feminist soc class at Windsor U.
I wrote a paper on um reproductive techonologies, I think.
I used the terms male and female throughout it in lieu of boy/girl and man/woman.
It turns out that turned the Prof bonkers! Oops, LOL.

OK, so boy is the more basic of terms. Both brother and son (as well as father I suppose) all denote boy/male in terms of relative relationship.
Kinship terms are some of the most primordial language terms, ubiquitous in every culture.
Odd that Mr. Zamehof, aka the Big Z (zzz...) didn't infix this particular to death, like he seeemed to do with everything else.

Here is where the approach of Decimese would work very well. Time and biology are innate to it in a way not possible as an after-thought.
MELTS - math, ethics, logic, time, space.
At the very heart of the language design, giving it direction and emphases unique to Decimese.
Once we have defined boy as human/male/ time-less, some, then
we can develop variants for kinship that show relative relationships.

A summary of Decimese design principles.

D: I summarized this for an e-mail to my sister.
I hope she has the good sense to delete these rants I write after too much coffee. [=

For those of you who are not familiar with my blog, I hope to make both a new world language and writing system.

The hypothetical reason is
- United Nations will be 100 in 2045
- League of Nations nearly adopted Esperanto
- but didn't
- maybe (???) there will be some enthusiasm for a world language by then
- English is hard for much of the world to learn
- English dominance is waning
- The Mandarin Chinese language is waxing - rising
- Mandarin Chinese is difficult for, well, most of the world
- a logical solution now and then is a compromise language easy for both English and Chinese speakers.

... Decimese!

Language alphabet stuff will cost few hundred. Need texts to figure out damn font editor program.
Silvia is rebuilding my PC on the weekend so I can start playing with it at least.
My letters should be first cuz IF (if) the Language X Institute (check 'em out) adopts it as their proposed standard for a world language, then I have skilled and influential professional backers.
There is a nice documentary out there called the History of English- enjoyable.
After lunch with Fotini, I'll complete the first installment of Decimese. I.e. the closed class function words.
The stages are
1) study all repeating themes in basic vocabulary words. E.g. I, you, he, it - singular vs plural. Et al.
2) then reassemble them - just use chart at first to show all variables. E..g They - out/far (space terms), plural(math term), pronoun indicator (grammatical).
3) then condense using a compression cypher. I.e. use of consonant clusters and vowel diphthongs to repack into something about the same size as a standard pronoun.
Kiph's law - rule really- says common words will also be smaller, more brief.
It is right annoying when they are not.
If I invest the time and energy in keeping the 'mortar words' small, then the size of the 'brick' words- lexicon - will not matter so much. I intend to use a large number of basic concepts, and then heavily use compounding, complete with some compressed prepositions to indicate relationships.
I don't believe in smaller bricks than that. Too few basic vocabulary items, and meanings are too
vague and ambiguous.
Sure, more single-vocabulary (complex syllable structure) items makes for brevity.
But it results in more lexicon being brute-force memorized. I for one have a poor memory.
For example, P-I E protolanguage has a term for marriage. It is give-heart.
Marry-age. Fusion, agglutination - it has become less obvious. Bad example I guess.
I consider use of complex sylllable structures to generate more core vocabulary to be a trap, a dead end.
Painting into a corner. If we reserve consonant clusters/vowel diphthongs for some trans-word
generic meanings, then we can apply a handful of rules repeatedly to compact words.
I am trying to mitigate the weakness of my hybrid taxonomic language approach.
Part taxonomic, part word-compounding for vocabulary.
I have no dogmatic adherence to either system. Fork or spoon? Spork! <:

By backing up one additional step beyond other aux-langers, my language design should
be innnovative, interesting and perhaps more flexible.
Other than a few common examples, I have no desire to generate much standard vocabulary.
I wish to use a Lojban/Linux approach. Let a community of online enthusiasts devote their energy.
So long as they are guided by the language design principles, it should work out OK. ...

D: plus the HIOXian letter system. Not really an 'alphabet' per se.
Optimized for Decimese's phonemes, but it can be adapted to anything the IPA can express. And should do so much more clearly and methodically! Without the need for multiple letters the Americans use with the Roman Alphabet in lieu of IPA's symbols.
Optimized for computer monitors and good visual clarity. A 1:1 letter/phoneme relationship. Starting fresh with a new letter system, to avoid confusion with existing sound/letters.
IPA contains many 'false cognates' of a sort.

OK here is my promise: I'll summarize all variables in the 300 or so words in English's closed class function words by year's end. This is my 97th blog. I'll make that this year's final- 100th - blog entry. There.

A summary of Decimese design princples.