Friday, December 24, 2010

dog knows 1000 words

Watch Pilley give Chaser some impressively complex commands -- combining three verbs with three nouns -- in the video below. She understands the verbs “nose,” “get” and “paw.” Her reward is playtime with “Blue,” a little ball she chases across the room. For a whole collection of Chaser videos, click here.

She learned common nouns that represented categories, such as “ball,” and she learned to infer the names of objects by their association with other objects.

Heck, that is Ogden's Basic English.

I am curious if any abstracts were taught.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

dyslexia. brain site. about reading problems.

Did you know that 10 in 1 people are dyslexic? 10 in 1! <:

Dyslexia, a brain-based learning disability that impairs a person's ability to read, affects 5 to 17 percent of U.S. children. Affected children's ability to improve their reading skills varies greatly, with about one-fifth able to benefit from interventions and develop adequate reading skills by adulthood. But up to this point, what happens in this brain to allow for this improvement remained unknown.

D - Written, spoken and both.

D - I think those who are dyslexic are often also innumerate.

The complexity of a language's orthography or spelling system – formally, its orthographic depth – has a direct impact on how difficult it is to learn to read that language. English has a comparatively deep orthography within the Latin alphabet writing system, with a complex orthographic structure that employs spelling patterns at several levels: principally, letter-sound correspondences, syllables, and morphemes. Other languages, such as Spanish, have alphabetic orthographies that employ only letter-sound correspondences, so-called shallow orthographies. It is relatively easy to learn to read languages like Spanish; it is much more difficult to learn to read languages with more complex orthographies, such as English.[48] Logographic writing systems, notably Japanese and Chinese characters, have a purer direct relationship between the sound of a word and the representative visual symbols, which pose a different type of dyslexic difficulty

For languages with relatively deep orthographies, such as English, French, Arabic or Hebrew, new readers have a great deal more difficulty learning to decode words. As a result, children learn to read more slowly.
D -
D: brain basis for literacy.

In today's edition of Nature, researchers from the UK, Spain and Colombia describe a study working with an unusual cohort: former guerrillas in Colombia who are re-integrating into mainstream society and learning to read for the first time as adults.

"Separating out changes in our brains caused by learning to read has so far proven almost impossible because of other confounding factors," explains Professor Cathy Price, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at UCL (University College London). "Working with the former Colombia guerrillas has provided a unique opportunity to see how the brain develops when reading skills are acquired."

D - predict language and math ability by finger length ratio.

They then divided the length of the index finger by that of the ring finger -- to calculate the child's digit ratio.

When they compared this ratio to the children's SAT scores, they found that a smaller ratio (i.e. a longer ring finger and therefore greater prenatal exposure to testosterone) meant a larger difference between ability in maths and literacy, favouring numeracy relative to literacy.

When they looked at boy's and girl's performance separately, the researchers found a clear link between high prenatal testosterone exposure, as measured by digit ratio, and higher numeracy SAT scores in males.

They also found a link between low prenatal testosterone exposure, which resulted in a shorter ring finger compared with the index finger, and higher literacy SAT scores for girls.


D: looks like competition between the sexes for ideal genes.
Um, my fingers say I'm supposed to be hyperaggressive... hmm.

Aside: my premise for the vowel system for CVN (see other blog) was wrong.
I just never looked at it closely. I just assumed the progression of vowel universality was
1) AUI - universal
2) Italian-style ah eh ee oh oo was next - Espo style.
But my design premise is NOT what most language backgrounds can handle first.
It is, first and foremost, accessible to Chinese speakers.
When I finally looked at the Mandarin vowels, I discovered they do no match 2).
D - I find the match of vowel letters to sounds confusing.
Don't forget the dual vowels.
13 compound finals: ai, ao, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, üe, uei, uo
a - far, father
e - send, very
i - sit, it
yi - machine
o - saw, all.
u - too, loop
u diacritic - german u. yeeee/yuuu?
The German long "ü" and short "ü" are two of the hardest sounds for the English speaker to master, as there are no direct equivalents in the English language. (ü ) similar to ew in pew; more like ue in French rue.

D - sorry, this one gets chopped. An Anglo is gonna get killed by it.

D - OK I cannot hear the difference between the A in father and all.

D - the sites don't seem to agree with each other on vowel sounds.

Anyway, if I need to discard 1 vowel and collapse 2 others together, that does not
leave much.

The 'intermediate' level of CVN with vowel diphthongs will likely be the default version for Chinese Speakers.
Not that the initial M and er final get discarded.
The goal is to have words and sounds that clearly indicate word boundaries.
That means words cannot appear the same both forward and in reverse.
There must be word-initial ONLY (and mid) consonants, and word-final ONLY.
Half the Cantonese word-final consonants get rejected for this reason.
This leaves the tricky case of M.
In word initial position it precludes word-final.
And Mandarin speakers can use it word-initial but not word-final - at least easily.
D - so why would I want M word-final only?
I end up with more possible one syllable words.
Though this is misleading, since the basic structure of CVN (formerly Decimese) is
1) CV 'core' - this resembles the Espo system of lacking a grammatical element
2) a word -final nasal consonant then denotes grammar - noun, verb, adjective, adverb
Word order takes care of the rest.
Again, I CAN make a system that would allow only -N and -NG word final, with M- in word initial position. We'll see.
Also note that groups of sounds like PBM are the same lip-reading position as visemes. I'd really like to retain a simple system to port over my Visemese to CVN, as with my one blog entry on Decimese.

Mandarin syllables. There are 22 initials and 35 finals. Add the four tones, and you get a theoretical maximum of 3080 possible syllables. But, as you can see from the chart, only about two-thirds of the possibilities are actually used, which means that Mandarin uses only around 2000 syllables (I didn't count).

D: since Mandarin speakers say two words back to back that are structured CV and M, then saying CVM (consonant -vowel- M nasal consonant) is not much of a stretch for them.
They'll also hafta just use the 'empty space' in their syllable chart. Again, not too hard - I hope.

The finals m and ng can only be used as standalone nasal syllables.
D - interesting... M, N, NG as a set of 3 core denoters?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

the other side of propaganda. feminism. espo.

D - just finished Journey into Russia by Post.
Set in the 60's Soviet era.

He was shocked by how brainwashed the masses were about America.

He quoted General Gunther.
That he thought "damned English" was just one word for the longest time.

Then Post mentioned the adjective-noun or noun-noun compound nouns (not noun phrases) that were invariably invoked by Soviets.
War-mongering imperialists.
Heroic labour.
And so on.

The term war-mongering ... labour, or Soviets, et al would make no sense.
When the two words together make sense, but apart do not, I'd argue that we might as well have them portrayed as a single concept.
heroic-labour. heroiclabour.

D - why is this interesting?
It is the opposite of the type of propaganda that Noam Chomsky discusses.
He spoke of high-level single word abstracts muddying the waters of clear thought.
E.g. democracy. Versus 'popular representation'.
What we see in Rush's passage is the opposite. By connecting 2 or 3 terms into a compound noun, we find that the potential nuance and diversity those words ought to be able to portray is lost.
E.g. cowardly labour.
E.g. pacifistic imperialism.

I took liberal arts in the 90s - the heyday of political correctness.
I have remained highly sensitive to feminism and its attempt to control language.

A noun phrase stands in place any number of complex and nuanced issues.
The wage gap.
Male violence.
Though to be fair to C, equality is one of the most over-used and least helpful terms.
It reminds me of online lingo. Free... as in beer?

I see a billboard on the way to work each day. For December - the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre - somebody put up an awareness ad.
It talked about how men weren't getting involved enough.
Which seems terribly rich, given that they have been excluded from any number of memorial events and feminist locations, such as Womyn Centres on campuses.
Anyway, let's break down the term "male violence".
My observation about the importance of a brief and powerful preposition system, likely derived from the Somali system, for CVN applies here.

Male violence. Noun noun. (This will resemble my example of space man earlier.)
Here, converting them into phrases with prepositions is useful.
Violence ... for males. By males? To males? From males? With?
Inter or intra male violence? To males, to non-males?
Contrast with black violence, that would raise hackles.
In Toronto right now, it would likely be interpreted as concern for black victims of homicide. The Sun is terribly upset that they are dying in droves.
Most of the killers are also black. So black violence as a term could potentially be applied to the offender versus victim quality. But that would not be P-C.
Or female violence, which would get shoe-horned into woman-as-victim format, though the structure is identical to the opposite implication for male.

So let us revisit the terms again, with the idea of embedded prepositions or perhaps a prefix to denote more nuance.
Male violence. Intra-male. Inter-male. Inter - to males? by males?
After all the term could logically be as much a reference to how males are the main victims of violence. Also, of course, perpetrators. That's OK to say about males -just one gender mind you. Again, if we swap out gender for race (at least some), we have the opposite inferred meaning and an entirely different meme script kicks in.

I mention the wage gap since I posted a fairly minor FaceBook entry on it once.
36 hours later, and 100 posts of flame-war nature, mutual friends were calling each other Nazis and suggesting the other side supported genocide. Really. It was surreal.

Something we learned in university was the idea of operationalizing terms.
What do we mean by that? How do we measure it?
Qualify, quantify.
Of course, with propaganda of any type, this attempt at intelligent discussion will be still-born.
The discussion is not allowed to progress that far.

Male violence. Female violence?
BTW - male doesn't even denote just human. Male dogs? Cats?
Men? Boys too?
White violence? Black?
How about Christian violence? Islamic?
Straight? Gay? Bi? The list goes on.

I'd love if somebody would make a study showing tacit assumptions by subjects when these various terms are used.

My language design CVN will include very brief indicators of prefix (inter, intra) and prepositional (by, to) nature.


And Espo's failure! I spent a coupla minutes trying to find the word 'belsono'.
Gradually, I realized I should not look for belson-. Though there was no way for me to know that until I knew both bel- and son- for pretty and sound respectively. I only knew one at that point.
Similarly, syllable forms such as CCV and VCC are permitted.
So if we have 2 adjacent syllables of CVC CVC construction,
we have no way to tell if we are looking at:
1) CVCC VC or
2) CV CCVC or
Though particular phoneme sequences may constrain this sometimes.
Point is, we're looking at the result of a mechanistic, mindless, 'clockwork morphology' loosely based on natural language.
I'd be wise to heed my own advice. The presence of both long and short vowels in CVN will result in EFLers trying to apply English-only rules to both pronunciation and stress.

Espo correlatives.

What kind -kia. Tia.
What place - kie. Tie.

D - yet the -a ending means adjective (-ly).
And -e ending means adverb! (-ily).
So kind ... adjective.
But place ... adverb!
Point is, Dr. Z did not think through this too far.
This dual use of certain endings (and word combos in other cases) is bound to trip up
those who are not fluent.
Given that the language tries to sell itself on being user-friendly, this is a serious indictment.

Instead, Espo could have more methodically used endings.
E.g. -a -e,i,o,u always meaning the same thing.
Ditto -an -en -in.
And for that matter -a, -an, -am, -ang.
Voila. And we get... CVN!

dementia and language loss

Dementia is already an isolating disorder. But it becomes even more complicated because patients, with their memories collapsing back to childhood, often lose their ability to speak English if they learned the language later in life. In a nation where the incidence of dementia is expected to double in the next 30 years to one million people – and in which 20 per cent of an aging population has a mother tongue other than English or French – that means a huge strain on families looking for good care, and will require a radical shift in the country’s health-care.

D - my oma died about a year or two back.
My sis wanted to introduce oma to the most recent addition to the family - my sis's second daughter. Oma had been in a retirement home for many years, and was suffering from severe dementia.
She didn't know who we were. She forgot that at 98 she had spoken English since the end of WWII - half her life. She didn't understand the baby she was holding was her own great grandchild - though I think she was happy about that nonetheless.
She died shortly thereafter. I was glad to have seen her one last time.

D - learning a second childhood language has yet another benefit.
Should dementia set it, it increases the chance that caretakers will be able to communicate effectively. This is a strong argument for immersion into one's new nation if one is an immigrant.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

canada and rate of full bilingualism

The true number, said Jean-Pierre Corbeil, is 5.4 million — or 17% of the population — and not the scant 125,000 cited in the editorial I had penned on the national front to castigate a piece of legislation before the Senate that would require all future judges on the Supreme Court of Canada to be bilingual.

D: if we're just restricting judge candidates to the 5mil- about 1 in 6 of us - that is noo elitist.
I am all about giving Quebec all the symbolic BS they want.
It's cheaper than money.
Canada is of 2 minds. Quebec sees us as 2 nations in the bosom of 1 state.
The rest of Canada sees us as a collection of egalitarian provinces.
Everybody tends to ignore the native issue.

Anyway, this stat shows how difficult true dual-first-languages is to obtain.
I imagine it almost requires 2 minds in one brain.
What a nice analogy for Canada.

motherese. baby attuned to mom's voice

The brain signals also revealed that while the infants did react to other women's voices, these sounds only activated the voice recognition parts of the brains. "This is exciting research that proves for the first time that the newborn's brain responds strongly to the mother's voice and shows, scientifically speaking, that the mother's voice is special to babies,"

D: I explored a language idea cally Babyese.
Basically, the phonemes and syllable forms grow to express nuance.
For example, at the start, all men are daddee.

It was inspired by lifeform naming conventions and a taxonomic language approach.
Clearly, my appreciation for this was felt in Lang53/LangX.
Though, again, I think their linear mechanistic approach to reintroducing phonemes is simplistic. Plus skipping over tonemes makes no sense at later stages.
Sorry guys.

I'm having some trouble finding the particular wayback machine site.
Anyway, geocities, at dinosnider666,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the many faces of sign language. tower of babel.

babble Look up babble at
early 13c., babeln "to prattle," akin to other Western European words for stammering and prattling (cf. Swedish babbla, O.Fr. babillier) attested from the same era, some of which probably were borrowed from others, but etymologists cannot now determine which were original. Probably imitative of baby-talk, in any case (cf. L. babulus "babbler," Gk. barbaros "non-Greek-speaking"). "No direct connexion with Babel can be traced; though association with that may have affected the senses" [OED]. Meaning "to repeat oneself incoherently, speak foolishly" is attested from early 15c. Related: Babbled; babbling.

D - by all rights, sign language should be somewhat transparent and universal. When spoken in context and a certain setting, Rand's referent-objects as well as physical actions should be iconic - mimcry, like a game of Charades.

(Aside - having learned some ASL, I cannot believe just how terrible most people are at making clear iconic signs.)

D - am reading "The Joy of Signing" to round out some gaps in my training. Chopping up a sign language dictionary for cue cards is not an ideal way to learn.
I should have just looked at the basics much more.

The foreword mentions that there are Canadian sign differences compared to ASL.
The Europeans only use one hand. ASL tends to wander between 1 and 2 hands for signs.
Some signs are already out of date - for example, showing toast over an open flame.
Others are considered politically incorrect - the deaf&dumb sign, for example.

Gestuno is a half-hearted attempt at a universal sign language. In practice, it only shares certain basic iconic signs, and otherwise each signer uses their own proprietary national signs.
It can be seen as a kind of pidgin sign language, which is not as conventionalised or complex as natural sign languages and has a limited lexicon.

D: ASL often generates novel concepts, or limited subset ideas, from initializing a 'natural sign' with a letter. The Roman Alphabet and the spoken national language immediately limites how universal a sign can be.
For example, the derivations of group.

I hope my deafese may yet serve as a more ideal stand-in for a universal sign language.

Maybe a sign language based conceptually on AUI would be more ideal.
I still think AUI is fascinating.
Each sound is linked to a concept.

aUI has 42 phonemes (including nasalized variations on the vowels for numbers), each with an associated meaning:

* a (pronounced like a in about): 'space'
* e (pronounced like e in bend): 'movement'
* i (pronounced like i in win): 'light'
* u (pronounced like u in bush): 'human'
* o (pronounced like o in port): 'life'

So AUI means "space human light" - space language.

My attempt to analyze the 1000 most common English words for recurring concepts is of use here. Stuff like money, system, hierarchy. Gender/kinship.

accents and stigma. stutter in bilingual kids.

The study found that Israeli Arabs' positive associations with their own people are weaker when they are tested in Hebrew than when they are tested in Arabic.

The study used a computer test known as the Implicit Association Test, which is often used to study bias. Words flash on the computer screen, and subjects have to categorize them by pressing two keys on the keyboard as quickly as possible. It's a nearly automatic task, with no time to think about the answers. The trick is, the subjects are classifying two different kinds of words: words describing positive and negative traits and, in this case, names

The Arab Israeli volunteers found it easier to associate Arab names with "good" trait words and Jewish names with "bad" trait words than Arab names with "bad" trait words and Jewish names with "good" trait words. But this effect was much stronger when the test was given in Arabic; in the Hebrew session, they showed less of a positive bias toward Arab names over Jewish names.

D - implications for bilingualism. And regional accents. And foreign accents.


Children who are bilingual before the age of 5 are significantly more likely to stutter and to find it harder to lose their impediment, than children who speak only one language before this age, suggests new research.

There was no difference in school performance between children who stuttered, but the authors suggest that children whose native language is not English may benefit from deferring the time when they learn it. "...this reduces the chance of starting to stutter and aids the chances of recovery later in childhood," they say.

D - here in Canuck-land, this implies that learning our second official language in primary school may be ideal.
Though I never figured out why we learn Parisian French.
That is like teacher Franophones British English.
It makes no sense.

I wonder if the exception to this would be sign language.
Since it uses manual parallels to verbal signs, maybe it would not cause stuttering.
I am curious if it would result in manual accompaniment to speaking?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

on latex notation, text editors and keyboard design

D: I was impressed by how Latex allows IPA characters.
Those are some sensible keyboard shortcuts for IPA.

D: Look at a typical text editor interface.
The options available are not reflected on a standard qwerty keyboard.
The keyboard has many obscure and largely unused symbols hogging space.

(I'll look at keybaord layouts another day.)

Anyway, my Google blog has bold - italic.
My Google e-mail has bold-italic-underline- size -font- colour - highlight colour.
Hmm, it seems to get confused if I change text size after picking colours.
Which is a neat artistic result.

My point? We should have the reverse of mouse gestures.
Do with a button on the keyboard what we now need a mouse to do.
A keyboard should have those text options readily available.
It would be brilliant for math and science notation.
It would be compatible with a standard online text editor, as well as word processors.
A similar process with diacrtics would help with a generic universal Romance-language modified ROman alphabet system.

French accents:
Hmm turns out French has 5 accents.
I never did figure out what they meant.
That might explain why I nearly failed French after taking it 8 years.
I still cannot speak it.

I did memorize alt-0233 for the word resumé. I was tired of typing the verb ree-zoom.

Anyway, capital letters leave space for accents. Nor do small letters that have some upright element.
All in all, pretty poor design.

A qwerty keyboard cannot easily be reduced to half the characters.
Sure, voiced/voiceless pairs such as BP are natural candidates.
But this relationship is pretty opaque with Roman letters to most laypeople.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

70% of web users don't speak English

D - one of the potential benefits of an IAL (international auxiliary language) is cost.
Advertisers can use a one-size-fits-all approach.
Government bodies,particularly international ones, can save a bundle on translations.

Then there are subtle costs.
New immigrants to Canada are offered language lessons. But often they wish to start working right away so they don't 'waste time'.
Which ultimately constrains their ability to work effectively.
Unless one has a job that involves sitting in an isolated cubicle, and even then does not involve reading, this is a mistake.

A few years ago, I participated in a YWCA-sponsored 'Coming to Canada' improv skit theatre project. I learned facts that made me sympathetic to newcomers. For example, sometimes Canada invites them here due to their educational qualifications- and then won't recognize this when the get here.
Conversely, I found they collectively engaged in a mental trap about discrimination.
They adamantly refused to admit that speaking English in a clear and concise manner is a job skill. Ergo, every time they fail to get a job it must be... DISCRIMINATION!
Yes, they actually believed that.
First of all, the ability to communicate (both ways) in a spoken and written form IS a job skill. The inability to do so is a valid and legitimate reason to not employ somebody.
Second, it may be that our language lessons are failing them.
I am of the opinion that addressing accent/dialect is MORE important than the usual 'nuts and bolts' approach of teaching grammar and syntax.
I for one have a mild auditory processing problem. Misplacing the stress and changing cadence on words I know is often enough to render them unintelligible to me.

NEWS: after only a YEAR, I have finally finished reading Chomsky's SPE. For most people, I suggest you just read a summary of his language rule results.
Even where these rules are summarized with page reference in SPE, those pages still are almost indecipherable as examples.
I am completely unable to think in 'notation'.
Meaning all the efficient short-hand expressions in the book might as well be greek to me. The section on phonology was worth its weight in gold, though.

Teaching simple example by large groups samples might be useful.
1) nail down English phonemes in one syllable words. Work up to diphthongs n' consonant clusters.
2) at 2 syllables, show the rules for noun and verb and adjective.
3) use lots and lots of examples.
4) gradually introduce examples of how derivatives change the stress.
5) gradually show how co-articulation changes the actually spoken word.
Notice that grammar and syntax are not even mentioned.
Knowing 1000 words in English with perfect grammar and syntax remains totally useless if one cannot say those 1000 words in a manner that is understood.
Yet ethnic accent is the very last thing to persist after learning English.
It should be the very FIRST thing to go.
I know this is very hard for an adult brain. But it is rewarding.

Aside: I am intrigued by the idea of a 3rd tier of pronunciation- the unspoken secret underlying representation.
I wonder if colour-coded stacking of hiox figures could capture narrow (IPA), wide (standard) and this underlying mode, all in one fell swoop?

An alternative aux-lang to English, or course, sacrifices the richness and quirkiness of a natural language for the stilted but accessible aux-lang.

I did find Q and X particularly to detract from C's claim of English 'optimal orthography'. Ending a syllable in X has a KS sound. This consonant cluster can often make a syllable strong, even with a weak vocalic nucleus.
X deprives the reader of the consonant-cluster cue necessary.
Such aux-langs as Ceqli sensibly recycle X and Q for other sounds.

The staggering difficulty of mastering English remains a point in favour of a world (or nation, or even province/group) aux-lang.
Saying 'learn English or go home', though terribly tempting when dealing with ethnic truck drivers (as I do at work), remains a superficial response to a complex issue.
Whether learning a simple aux-lang would amount to more work than teaching passable English to untalented adults on a large scale is open to debate.
I suspect it would be viewed as a sensible investment, paying huge and long-term dividends. At least after the fact.

An ideal aux-lang for this purpose faces the 2 constraints, opposed to each other of,
1) too complicated to learn for many backgrounds, and
2) LCD- lowest common denominator- leaving very few elements to communicate with.
Lacking nuance or brevity as a result.
These are issues each IAL designer must struggle with.
Espo has chosen problem 1).
I have chosen problem 2), but hope ot mitigate it through very careful early planning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

just English irregular plural nouns

ox oxen (particularly when referring to a team of draft animals, sometimes oxes in nonstandard American English)
child children (actually earlier plural "cildra/cildru" plus -en suffix, forming a double plural)
brother brethren (archaic plural of brother; earlier "brether" plus -en suffix, forming a double plural; now used in fraternal order)
cow kine (archaic/regional; actually earlier plural "kye" [cf. Scots "kye" - "cows"] plus -en suffix, forming a double plural)

D: variants of -en.

No plural difference:


Ablaut plurals

The plural is sometimes formed by simply changing the vowel sound of the singular, in a process called ablaut (these are sometimes called mutated plurals):
foot feet
goose geese
louse lice
man men
mouse mice
tooth teeth
woman women

Greek and Latin derived:

* Final a becomes -ae (also -æ), or just adds -s:

alumna alumnae

* Final ex or ix becomes -ices (pronounced /ɨsiːz/), or just adds -es:

index indices /ˈɪndɨsiːz/ or indexes

* Final is becomes es (pronounced /iːz/):

axis axes /ˈæksiːz/

* Final ies remains unchanged:

series series

* Final on becomes -a:

automaton automata

* Final um becomes -a, or just adds -s:

addendum addenda

* Final us becomes -i (second declension, [aɪ]) or -era or -ora (third declension), or just adds -es (especially in fourth declension, where it would otherwise be the same as the singular):

alumnus alumni

* Final as in one case of a noun of Greek origin changes to -antes:

Atlas Atlantes (statues of the hero); but

* Some nouns of French origin add an -x, which may be silent or pronounced /z/:

beau beaux

* Nouns of Hebrew origin add -im or -ot (generally m/f) according to native rules, or just -s:

cherub cherubim/cherubs

Words better known in the plural

Some words of foreign origin are much better known in the plural; usage of the original singular may be considered pedantic or actually incorrect or worse[18] by some speakers. In common usage, the original plural is considered the singular form. In many cases, back-formation has produced a regularized plural.
Original singular Original plural/
common singular Common plural
agendum agenda9 agendas
alga algae algae
biscotto biscotti biscotti
candelabrum candelabra candelabras
datum10 data data (mass noun)
graffito graffiti graffiti (mass noun)
insigne insignia insignias
opus opera operas
panino panini paninis (currently gaining use)
paparazzo paparazzi paparazzi
spaghetto spaghetti spaghetti

D - having fun yet?

Chinese 'xie' for plural (some) seems nice.
But then they have special words for plurals of many many singular words.

In English, herd of cattle et al.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

letter font and material recall

Researchers at Princeton University employed volunteers to learn made-up information about different types of aliens - and found that those reading harder fonts recalled more when tested 15 minutes later.

They argue that schools could boost results by simply changing the font used in their basic teaching materials.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

12 is the loveliest number. # naming conventions.

Twelves appears in many places and many guises.
It flies in the face of our modern sensibilities.
We just assume that a 1-size-fits-all 10-base system is the way to go.

I will make my case for the need to name #s simply right up to 12.

In physics, the Planck length, denoted ℓP, is a unit of length, equal to 1.616252(81)×10−35 meters. It is a base unit in the system of Planck units.

D - metric-style prefixes to a power-multiple of 3x12 is desirable to easily encapsulate the Planck length. So instead of yocto at 10 -24, we could have something else at 10 -36- Planck length territory.

The imperial system is still widely used. I worked in construction, and can tell you we still do everything with the Imperial measuring system.
We all know inch-feet-yards-miles.
There are a few more but those are the important ones.
Once we reach lengths smaller than inches, we typically use a fraction-2-power system.
I.e. 1/2 ,1/4, 1/8, 1/16ths...
Here we see the importance of a to-the-power # naming convention.
That is also true of the metric-style prefix names, as well as the #s 1,10, and 100.
Really, 10 and 1000 with various powers are the basis for our modern decimal/metric system.

Twelve also appears in time, and has resisted every effort to displace it.

Behind this use of 12 is the backdrop of the sexagesimal system - 60 base.
Sexagesimal (base 60) is a numeral system with sixty as its base. It originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BC, it was passed down to the ancient Babylonians, and it is still used — in a modified form — for measuring time, angles, and the geographic coordinates that are angles.

The number 60, a highly composite number, has twelve factors, namely { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 60 } of which two, three, and five are prime numbers. With so many factors, many fractions involving sexagesimal numbers are simplified. For example, one hour can be divided evenly into sections of 30 minutes, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 12 minutes, 10 minutes, six minutes, five minutes, etc. Sixty is the smallest number that is divisible by every number from one to six. This is because 60 = 2 × 2 × 3 × 5 = 4 × 3 × 5.

D: take a circle with 360 degrees. Dividing progressively in half, we get 360,180,90, 45 .... 22.5.
Whereas a 100-base system would divide to 100, 50, 25, .... 12.5.
To avoid decimals/fractions for one more division, we'd hafta go up to a 1000 base system.

The importance of the 12-base system is apparent in our English # naming conventions.
We have eleven, twelve and only then the 13-19 "teen" ending.

Finally, we have our 360 (plus a bit) days of the year. Our calendar has 12 months.

Very few aux-langs think to make # names simple beyond 10.
We see above that there are many benefits to a # naming convention that is compact to 12 for brevity of speech.

As always, take Espo for example. ( I dare not utter utter this demonic language's true name - it attracts spammers! <:)
16 Dek ses (one ten and six)
Lojban, et al typically also fall into this trap.
Lojban cycles through the aeiou vowel set twice to reach names to 10.

One last thought. In time, we have the following naming conventions.
Second-minute-hour-day-week-month-year. Only day and year have any natural-world meaning.
We see a similar progression of names for Imperial distances.
The option of a measuring-unit system with a 1-7 or so scale for names, much like #s, may be desirable.
Alternatively, a day-less-1-scale (hour) system could be attractive.
Possibly, a naming convention that uses very brief terms for common multiples could work. E.g. Second is day /24 hours/ 60 minutes/ 60 seconds.

I vaguely entertained a notion to use a time unit convention for the day that reflects geometry. I.e. 360 degrees vs 12 hours. That is 30 degrees per hour. Each degree would be 2 minutes. From there, arc minutes and arc seconds.
It'd be interesting to show time on an old hand-based clock for the year.
The best argument I've heard for why our time-unit second is a second is the rate that the human heart beats at.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

how many root words is enough?

From the base of 15,000 to 20,000 root words - once can combine roots and suffixes to form over 150,000 words in Esperanto.

There is an extensive set of suffixes that can be added to word roots to allow various shades of meaning or newly derived forms; compound words are also used. (Source: "Esperanto,"

Lojban's 1300 root words can be easily combined to form a vocabulary of millions of words.

Finally, a look at an 'extreme language' - Toki Pona, with very few roots.
I suspect 'simple' translates to 'extremely limited', 'ambiguous' or 'extremely wordy for clarification'. But to capture Tao thought, that's fine.

The entire language has only 123 words

OK - regarding Esperanto, in what world is 'only 15,000 roots to make 150,000 words' a boast?
Honestly, I sometimes wonder what Esperantists are smoking.
I oversimplify, since a compound word will contain multiple roots/stems/words, but that means that a root is used on average to make only 10 words.
I suppose one can claim that this results in precision - the disambiguation claim of Lojban, ironically enough, though Lobjan has only 1/10 the the roots to work with.

Esperanto- suffixes to allow various shades of meaning.

D: ok, why suffixes? Let's look at English as the de facto world standard. The power on the throne. The folks you need to suck up to...

Well English uses both prefixes and suffixes. Given that suffixes have a certain ordering, one can argue infixes in the middle also.
In English, the prefixes vary the word meaning in nuance, but do not change the grammatical category. For example, view, review, preview.
Whereas suffixes often change the part of grammar. For example, heavy, heaviness.
So the unexamined assumption by Espo that suffixes are the only way to go is mistaken.

For compounded nouns and whatnot, I figure a middle infix is the way to go. Something derived from a simple preposition system.
Again, my example: spaceman.
Do we mean an astronaut? (Literally, a sailor of the stars, or thereabouts.)
Or... do we man an alien extraterrestial.
A man to space. From space?
Here we see the rich potential for using middle-position infixes for compounded lexical items.
How about a human being designed to be suited to orbital existence? A man FOR space.

"Thus the acquirement of this rich, mellifluous, universally-comprehensible language, is not a matter of years of laborious study, but the mere light amusement of a few days. " (Zamenhof)

D; Oh, the bitter tears as I laugh at that! I grind to a halt mid-intro-book after months of study. Like I said, a language by a linguist, for linguists.
That is a variant of a joke about the RPG Rolemaster - a game by an accountant, for accountants...

So far, Espo requires:
1) a linguistic background that does not have a rigid word order and
2) is heavily infixing - but particularly with suffixes.
So we are talking about a narrow margin of language speakers.
Leaving... polyglot linguists as the only likely consumers of this language.
Exactly what we see in the comment section.
This is a language doomed to be stillborn.

BTW, Barker, talking about a 'thriving online community' is a polite way of saying an Esperantist is unlikely to find any other speakers in their physical region.
That is NOT a pitch for Espo being widely adopted.
It is a condemnation for the poor early adopters.
But they've had the problem of being early adopters for... a frickin' CENTURY.

D: back to the (low-balled) ONLY 15,000 root word boast - boast? That's a boast?!

I'll reread the most common 1000 English words. And I'll point out which concepts are re-used constantly. THESE are the words that should be emphasized in any initial small group of root words to learn.
This initial step would have addressed some issues of Z's for Espo.

I reiterate my test. The same # of basic-literacy speakers as Espo in 20 years, or bust.
How? 1/10th the interested parties. But 10x easier to learn.

The year is 2010. In 20 years, it'll be 2030. Growing up with an aux-lang for kids to be native speakers means the children will be around 15 for 2045.
The UN's 100th anniversary.
So I have ten years to nail down the basic design with beta tests and open source help.
And then 10 years to recruit learners for the finished product.
NOT beta-testers.
NOT the Espo approach of treating the entire first generation of early adopters as beta-testers!

D: update. Still chipping away at SPE by Chomsky. Gawd so hard...
I should have found a Cole's notes version.
My head hurts.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

better than metric. planck measuring system

The nature of reality at the Planck scale is the subject of much debate in the world of physics, as it relates to a surprisingly broad range of topics. It may, in fact, be a fundamental aspect of the universe. In terms of size, the Planck scale is unimaginably small (many orders of magnitude smaller than a proton). In terms of energy, it is unimaginably 'hot' and energetic. The wavelength of a photon (and therefore its size) decreases as its frequency or energy increases. The fundamental limit for a photon's energy is the Planck energy, for the reasons cited above


D: I speak facetiously, but this'd be our best bet for a unit system compatible with advanced aliens.

Planck units are often semi-humorously referred to by physicists as God's units. They eliminate anthropocentric arbitrariness from the system of units: some physicists argue that communication with extraterrestrial intelligence would have to use such a system of units to make common reference to scale. Unlike the meter and second, which exist as fundamental units in the SI system for historical reasons (in human history), the Planck length and Planck time are conceptually linked at a fundamental physical level.

Planck length Length (L) l_\text{P} = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}} 1.616 252(81) × 10−35 m
Planck mass Mass (M) m_\text{P} = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar c}{G}} 2.176 44(11) × 10−8 kg
Planck time Time (T) t_\text{P} = \frac{l_\text{P}}{c} = \frac{\hbar}{m_\text{P}c^2} = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar G}{c^5}} 5.391 24(27) × 10−44 s
Planck charge Electric charge (Q) q_\text{P} = \sqrt{4 \pi \varepsilon_0 \hbar c} 1.875 545 870(47) × 10−18 C
Planck temperature Temperature (Θ) T_\text{P} = \frac{m_\text{P} c^2}{k_B} = \sqrt{\frac{\hbar c^5}{G k_B^2}} 1.416 785(71) × 1032 K


This would be as provocative as switching to a decimal-based time system from our present sexagesimal one.

Decimal time was introduced as part of the French Republican Calendar, which, in addition to decimally dividing the day, divided the month into three décades of 10 days each; this calendar was abolished at the end of 1805. The start of each year was determined according to which day the autumnal equinox occurred, in relation to true or apparent solar time at the Paris Observatory. Decimal time would also have been reckoned according to apparent solar time, depending on the location it was observed, as was already the practice generally for the setting of clocks.

The French made another attempt at the decimalization of time in 1897, when the Commission de décimalisation du temps was created by the Bureau des Longitudes, with the mathematician Henri Poincaré as secretary. The commission proposed a compromise of retaining the 24-hour day, but dividing each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each minute into 100 seconds. The plan did not gain acceptance and was abandoned in 1900.

D: it failed for the simple reason that folks got one day of rest per 10 not 7 days!

However, switching to a perpetual 3 day weekend today would mitigate this.


There are exactly 86,400 standard seconds (see SI for the current definition of the standard second) in a standard day, but in the French decimal time system there are 100,000 decimal seconds in the day, so the decimal second is shorter than its counterpart.
Decimal unit Seconds Minutes Hours h:mm:ss
Decimal second 0.864 0.0144 0.00024 0:00:00.9
Decimal minute 86.4 1.44 0.024 0:01:26.4
Decimal hour 8,640 144 2.4 2:24:00.0

D: Joseph Campbell, my spiritual guru, pointed out the mystical significance of the old time system #s.

In Joseph Campbell's, The Inner Reaches Of Outer Space, he writes about the similarity between the Babylonian and Genesis flood stories. In the Babylonian or Sumerian story, there were ten kings who lived very long lives from creation to the time of the flood. This is given as a total of 432,000 years.

In the Biblical account, there were ten patriarchs between Adam and Noah, who also lived long lives. Noah was 600 years old at the time of the landing of the Ark on the mountains of Ararat (in present day Turkey). The total years add up to 1,656.

In 1,656 years, there are 86,400 weeks, and half that number is 43,200. There are myths about cycles in time, and out of time, so this doubling/halving is not uncommon. He believed that someone carefully gave the age of Noah to secretly hide the time cycle number.

He points out a number of other strange things about the numbers. Viking eddas were found in Iceland that told the story of the Day of Ragnorook, the Doomsday of the Gods. At that time, 800 Divine Warriors will come out of each of the 540 Doors of Valhalla (800 x 540 = 432,000).

The number can be found in an internal clock in the body, as well as in the Cosmos. A trained athlete's heart beats one time each second. In a 24 hour day, that is 86,400 beats.

The earth's axis wobble that causes the precession of the equinoxes is given as 25,920 years. Divided by the ancient number called "soss," 60, which was used in calculations, results in 432.

A manufacturer of golf balls once did a test to find the ideal number of dimples to put on golf balls. It turned out that balls with 432 dimples went farther than the rest.

D: neat!

D: about that heart rate thing... not really.
Lance Armstrong rests at 32 beats per minute.
Mine was so low after 2 cups of coffee that my partner in CPR class thought there was something wrong with me. 60-80 is normal and mine was 50 at that point!
I joke we need 'decimal seconds' to reflect our heart beats on our coffee.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

G&M fail. A tove honey loves - return to Jabberwocky

D: its not it's! Bloody hell....
S'ok - HIOXian punctuation can overtly denote which subset a punctuation is expressing. Should be clear.
Still nailing down which figure-shape denotes what aspect of language. Syllable stress and pitch are getting tacked on the left/right half of the HIOX figure presently. Likely. Paired punctuation like brackets and Spanish-style sentence-initial cues imply I should reserve the left/right HIOX for those punctuation symbols. That would leave the 3 tiers (top, mid, low) for stress/pitch.



To review:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

That poem is now famously known as “Jabberwocky.” It is often hailed the most important nonsense poem in the English language. But if a reader looks closely, there is a method to the speaker’s madness in this poem. As Humpty Dumpty explains the poem to Alice, he demonstrates that the poet actually created an important, intelligent poem that is not entirely nonsense.
D: English has grammatical indicators. They are a closed class of function words. The list hardly ever changes historically. I think the last addition was from old English, "will".
These function words, infixes and word order all effectively create distinct meaning in English.

Infix cues in English include:
1) plural - s
2) possessive - 's
3) 3rd person singular - s
4) past tense - typically -ed
5) present participle -ing
6) past participle - (have plus) -ed typically
7) comparative and superlative -er and -est.

Word order is SVO - subject verb object. Noun verb noun.
With some details, like Subject: Article, adjective, noun...
Subject and object pronouns provide additional detail.
Subject: I. BUT object: me.
Twas -, and the -y -s
Did - and - in the -:
All -y were the -s,
And the - -s out-.

D: If we used existing standard vocabulary, the first line could easily be as follows.

'Twas pithy, and the funny puns

But even without these known words, the nonsense verse somehow FEELS sensible as our grammar brain organ parses it according to cues.


"A tove honey loves."

By using Yoda style SVO reordering, we have completely spoofed the grammatical cues to denote sentence structure.

Slithy toves - adjective noun(plural).

Honey loves - noun verb.

Both -y -es.

i can only imagine how difficult such variations must be to ESL students.

I keep reading newspaper articles saying immigrants are not being taught enough English.
Well, how about inverting that to English is too hard for most immigrants?
Then the logical conclusion becomes we need a simple interlang for typical adult second-languagers.
An aux-lang - auxiliary language. An artificial designed human language.
Lacking the complex stress contours of English.
(Making headway on Chomsky's SPE. NOT an easy read at all. Finishing up chapter on phonology so I can complete HIOXian. I get the PC that can handle the font design software this afternoon.)

D: Other English quirks - the illusion of apparent syllable/word abundance with generous syllable design rules.

Take, for example, the apparent simple indefinite article / singular plus adder.
An adder.
Well, it was originally a ... NADDER!
Examples of the reverse can also be found.

The word “nickname” was originally rendered as an “ekename,” because “eke” is an obsolete word that means “additional.” Similarly, the original word for a “newt” was “ewte,” and one can easily see how “an ewte” became “a newt.” The process often worked in reverse with words that started with “n”: “An adder” was “a nadder,” “an apron” “a napron” and an auger” “a nauger.” Also, “an umpire” was at first a “noumpere,” a word that derived from the Old French nonper, “not equal” and thus qualified to settle disputes.

D: we get no farther ahead if we try removing that particular indefinite article.
Some or any other word preceding it poses the same problem.
Nouns and other grammatical elements lack a distinguishing and unique syllable structure, or choice of phonemes.
Decimese will solve this. <:


Many words came into English by this route: Pease was once a mass noun but was reinterpreted as a plural, leading to the back-formation pea. The noun statistic was likewise a back-formation from the field of study statistics. In Britain the verb burgle came into use in the 19th century as a back-formation from burglar (which can be compared to the North America verb burglarize formed by suffixation).
Other examples are:
adj. "couth" from "uncouth"
Verb "edit" from "editor"
Singular "syrinx", plural "syringes" (from Greek): new singular "syringe" formed
Singular "sastruga", plural "sastrugi" (from Russian): new Latin-type singular "sastrugus" has been used sometimes
"euthanase" or "euthanize" (verb) from the noun "euthanasia".

D: Examples of other 'make-work' English vocabulary items abound.
Notice that the very cues we needed to make sense of Jabberwocky have become the enemy when word boundaries and lexical parsing is considered.
... we've painted ourselves into a corner! Natural languages are like that.
Only a designed language is not.

Note: I'm porting HIOXian and Decimese to LiveJournal blogs. This blog will focus solely on new language news and research. D.

Monday, August 9, 2010

tolkien. the 1 ring. the black speech of Sauron

The Ring Inscription
The only example given of "pure" Black Speech is the inscription upon the One Ring:
Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

When translated into English, these words form the lines:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
Parallels to natural languages

Russian historian Alexander Nemirovski identified an ergative suffix (-uk in "durbatuluk" is the verb suffix meaning "them all" and is related to object and not to subject, verb forms related to object are specific to ergative languages), and claimed a "strong lexical similarity" to Hurrian (also an ergative language).[1]
Hurrian was a recently deciphered language at the time of the writing of The Lord of the Rings, E. A. Speiser's Introduction to Hurrian appearing in 1941.[2]

D: nice analysis of the Black Speech.

The black speech has a CVC syllable structure.

We will assume for the moment that gh is one sound, rather than a g sound followed by an h sound (which would be unpronounceable finally).

The following consonants are attested: sh, d, r, b, th, k, m, p, t, l, k, gh, z, g, n, h, s.

We know that the l and r are pronounced at the back of the mouth (similar to English but without exception) - this is a sound which the Elves find extremely unpleasant.

Some consonant clusters occur; these are thr, kr, gl, sk initially, and zg, mb, mp, rz, nk finally. Medial consonant clusters usually result from compounding or affixing.
D: now I have some fun.

D: I have had the ill fortune in my life to meet self-identified Otherkin.
I ran into them in gaming circles, being into RPGs myself.

Otherkin think they are various mythical creatures. "I'm an ELF!" Yeah, sure you are....
It is a strange fringe sect. By that I mean a religion that never got popular.
It can be best summarized, as by my roomie, who made a university presentation about this group, as if all the kids playing Shadowrun scifi/fantasy RPG about awakened modern supernaturals in the 1980s in their mom's basement managed to later network over the internet. LOL. Yeah, pretty much.
I played DnD 'n Shadowrun and whatnot. At no point did I think I was my character, or anything but human.
I don't mind some of them, but know too many unsavoury types in their circle to ever trust the group.

So here is where it gets funny.
They suggest maybe Tolkien was an otherkin.
Then they whip up subcultural idiom, all based on English phonotactics.
Well... if Tolkien's elves really hate the L/R sound, then that sinks that theory.
Leave poor Tolkien alone. He'd be rolling over in his grave if he knew!

As an aside, Tolkien learned Esperanto as a teen. At first he liked it.
Later, he lamented the lack of literature and a mythology/culture associated with this.
I took this to heart. I hope to breathe life into my language projects via sci-fi fiction.


Monday, July 26, 2010

bliss symbols writing system. thoughts.

CHARLES was born Karl Kasiel Blitz in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, a mixture of peoples where, as he wrote in 1965, “20 different nationalities hated each other, mainly because they spoke and thought in different languages.” In the year of Charles’ birth, the Emperor, Franz Joseph I, was in his 49th year on the throne, Johannes Brahms died, and Gustav Mahler became director of the Vienna Opera. Anton Bruckner had died the year before, and the year after saw the pointless fatal stabbing by an Italian anarchist of the Empress Elisabeth while she was sightseeing in Geneva, Switzerland, on 10th September, 1898.
The languages Charles heard all around him were not logical at all, and by the time he was in high school, he says, he refused to learn the unruly rules of languages, and he refused to differentiate between the relative, indefinite, intensive, reflective or reciprocal pronoun. He would not believe that children must be tortured with such illogical matters. By this time Charles had been impressed by two wonderful logical languages expressed in the symbols of mathematics and chemistry which could be read by anyone no matter what their mother-tongue might be.

D: not sure how this is supposed to work. The symbols are not linked to any spoken sounds.
But we sound out written material in our heads when we read.
So thinking in Blisssymbols must be problematic.

D: there are 4-5000 symbols. This is the same as a mid-level fluency with Chinese. So immediately, it does not seem to be learned faster than existing ideographic schemes (logographic really).

D: I read over Crockford's PDF. Right from the start, his appraisal of it seems too optimistic.
Simple, yet recognizable and memorable? This is the same red herring ASL deals with. It is not very iconic. The symbols are only clearly linked to a real-world object or event once explained. For example, a circle means 'sun'. This is only clear after the fact, once explained. So the simplified pictograms are not in fact so easily recognized.
The hand sign is sufficiently abstract that I would never have guessed what it is meant to represent.

- octomatics seems to have a better grasp of ideal shapes. The computer versions are all straight lines. Whereas the cursive writing forms are rounded. I incorporate this into HIOXian. The rounded shapes don't display well on a monitor.
- many of the symbols are very wide for a standard 8x12 rectangular character space
- many of the symbols involve very tiny parts. For example, the set of wheels for 'car'.
- nouns are the default shape, and an extra indicator is needed to turn this into a verb.
- showing subset parts of 'hand' is very clever. Just have a pointer indicating the subset part.
- it is clearly earth and human-centric. Which is fine, since humans are the intended users.
- the man/woman symbols are *almost* interesting. They remind me of Jewish mystical numerology.
I think father plus mother equals son or thereabouts.
The woman symbol contains that most primitive portrayal of the vulva, the triangle (sometimes a card-diamond).
The author shied away from the obvious portrayal for man (tripod joke from Austin Powers here).
The gender-neutral 'person' figure is anything but intuitive, being a flat base with a pole above it.
It is not clearly related to man, woman, or man and woman.
Now, superimposing the man and woman figures with my anatomically-correct suggestion would work for man-or-woman. De-emphasizing gender would result in a basic 2-legs-torso figure.
- that grass and hair should involve the same symbol at different heights is anything but intuitive.

D: I realize he was designing a system for mechanical typewriters. But with the advent of computers, certain portrayals become possible. For example, my proposed layered-colour HIOXian bi/trigraphs.
The man/woman symbols, once superimposed would now indicate the following:
1) both figures involve the the basic 2legs-and-torso character. This is indicated by a 3rd colour which is the other 2 blended.
2) clearly, the 'man-part' is derived from a single figure
3) clearly, the 'female-part' is derived from a single figure.
If we wish to include 'all people of any age', we could even add a 3rd figure with a shorter torso with a similar colour shift.
After a certain number of colours, brown or black could be used.
i suppose we could accomplish the same thing in greyscale.

A stray thought was that a liquid ink could in fact physically blend and accomplish the same thing on a mechanical typewriter.

All this colour-blending got me thinking.
If we have compound nouns, verbs, or adjectives we could use a final-syllable condensed indication.
Since all vocabulary items must end in a CVC syllable, with the final consonant being M, N, or NG, we have a problem.
If I only denote the final main element (e.g. black board is noun not adjective) then, we may lose too much meaning.
In Decimese, 'black' does not default to adjective. In fact, 'board' does not default to noun. And nothing defaults to verb either.
Without being assigned a grammatical role, the bound-root cannot be used independently.
The root for 'black', for example, becomes undefined. It has yet to be defined as to blacken, to make black, to become black. It is not yet blackness or blackly. It is not the colour black, or any analogy or metaphor thereof.

So what do we do with a concept such 'blackboard', let alone 'blackboard eraser' or 'black board-eraser'?

Well, if we reserve an HVN (H plus vowel plus nasal consonant) final syllable for this purpose, then we could use vowel diphthongs to this end. This only works with linguistic backgrounds (for both speaker and listener) able to use diphthongs.
English and Chinese, for example.
In the case of blackboard, the concept is a noun with board being the core concept.
So we are left with black as an adjective.
Since -N means noun -NG means verb, and -M means descriptor (either adverb or adjective, depending on sentence position), blackboard in Decimese will end in -N. Ergo, the final diphthong would be selected to indicate an adjective, or adjective plus noun redundantly with the final consonant. In theory, if we avoid this redundancy, we may even be able to denote the nuanced difference between 'blackboard eraser' and black board-eraser' and whatnot.

D: why -N for noun? Noun starts in N. -NG is verb cuz English has verbs ending in -ing a lot. Leaves -M for 'modifier'.
Note earlier proposals for Mandarin vs Cantonese speakers that only involve 2 not 3 nasal consonants.

Next stop: recreate my top-1000 common English word list and nail down common recurring concepts.
These words occupy a special niche, being neither closed class function words, nor quite open class vocabulary items.
Because of their common usage and complex meaning, they are assigned simple short-hand one-syllable words to denote them. Their construction involves certain consonants only as an indication of their special status.
They are likely to be formed from LRWY and H and not the usual pairs of voiced/voiceless consonants like PB.
Sufficient planning will allow future expansion to include triple consonant clusters such as STR and such. This is not intended for at least the first generation of users.
Common recurring concepts in the 1000-word list include system, study-of (ology), social and organization hierarchy, and social/political/economic/religious distinctions.
This immediately cuts down on vocabulary demands.

Hopefully it will avoid such past nonsense such as Esperanto and books/libraries.
Book -libro. You'd think book place - librujo? would suffice. Maybe a distinction for sell-place.
But nope- out of nowhere - and never to be seen again in other vocabulary items - we get biblioteko!
Haha found the Espists fixed this one on their own - libraro.
libraro book collection
librejo library
D: not sure what the distinction is.
Biblio Bible
bibliografio bibliography
bibliotekisto librarian
biblioteko library
D: so are these related to the bible? Wouldn't bible-place be a church? The -isto a priest?
teko briefcase, file
So now a sloppy translation of biblioteko might be...
bible... briefcase?

We see here that one must not skimp on having a sufficient number of core concepts and words, even if this places increased demands on memorizing lists.
The alternative is heavily compounding in a way that is fairly arbitrary and not at all clear.
Not to mention wordy.

Decimese will be pretty wordy. There are just not that many syllables possible in the most basic form. And it MUST have a basic form, for world-wide appeal and utility.
The shorthand options must squeeze as much as possible out of the limited consonant clusters and vowel clusters.
This is an inherent constraint of my design principles.

It's gonna take a long time to figure out right the first time. So initial users do not end up being beta-testers.
That's the way it has to be.
Plus there is no rush.

My self-imposed goal is 2045 - the 100th anniversary of the UN.
Presumably, around 2020- the 75th anniversary, the subject could be brought up, mostly playfully.
A simple thought experiment.
A what-if.
This gives me to about 2020 to nail down the language- another decade for vocabulary.
After that, the goal becomes to encourage as many early adopters as possible, to create online communities.

And not to stagnate - level off at a marginal rate- like Espo.

Gonna be a heckuva trick to pull off.

Friday, July 23, 2010

detect autism with syllable forming delays

The autistic sample showed little evidence of development on the parameters as indicated by low correlations between the parameter values and the children's ages (from 1 to 4 years). On the other hand, all 12 parameters showed statistically significant development for both typically developing children and those with language delays.
Warren says that children with autism spectrum disorders can be diagnosed at 18 months but that the median age of diagnosis is 5.7 years in the United States.

Could be cheaper.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

making a speakable version of Stokoe's notation via Visemese

D: I just finished a book called "The Linguistics of American Sign Language" by Isenhath.
It was an easy read which was not too heavy on theory.
It outlines the premise that Stokoe used, that there are 5 aspects to each ASL sign.
The devil is in the details, of course.
Some unusual signs use full-head movement.
The speed of the sign also carries meaning.


Aside on sci-fi story language project.

The key lesson I learned was that one can remove the 'filler words' in English - really function words- and still carry on a meaningful conversation when context is already provided on the subject.

I applied this to my sci-fi story English creole which uses musical quarter-pitch notes to convey English function words.
ASL typically does not bother to include definite / indefinite articles such as a or the.
By paring away articles, I finally have enough quarter-pitch-note meaning slots to completely supplant common English function words.
The sentence "Dog bite boy" uses quarter-pitch-notes to convey all additional information.


Anyway, I thought cross-mapping Stokoe's notation onto syllables in Visemese that can be pronounced could be interesting.
Every sign typically contains a wealth of steps required to form it properly. ASL shies away from forming compound words in the same fashion as English, since 2 signs consecutively take quite a lot of time to do.
Instead, it tends to incorporate details into a single sign, such as replacing a natural hand position with a letter sign to change the meaning. It also heavily truncates 2 signs, resembling spoken language agglutination.

I remain intrigued by the prospect of a truly international spoken-sign system.
Sadly, we have recreated the national and regional boundaries of spoken languages with proprietary sign languages.

I have noted in the past that Decimese can be modified to interface with my lip-readable Visemese scheme.

I suspect Stokoe's notation will take too long to say since there are so few phonemes available to Visemese.
Various 'cheats' such as vowel gemination could be used. However, as always, Speedtalk-esque gemination has the problem that it then takes longer to say. This does not seem to be worthwhile to pursue.

An interesting approach to compressing Stokoe's notation would be to include facial expressions as a meaning-unit.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

brain and dyslexia. implications.

"When you are reading, you are essentially saying things out loud in your head," said Cutting. "If you have decreased integrity of white matter in this area, the front and back part of your brain are not talking to one another. This would affect reading, because you need both to act as a cohesive unit."
D: this implies that a language should be able to be spoken.
Heaps of silent or unpronouncable consonants could not be 'sounded out' in one's mind.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

web address options. horse before cart.

Arab nations are leading a "historic" charge to make the world wide web live up to its name.

Net regulator Icann has switched on a system that allows full web addresses that contain no Latin characters.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to have so-called "country codes" written in Arabic scripts.

D: to say 'use the Roman alphabet' is every bit as centric as saying 'learn to speak English' (more on that later).

Even IPA would be a better choice.

How many people send out resumes (resumays) but it looks like rezooms?
Cache- cash 'n cashay.
And so on.
On my PC, I at least knew alt-0233 would duplicate that accent.
On a Mac, I don't even know that.

We're recreating the tower of Babylon!

D: maybe HIOXian and Decimese should be both considered as INTER - inter-writing, inter-language.
Not first, not last. Just interface points for translation purposes.
A bad day at work.

I was trained on a gate at an auto factory. We deal with incoming big rig trucks.
I console myself that the following story has unfolded a number of times with other people.
1) we use low fidelity hybrid radio/cellphones I've never seen before
If you speak too loudly, as in when agitated, they distort.
If agitated, you likely speak faster.
Now toss on a foreign accent.
I actually cannot understand what is being said. Particularly when the shipper flips out. Which happens a lot.

I have some minor auditory processing problem. It rarely affects everyday life.
However, I am unable to pick out words with enough background noise (and work in a bar...).
I cannot understand toddler babbling until around age 3.
In French, I cannot parse word boundaries worth a damn.
And I cannot figure out an accent to save my life!
Kids with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. These kinds of problems typically occur in background noise, which is a natural listening environment. So kids with APD have the basic difficulty of understanding any speech signal presented under less than optimal conditions.

Accents are the one thing we don't teach immigrants to stop using. I imagine it would be very hard.
But it means somebody with a good grasp of English grammar and vocabulary can still be unintelligible to me...

The guy training me uses hearing aids. Even he does better!
But, wow, getting name spelling from the truckers takes a while.
English letter names have terrible acoustic clarity.
(Thus my suggested alternative to NATO callsign letter names.)

D: maybe this contributes to my interest in a simplified aux-lang.


Core fonts for the Web was a project begun by Microsoft in 1996 to make a standard pack of fonts for the Internet. The fonts were designed to:
Be highly legible on screen;
Offer a wide range of typographic “timbres” within a small number of typefaces; and
Support extensive internationalisation.
These design goals and the fonts' broad availability have made them extremely popular with web designers.

D: this mirrors many of my concerns for HIOXian.

Friday, April 30, 2010

brain modules that comprise the Language Organ

Instead, humans rely on several regions of the brain, each designed to accomplish different primitive tasks, in order to make sense of a sentence. Depending on the type of grammar used in forming a given sentence, the brain will activate a certain set of regions to process it, like a carpenter digging through a toolbox to pick a group of tools to accomplish the various basic components that comprise a complex task.
"We're using and adapting the machinery we already have in our brains," said study coauthor Aaron Newman. "Obviously we're doing something different [from other animals], because we're able to learn language unlike any other species. But it's not because some little black box evolved specially in our brain that does only language, and nothing else."

D: variable word order in sign language makes it useful.
The brain uses different parts for rigid word order and Latinate infixes.
I..e analytic versus synthetic.

In fact, Newman said, in trying to understand different types of grammar, humans draw on regions of the brain that are designed to accomplish primitive tasks that relate to the type of sentence they are trying to interpret. For instance, a word order sentence draws on parts of the frontal cortex that give humans the ability to put information into sequences, while an inflectional sentence draws on parts of the temporal lobe that specialize in dividing information into its constituent parts, the study demonstrated.

D: I'll get around to that SPE-derived Espo critique eventually. Been distracted by the nice weather, taking lotsa long bike rides in the countryside.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


D: article by author I mentioned last blog.

The very first lines of the first Star Trek movie in 1979 were in Klingon: wIy cha'! HaSta! cha yIghuS! And those few words—which were subtitled as "Tactical … Visual … Tactical, stand by on torpedoes!"

Klingon is something altogether different. There is a logic behind it; a linguist doing field research among Klingon speakers would be able to work out the system and describe it as he would an exotic indigenous tongue. This is not surprising, considering that Klingon was created by Marc Okrand, a linguist whose dissertation was a grammar of a now-extinct Native American language.

Okrand filled the language with back-of-the-throat sounds and made up a rich war vocabulary but left out social pleasantries like "Hello." (The closest translation for hello in Klingon is nuqneH —"What do you want?").
Knowing that fans would be watching closely, Okrand worked out a full grammar. He cribbed from natural languages, borrowing sounds and sentence-building rules, switching sources whenever Klingon started operating too much like any one language in particular. He ended up with something that sounds like an ungodly combination of Hindi, Arabic, Tlingit, and Yiddish and works like a mix of Japanese, Turkish, and Mohawk. The linguistic features of Klingon are not especially unusual (at least to a linguist) when considered independently, but put together, they make for one hell of an alien language.

D: 250,000 dictionaries sold, while only about 25 speakes are fluent.
I think those might be the same ratios we encountered with Esperanto 'native speakers', roughly.
I wonder if it holds up across the board.
See my earlier blog on that subject, coupla months ago now.

Next entry: how modern pop song lyrics compare to old sonnet forms.

Monday, April 26, 2010

ontario courts have trouble finding translators

D: and the Supreme Court too.

The use of interpreters in Ontario courtrooms could become a serious issue after about 40 per cent in the first group failed the new proficiency tests

Read more:

D: I read 1/3 failed and 1/3 are not functional.

I can hear the refrains.
Just learn English! Just find good translators!

How do you convey something in another language? There's an Italian saying, "traduttore, traditore." That is, "translator, traitor.

D: I wonder if an artifically designed auxiliary language, or a highly controlled natural language, still seem 'too hard'.

D: too expensive?
See the 1/4 -1/5 of operating budget that EU/ UN translation services consume.

Still too hard? Still too expensive?

Try too stuck in our ways. Too bigotted (sp.) as Anglos that everybody should learn English.
We'll regret that sentiment. By 2100, The Chinese will be saying 'just learn Mandarin!' in exasperation.

Try it sometime.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Post #156. Cool book on aux-langs!

D: my friend Laura recommended this.

About the Author
Arika Okrent received a joint PhD in the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Psychology's Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Program at the University of Chicago. She has also earned her first-level certification in Klingon

In the Land of Invented Languages
Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon, which was nothing more than a television show’s attempt to create a tough-sounding language befitting a warrior race with ridged foreheads. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries.

In In The Land of Invented Languages, author Arika Okrent tells the fascinating and highly entertaining history of man’s enduring quest to build a better language.

"A lively, informative, insightful examination of artificial languages -- who invents them, why, and why most of them fail. I loved this book."

- Will Shortz, Crossword Editor, New York Times

D: actually, the large majority of people I've met have NEVER heard of Esperanto.
They HAVE heard of Klingon.
In the blue-collar world, people have also never heard of Chomsky.
I nearly fell over when I realized that.
(Shakes head sadly.)

Jason, my roomie, pointed out the sad story of Hitler and Zamenhof's family.

Three decades after Zamenhof's death Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union deemed Esperanto a dangerous part of some ill-defined Zionist conspiracy. During World War II Zamenhof's grown children, Adam, Zofia and Lidja, were all imprisoned and executed by Nazi Germany.

D: I reiterate my criticisms of Esperanto. What is OK for Europe may not be OK for the rest of the world. And don't treat the public like beta-testers. That is uncool with video games, and it is myopic with aux-langs. Plus don't think a Model T Ford is the solution to our transportion solution - go forward, not back. Classic, yes. Obsolete, also yes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

interesting origin of the 'jesus fish'

Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Greek for "Jesus".
Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos (Χριστὸς), Greek for "The anointed".
Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for "God's", the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for "God".
Upsilon (y) is the first letter of yios (Υἱὸς), Greek for "Son".
Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for "Savior".

D: the ichthys is a fish in old Greek.
Each letter in turn stands for some quality.
So we have an end-result pictogram of a fish, after deriving an acronym that resembles a word from an alphabet.

And the 8 spoked wheel looks a lot like a stylized Hioxian figure.

Plus a coupla spoof pics.
Of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Lovecraft's Cthulu.

Monday, April 19, 2010

machine makes vowel sounds. thoughts on texting.

First experiments with sound
Bell's father encouraged Aleck's interest in speech and, in 1863, took his sons to see a unique automaton, developed by Sir Charles Wheatstone based on the earlier work of Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen.[21] The rudimentary "mechanical man" simulated a human voice. Aleck was fascinated by the machine and after he obtained a copy of von Kempelen's book, published in German, and had laboriously translated it, he and his older brother Melville built their own automaton head. Their father, highly interested in their project, offered to pay for any supplies and spurred the boys on with the enticement of a "big prize" if they were successful.[21] While his brother constructed the throat and larynx, Aleck tackled the more difficult task of recreating a realistic skull. His efforts resulted in a remarkably lifelike head that could "speak", albeit only a few words.[21] The boys would carefully adjust the "lips" and when a bellows forced air through the windpipe, a very recognizable "Mama" ensued, to the delight of neighbors who came to see the Bell invention.[22]

Intrigued by the results of the automaton, Bell continued to experiment with a live subject, the family's Skye terrier, "Trouve".[23] After he taught it to growl continuously, Aleck would reach into its mouth and manipulate the dog's lips and vocal cords to produce a crude-sounding "Ow ah oo ga ma ma." With little convincing, visitors believed his dog could articulate "How are you grandma?" More indicative of his playful nature, his experiments convinced onlookers that they saw a "talking dog."

Thoughts on texting.

I only started texting this year. I never needed -or wanted - a cell phone before.
However, I need it now, since I am often on call as a security guard.
LOL! The manual never explained how to text. Since 'everybody' knows how already! I didn't...

Ah, those timeless lines from Hamlet! (Here translated into texting by an online service, Lingo2Word)

O, w@ a rogue n peasant slave am I!
S it nt monstrous dat dis playa hre,

owe, what a scoundrel and a low level person in
society slave am I!
is it not monstrous dat this player here,

D: see omniglot. This resembles quite a few historical shorthand systems.

D: or predictive spelling.


Consider a typical phone keypad:

Suppose a user wishes to type "The". In a traditional "multi-tap" keypad entry system, it would be necessary to do the following:
Press 8 (tuv) once to select t.
Press 4 (ghi) twice to select h.
Press 3 (def) twice to select e.

Meanwhile, in a phone with predictive text, it is only necessary to:
Press 8 once to select the (tuv) group for the first character.
Press 4 once to select the (ghi) group for the second character.
Press 3 once to select the (def) group for the third character.


As mentioned above, the key sequence 4663 on a telephone keypad, provided with a linguistic database in English, will generally be disambiguated as the word "good". However, the same key sequence also corresponds to other words, such as "home", "gone", "hoof", "hood" and so on. Such confusions may lead to mistaken meaning even if all of the words are typed correctly and spelled correctly. For example, "Are you home?" could be rendered as "Are you good?"

Words produced by the same combination of keypresses are technically paragrams,, but may be referred to as "textonyms" (or "txtonyms",) or "T9onyms" (pronounced "tynonyms")., though the phenomenon has nothing to do with T9 per se and occurs in other systems.
Reportedly, textonyms may be adopted in regular speech; for example, the use of the word "book" to mean "cool" since book is debatably considered more frequent than "cool" by some predictive text systems , "idiom" to mean "Heino" (an abbreviation for "Heineken", used in Dublin) and "Zonino!" used to mean "Woohoo!".
Disambiguation failure and misspelling

Textonyms in which a disambiguation systems gives more than one dictionary word for a single sequence of keystrokes, are not the only issue, or even the most important issue, limiting the effectiveness of predictive text implementations. More important, according to the above references, are words for which the disambiguation produces a single, incorrect response. The system may, for example, respond with "Blairf" upon input of 252473, when the intended word was "Blaire" or "Claire" both of which correspond to the keystroke sequence, but are not, in this example, found by the predictive text system. When mis-typings or mis-spellings occur, they are very unlikely to be recognized correctly by a disambiguation system, though error correction mechanisms, such as used on the Apple iphone keyboard, may mitigate that effect.

D: so if you see 'good' in lieu of 'food', context likely provides enough meaning to allow you to guess correctly.

D: it is terribly unfortunate that S must accessed as the FOURTH letter - that is a lot of work for plurals!
Even the hacker EZ ending is no easier.

D: short of a revision of alphabet order in line with Morse Code, I cannot think of an easy solution.

Herbert S. Zim, in his classic introductory cryptography text "Codes and Secret Writing", gives the English letter frequency sequence as "ETAON RISHD LFCMU GYPWB VKXJQ Z", the most common letter pairs as "TH HE AN RE ER IN ON AT ND ST ES EN OF TE ED OR TI HI AS TO", and the most common doubled letters as "LL EE SS OO TT FF RR NN PP CC". [1]

D: so what would an optimized keypad look like? Perhaps the following.


D: so how does this system fare? Let's try the most common word, "the".
Old: t 8 one tap, h 4 two taps, e 3 two taps. That's um... 5 taps.
New: t one tap. h two taps, e 1 tap. For 4 taps. Not great.
But that's just a blip.

D: or "of". Old: SIX taps. New: THREE taps. But this is misleading, since O and F are on the same button.
I wait 3 seconds to hit the same key again. So that's +3 taps, arbitrarily.
One more try.

"And". Old: FOUR. New: also FOUR.
OK, I can see that the mechanical clockwork mapping of letter neglects certain realities about word frequency.

Doubled letters remain punitive on texting time.

Oddly, the existing alphabet system if pretty good for common 2-letter sequences.
I would be intrigued what is the optimized cellphone text alphabet layout.
Any takers?


Update: am waiting on my copy of Chomsky's SPE. It will take me a long time to master this. Damn notation... grr.
It should arrive for this next weekend. That's $60 - my sole next hardcover book acquisition any time soon. Ouch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

kipf's law revisited. next entry.'s_law

D: I did not quite understand what this law is.

Zipf's law states that given some corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. Thus the most frequent word will occur approximately twice as often as the second most frequent word, which occurs twice as often as the fourth most frequent word, etc. For example, in the Brown Corpus "the" is the most frequently occurring word, and by itself accounts for nearly 7% of all word occurrences (69,971 out of slightly over 1 million). True to Zipf's Law, the second-place word "of" accounts for slightly over 3.5% of words (36,411 occurrences), followed by "and" (28,852). Only 135 vocabulary items are needed to account for half the Brown Corpus.

D: nonetheless, it shows that common words should also be brief- and easy.

Next entry.
Well the university library wants SPE back. I paid 5 bux in late fines so far.
I can see I need more time with the book to figure it out.
I ordered it for 60 bux from the local Coles book store.
It should be in within 2 weeks.

The young woman behind the counter at the book store had heard of Esperanto. She is a language enthusiast.
That is the only type that HAS heard of it. I find it nearly impossible to retain what Esp-o I've learned without somebody to practise it with. Ditto ASL.

Next blog.

I plan to look at Esperanto words, and then guess how an Anglophone will deform them using English rules for altering syllable stress and sounds.

The more I read, the more I think any aux-lang worth its salt must avoid treating voiced/voiceless consonant pairs as discrete.