Sunday, January 31, 2010

evolution of punctuation and spacing. new aux-langs don't need them.

This evolution has 3 aspects:
1) spacing between words, and other elements such as paragraphs
2) punctuation that has an impact on how the passage is spoken out loud, like quotation marks for direct quotes
3) grammatical silent punctuation that aids silent reading.

D: I am borrowing heavily from Manguel's "A History of Reading".

"Because books were mainly read out loud, the letters that composed them did not need to be separated into separate unities, but were strung together in a continuous sentences."
"The ancient writing on scrolls - which neither separated words nor made a distinction between lower-case and upper-case letters, nor used punctuation - served the purposes of someone used to reading aloud..."

"Augustine, like Ciceero before him, would have had to practise a text before reading it aloud..."

D: Servius criticized Donat in 4thC AD for reading Virgil's Aenid as "ex Ilio" vs "exilio" - from Troy vs exiled.

"The separation of letters into words developed very gradually ... the ancient scribes were so familiar with the conventions that they apparently needed hardly any visual aids..."

"In order to help those whose reading skills were poor, the (early Christian monks) in the scriptorium made use of a writing method .... which divided the text into lines of sense, a primitive form of punctuation..."
Saint Jerome noticed this and appreciated how it rendered a passage more clear.

Punctuation was critical to the development of SILENT reading. Saint Isaac and Isidore make reference to this.

By the 8thC AD, a combo of dots and dashes duplicated our comma, period, and semi-colon.
By the 9th, silent reading was common enough for monks to place a physical SPACE between words.
And so words and also grammatical parts of speech began to be portrayed as visually discrete.

D: to this day, silent grammatical punctuation remains misunderstood by the masses.
I long ago gave up trying to explain the difference between your and you're.
Or -s and -'s.

D; even sans punctuation, the timing of a passage can be fairly clearly indicated.
If a space is a word boundary, then 2 could be a comma, and 3 a sentence terminator.
The dog ran. The dog ran then ran back. .... ran back It had a bone
This is almost like the layout of notes on sheet music for timing.
English does not portray timing WITHIN a word, although our syllable stress system does use timing.
I'm convinced that expressing word pronunciation timing as sheet music world would be able to predict word distortion in rapid and clipped contemporaneous speech. The larger a word, the more we hafta compress it to fit into one whole note of time. So the syllables become increasingly simplified with dropped consonants, more co-articulation occurs, and more vowels are turned into schwa or dropped entirely.

Modern aux-langs.

Loglan and lojban have self-isolating words. The syllable formats are restricted enough that no spaces between words are necessary. Spaces amount to 'training wheels' for new speakers.

Ceqli also uses this.

This morpheme-shape effectuates "Self-segregating morphology" (SSM), that is, in any string of Ceqli, it is possible to tell where all the morphemes begin and end.


A beginning consonant signifies the beginning of a morpheme. A vowel followed by a consonant signifies the end of a morpheme. So the sentence is clearly broken down into:

to felin dwel to grin sa dom

D; Decimese is clearly of the latter tradition. Basing a syllable format on Mandarin accomplishes most of this already.
D: hmm, Ceqli uses both voiced and voiceless pairs. That will be tricky for Mandarin speakers.
A definite weighting in favour of English.

Whereas Decimese uses this additional element to denote word boundaries.
I.e. P/B pair. necessarily indicates either a word particle, or the first syllable in a multisyllable word.
Wheeas necessarily indicates a mid-word position in a multisyllable word.

I like as many ways to clearly denote word boundaries as possible.
Until a speaker can parse word boundaries, they are unable to suss out the vocabulary items.

A listener listens for certain patterns in "phoneme sequence constraints".
For example, English speakers do not begin a word with "ng". They associate NG with a word mid or final consonant.

I am designing Decimese to be unprecedentedly clear regarding word boundaries.
This should mean that a learner will rapidly be able to tease apart individual words, even from an unbroken stream of phonemes in colloquial speech.
This is terribly important in a world language!
D: kids should learn to read prior to 10. OK. I don't personally see the point of requiring kids in pre-Kindergarten to know the alphabet. I guess parents can use that to impress the relatives. The rat-race- keeping up with the Joneses!

This century's aux-langs began to experiment with careful control of syllable formats.
This, in turn, rendered silently read passages clear even without spacing between words.
In this respect we have reproduced the specialized expertise of ancient scribes and monks, but without the skill element needed.

Lessons, insights applied to Decimese.

In English, the # 2 is sometimes used instead of typing out two. But it is also used in lieu of to and too.
This usually results in clear meaning, since the # 2 would be out of place in the sentence.
I used 2 like Lego. I like 2 dance.
I hate sardines. I h8 sardines.
Use of English #s in this fashion is piecemeal. The irregular names and complex format preclude more common usage.
For example 3 ("three) is unlikely to fill in as short-hand for any other syllable.
These same observations also apply equally to letter names. B - bee, be. C -see sea. D-dee, maybe de- prefix?
W -double... yoo? As you can see, the letter names are as sporadic in English and number names.

Decimese simple letter and # naming conventions assure that their syllable format will appear often..
For example, we can plan to use the various classes of letters in various specific types of words and concepts.
Pairs: PB TD FV KG et al. LRWY. H, M NG N.
We can easily assign the first 6-7 pairs to common prepositions, for example.
The other consonants LRWYH could be assign to conjunctions -and Boolean logic operations.
And so on.
We also have 2 sets to work with. The # name and the letter name.
Visemese example: #s 2-9 ba cha da...
Variants for letters 2-9 could have been be che de...

With planning and careful thought at the language design stage (and only then!), we can make a system that allows use to heavily abbreviate our typing.
A BS English reformed example might be as follows.
Take the consonant in each #. One, two, three, four. Then add the vowel A,
1 2 3 4 ... na ta tha fa...
Do something similar with the alphabet. Continue the theme of early consonants of adding a long E sound.
BCDFGH... bee see dee fee gee (Get)...
This is somewhat like a syllabary system of sorts.
I suppose consonant clusters could be indicated with the appropriate # or letter followed by the consonant.
E.g. 3 .. tha. 3r.. THRA. And so on.

An obvious application in Decimese to indicate plural would be to attach the # or letter (sans syllable) to the beginning of a noun. Borrowing English. Man. 3man. 3... plural... man(men).. This is much like Chinese 'xie' for some.
Variants could indicate concepts such as none, single, few, some, ... all.
However we risk dual-meaning homophones when spoken if I do not take care during the initial design stage.
Considerations such as this are part of why I'm so unwilling to commit early to a poorly planned but early format.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

talk like an egyptian. king tut exhibit.

Tut pic:

18th dynasty 1333 - 1323 B.C.E., married to Queen Ankhesenamun (originally Ankesenpaaten), who may have also been his sister. There is debate as to whether he is the son of Pharaoh Amenhotep III (but not by the royal Queen Tiye) or son of Pharaoh Akhenaton and Queen Smenkhkare

Tutankhamun (or Tutankhamen or Nebkheperura, originally Tutankhaton), was the twelfth pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty, ruled for nine years. His name means the “Living Image of Amun” (Tutankhaten meant “the Living Image of Aten”).

D: the Amun vs Aten thang was an early aborted attempt at monotheism.
Well, and an attempt to disempower the priest caste. And get the temples' revenue.

To understand the change, which will be tied into a language lesson, we need to look at Tut's predecessor.

Akhenaten remains an interesting figure, as does his Queen, Nefertiti. Their modern interest comes partly from his connection with Tutankhamun, partly from the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and partly from ongoing interest in—and, all too often, less than verifiable claims about—the religion he attempted to establish.

Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, but in the end it would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors.

The mythology of the Aten, the radiant disk of the sun, is not only unique in Egyptian history, but is also one of the most complex and controversial aspects of Ancient Egypt.

The word Aten was written using the hieroglyphic sign for "god" because the Egyptians tended to personify certain expressions. Eventually, the Aten was conceived as a direct manifestation of the sun god.

It was Amenhotep IV who first initiated the appearance of the true god, Aten, by formulating a didactic name for him. Hence, in the early years of Amenhotep IV's reign, the sun god Re-Horakhty, traditionally depicted with a hawk's head, became identical to Aten, who was now worshipped as a god, rather than as an object associated with the sun god. Hence, prior to Akhenaten, we speak of The Aten, while afterwards it is the god Aten.

D: Ancient Egyptian was a pretty convoluted system. The increasingly abstract needs of their culture led to changes in their writing system. Pictograms that indicated physical objects gave way to ideograms for more abstract concepts. The need to write with more efficiency led to more stylized, generally easier symbols for scribes to copy in their medium of choice. Clay, papyrus, stone, et al.

Consonantal Signs

The Egyptian language had 24 consonantal sounds, and there was a hieroglyphic symbol for each of these. Many had two symbols, either of which could be used, making about 30 symbols representing single consonants. For example the N sound could be shown as a wavy line depicting water, or as a fancy crown headdress with a curly feather. These symbols are often called the 'hieroglyphic alphabet' and in theory anything could be written using only these symbols, but the Egyptians didn't do this.

Note that there were no symbols for vowel sounds.

There were about 80 commonly used signs which each represented two consonants.

See also: determinatives.

D: this resembles other Semitic traditions.
The only time a culture managed to finesse a vowel system from a consonantal syllabary was:
1) encounter a consonantal syllabary-using culture,
2) have a spoken language with considerably fewer sounds
3) use the 'spare' consonants thus freed up to express vowels.
In this respect at least, the linguistic 'early bird' does NOT get the worm (explicit vowels).

There must have been a fair number of ways to spell the same word. But then, look at English. Our spelling is a mess too.
Or should I say to. Or two? <:

So glad I didn't change my name every time I liked a new ideology.
In first year U I would have been D-really-likes-Sartre's-existentialism. Second year, D-Durkeim-is-dreamy. And so on. <:

Anyway the ideogram for 'God' is a determinative. It tells you in which way a symbol is being used.

King tut's name would show the 'king' determinative. If he was not king, it would still have shown 'man'.

As you can see, you would need in excess of 100 signs known just to get started on a pretty much phonetic reading of Ancient Egyptian. I'm learning it for fun. For the Toronto King Tut exhibit.

Attempts to decipher ancient languages used symbol frequency to guess the basic nature of the script.
1) less than 40 common? Alphabet.
2) 100-ish? Syllabary. CV formats were common, though Akkadian also included CVC and also VC. !!!
3) More? Ideograms.
Of course, these categories are by no means discrete.

Tomorrow, I will look at the evolution of punctuation and spacing.
It is strange that the most primitive early efforts needed it but did not use it yet.
The very latest efforts have it, but do not need it.

Friday, January 29, 2010

don't discount INDIA. economic projections. hindi.

India projected to join China in surpassing size of the U.S. economy by
2050 - Business - International Herald Tribune
MUMBAI - The Indian economy will join that of China in surpassing the size
of the U.S. economy by 2050 to become a motor of global growth, according to
a new forecast by Goldman Sachs, the investment bank.
The United States is currently the world's largest economy. Goldman
forecasts that the Chinese economy will pass that of the United States
around 2035, while India will do the same about a decade later.
India has moved onto a much faster growth trajectory than the bank had
previously expected, fueled by strong and steady productivity gains in its
legions of new factories, which are producing everything from brassieres to
The rise of India will lead to increasing global competition for resources
and more pressure on the environment, Goldman said.
Goldman now expects the Indian economy to grow at 8 percent a year through
2020, higher than the 5.7 percent rate it predicted in 2003. Indian trade
has been growing at 25 percent a year since 2003.

D: Hmm. I was read an article today on how their recovery is at risk of superheating the economy with too much inflation. So they are reining in money supply.
Nice problem to have!

Hmm. It would seem that I must look farther into the future than I have to date.
So I shudder to ask, how would Decimese in its present (in the works) incarnation (precarnation?) fare for the Hindi-Urdu language?

Modern Standard Hindi is the official language of India,[1] while Urdu is the national language of Pakistan as well as a scheduled language in India. The two are often held as separate languages on the bases of higher vocabulary choice (and thus mutual intelligibility) as well as cultural orientation (see Ausbau); however on a linguistic basis they are two standardized registers of a single subdialect, that being the Khari boli dialect of Delhi[2] (a diasystem). In keeping with such a linguistic analysis, Hindi and Urdu occupy a single descriptive phonology page, with attention paid to phonological variations between the two registers, and associated dialects, wherever they arise.

Hindi/Urdu distinctions of quality, or length accompanied by quality (that is, /ɪ ~ iː/ and /ʊ ~ uː/).[4]

Hindi/Urdu natively possesses a symmetrical ten-vowel system.[3] The vowels: [ə], [ɪ], [ʊ] are always short in length, while the vowels: [aː, iː, uː, eː, oː, ɛː, ɔː] are always considered long (but see the details below).

D: OK the bit of vowel gemination will throw off other traditions.

The standard educated Delhi pronunciations [ɛ, ɔ] have common diphthongal realizations,

D: good. Good match to Mandarin and English traditions here.

As in French, there are nasalized vowels in Hindi-Urdu. There is disagreement over the issue of the nature of nasalization...

D: missing in the other traditions.


Hindi/Urdu has a core set of 28 consonants inherited from earlier Indo-Aryan. Supplementing these are 2 consonants that are internal developments in specific word-medial contexts,[10] and 7 consonants originally found in loan words, whose expression is dependent on factors such as status (class, education, etc.) and cultural register (Modern Standard Hindi vs Urdu).
Most native consonants may occur geminate (doubled in length; exceptions are /bʱ, ɽ, ɽʱ, ɦ/). Geminate consonants are always medial and preceded by one of the interior vowels (that is, /ə/, /ɪ/, or /ʊ/). They all occur monomorphemically except [ʃː] which occurs only in a few Sanskrit loans where a morpheme boundary could be posited in between (i.e. /nɪʃ + ʃil/ for [nɪʃːil] 'without shame').[7]
For the English speaker, a notable feature of the Hindi/Urdu consonants is that there is a four-way distinction of phonation among plosives, rather than the two-way distinction found in English. The phonations are:
tenuis, as /p/, which is like ‹p› in English spin
voiced, as /b/, which is like ‹b› in English bin
aspirated, as /pʰ/, which is like ‹p› in English pin, and
murmured, as /bʱ/.
The last is commonly called "voiced aspirate"

D: Decent match on consonants. Again, the gemination is lacking in the other traditions.
English voiced/voiceless (AKA voiced/mute), as well as Mandarin aspiration are all used in H-U tradition.
Not quite sure what 'murmered' means.

The murmured consonants are quite a faithful preservation of these sounds right from Proto-Indo-European, a distinction which was lost in all branches of Indo-European family except Indo-Aryan. In the IPA, the five murmured consonants can also be transcribed as /b̤/, /d̪̤/, /ɖ̈/, /dʒ̈/ and /ɡ̈/ respectively.

Oh. OK, won't be using that.

The fricative /h/ in Hindi-Urdu is typically voiced (as [ɦ]), especially when surrounded by vowels, but there is no phonemic difference between this voiceless fricative and its voiced counterpart (Hindi-Urdu's ancestor Sanskrit has such a phonemic distinction).

D: like English. And Decimese.
I.e. word-initial consonant is voiceless.
Word-mid consonant is voiced, like the surrounding vowels.
This is not really phonemic. It is just a convention.
Since there is no distinction between, for example, F/V or S/Z.

Hindi-Urdu has a stress accent, but it is not so important as in English. To predict stress placement, the concept of syllable weight is needed:
A light syllable (one mora) ends in short vowel /ə, ɪ, ʊ/: V
A heavy syllable (two moras) ends in a long vowel /aː, iː, uː, eː, ɛː, oː, ɔː/ or in a short vowel and a consonant: VV, VC
An extra-heavy syllable (three moras) ends in a long vowel and a consonant, or a short vowel and two consonants: VVC, VCC
Stress is on the heaviest syllable of the word, and in the event of a tie, on the last such syllable. However, the final mora of the word is ignored when making this assignment (Hussein 1997) [or, equivalently, the final syllable is stressed either if it is extra-heavy, and there is no other extra-heavy syllable in the word or if it is heavy, and there is no other heavy or extra-heavy syllable in the word]. For example, with the ignored mora in parentheses (Hayes 1995:276ff):

D: OK not sure yet, but penultimate-stress systems usually imply heavy infixing. Let's see if I'm right.

Content words in Hindustani normally begin on a low pitch, followed by a rise in pitch.[19][20] Strictly speaking, Hindi-Urdu, like most other Indian languages, is rather a syllable-timed language. The schwa /ə/ has a strong tendency to vanish into nothing (syncopated) if its syllable is unaccented.

D: OK the pitch-rising of content words is not present in English. I assume a Mandarin speaker would find it somewhat easier.
English speakers do use TWO rising/falling tricks in the interrogative form.
1) question entire statement - last word pitch rising.
2) question just first topicalized entry in sentence - pitch lowers.

Syllable timing

In a syllable-timed language, every syllable is perceived as taking up roughly the same amount of time, though the absolute length of time depends on the prosody. Syllable-timed languages tend to give syllables approximately equal stress, and do not generally have reduced vowels.

D: odd. H-U does reduce schwa to nothing in unstressed syllables, just like English.
But it also has a French-style syllable stress timing system.

In many cases, the meaning of a verb in Hindi/Urdu is broader than the meaning of a translation equivalent. While inherent verbal aspect is determined not just by verb meaning, but also by the properties of the object, aspect in Hindi/Urdu is somewhat less specified by the main verb. The sentence aspect/tense affixes as well as verbal compounds define the interpretation as state, achievement, activity or accomplishment, in combination with some core verb meaning.

D: Hmm. Sounds complicated.

A quick skim read of some sample words suggests that consonant clusters are a no-no for H-U.

So a brief summary is as follows:
1) vowels. fine.
2) diphthongs. likely fine.
3) triphthongs... probably not. That is OK - they are optional in a very advanced version.
4) consonants - fine.
5) syllable structure-fine
6) advanced consonant clusters- likely NOT OK. That's OK - they're optional.

I am still not sure how to express stress. A somewhat taxonomic language, is it prefixing or suffixing? Dunno.
The last syllable may be easiest.
Might be good to add optional diphthongs primarily to this last one, to use H-U instincts to stress a diphthong (or somewhat geminated vowel) more.

In conclusion, so long as we stick to the basic Decimese version, a speaker from India should be fine.
They'll try to overanalyze for sentence cues about what the verb means. But Decimese is simpler.
Their tendency to look for verb post-positions favours an adverb-after-verb arrangement.
However, Decimese in its basic form uses rigid word order, and the particles PRECEDE the verb.
Or are embedded within it.

I was thinking about the idea of showing the semantic deep structure in the phonemic shallow structure.
But optionally. Agreement is also optional. This would basically amount to emphasis.
I.e. Explicitly showing a verb to be stative, or transitive. Showing a subject - actor- to be animated, even human. This cues us to watch for 'action verbs'. Showing the by/to aspect in the verb of a subject-with-object.
Basically, a very rudimentary set of brief grammatical particles can serve as
1) a lexicon to discuss grammar formally, for teaching, and
2) also a 'dummy version' or 'training wheels' that can be overtly indicated as required, for clarity.
H-Urdu speakers might like my idea for use of fairly general verbs in the construction of more complex ones.
I.e. to make/ be made/become. Showing adjective-like states with 'be', action verbs with 'do'. Showing verbals.

I was thinking about whether I'd want "M" to be word-initial. It does not form consonant clusters very well. Much like LRWY and H. Nor does it appear as second consonant in a cluster.
It really does serve well as the word-final 'end cap'.
The 3 nasal consonants do a good job of showing grammatical part combined with rigid word order.
Things get hazy in a hurry with only 2 nasal consonant finals.
I would need to start showing more details explicitly in a mandatory fashion.
Brevity would be lost.
I think the nasal-final consonant is inspired by Esp-o. Yes, I said that!
Vir- man. Base. Bound base, since it MUST take an ending. Except possibly as the 1st 1/2 of a compound noun?
"Thing" -o. So man vir-o. Viro.
Object? Gotta show it. But we've already added a syllable for thing. So now we just add stuff to that mandatory extra syllable.
Object -n. So vir-o-n. Viron.
Plural? -y- in there. Vir-o-y-n. Viroyn.
On one hand, Esp-o will never be brief with this theme of mandatory extra vowel syllable suffixes.
But beyond that, additional detail does not detract from brevity.
Decimese, through careful syllable planning during the design stage- and shameless appeasing of the Chinese - tries to benefit from the good latter part, but not the former part.
-M, -N, -NG. -N nouN. -NG verb (-iNG). -M adverb/adjective (Modifies Meaning).

Hmm. Trouble is, if I use not 5 but 6 or 7 voiced/voiceless pairs, we run out of single-letter Roman alphabet options.
After all, only X (KS) and Q (KW) are available. Capitalizing would slow down typing. H can be heavily used, since it is often conveniently dropped when inside a word as part of an optional complex word formation.
It follows either a vowel or a nasal consonant as a word particle. Even without spaces in typing, this will clearly indicate word boundaries. I.e. ...-VNHAPADAM...
Word...ending -Vowel plus Nasal Consonant. HA. PADAM. The PB and TD pairs make this explicit.
We even know that word-N and ... word-M can ONLY mean noun and ... adverb.
We EVEN know this can only occur in the first 1/2 of the sentence, since SVO word order ensures this.
SVO. noun-verb-noun. Adjectives AND adverbs precede the related noun and verb. So if we have noun then adverb, it can only happen at the S-V junction.
Possible distant future extension of Decimese.

The English words STRENGTHS intrigues me. CCCVCCC phonemically.
S-T-R. And the complex final consonant cluster.
IF. And I say if! If we plan from the very beginning to have particular S/Z then T/D pairs which 'play well' with a R+vowel particle, THEN - and only then! - could we in some future scenario compact it easily to such a complex form.
Ditto SH-plus following consonants.
Nominally, we'd say s-d-r, or at least de-emphasize the T aspect until it approaches D.

But that is another story for another time. Ditto possible gemination. Ditto possible tones. Possibly the TH/TH pair for some
special duty. Dunno what yet. Possibly in lieu of some unworkable word particle + consonant pair for a particular meaning.

I do believe I am planning my own Lang53/SpeedTalk hybrid!

But first things first. An aux-lang...
1) easy for English
2) easy for Mandarin
3) and then easy for Hindi-Urdu speakers.

My weekend assignment involves reviewing the 1st 1000 most common English words.
And formally describing them via all this semantic stuff I read.
Good thing I'm not dating right now... kinda. <:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

on sexism in language. book review. honour. modernity.

A fem-aware friend of mine recommended this.
I am not going to thank her.
BTW, I'm THAT guy. The one who has read every single second-wave feminist classic. And knows why he disagrees.
I took an introduction to feminism studies course in university too. Voluntarily. Well, at first.
Since I've read those books, I read these other books too. Some are out of date and feel anachronistic. Still classics.
1) Myth of Male Power
2) Moral Panic
3) Spreading Misandry

D: anyway, I am rapidly skim-reading Spencer's book, not being willing to waste more of my time than that.

The problem? She completely lacks any understanding of our pre-modern, honorable cultural origins.
Honour is grounded in an age of segregated gender roles.
She finds it terribly significant that there are so many ways to disparage a woman's sexuality.
Of COURSE there is. A woman's part of honour was fidelity and chastity!
A man, conversely, was supposed be gentlemanly towards women and be honorable in a MALE way. Fight-y. Forthright and stuff.
You don't call a man a sl*t to get him going. You call him a chicken. You might even question his sexual prowess.
You would seem strange if you accused of a woman of not being willing to fight.
There are many ways to question man's prowess, and his potency.
And the worst word to use, in public opinion, is C*NT. Even though it is just the anatomical equivalent for any number of common and widely used male put-downs.

The book is a dud and a non-starter. Case closed.

I had already been thinking about certain related vocabulary items. I have always been troubled by 'heart' references. It is a vestige of an ignorant and superstitious past. Take, for example, Esp-o heart-derived words.
Kora (heart... y?) and kore (heart... ily?)
I think they mean dear and cordial or somesuch.
Hey, I like euphemistic and poetic language as much as the next guy.
The Japanese say they're sorry by saying "this thing is like poison to your soul" or thereabouts. Neat.
I am just aiming for a precise language. Folks can poet it up later if they want to.
What does it mean to be 'manly'? The question feels not quite right to a modern. That's because to root various virtues in gender is to fall back on old and obsolete concepts of gender and honour.
We are no longer an honorable people, nor have we been for quite some time. We are humanistic, moralistic.
We no longer worry about glorious war. We fret over incidental collateral damage and want a clean surgical good war. Ethics, not honour. The ones we fight have no such inhibitions. We fight with one hand tied behind our back - and we tied it there.

The Decimese core-concept system *can* express these vestigial concepts from another time, another age.
Man-time-less (old). Adjective.
I prefer the more sterile non-gendered version. If somebody is promiscuous or cowardly, then say so.
One person's promiscuous is liberated. Another's cowardly is a principled pacifist, a conscientious objector.
Moral evaluation: plus or minus. Emphasis as desired.

I've always snickered at Po-mo and De-con. Post modernism and deconstructionism.
We cannot even understand each other? Then stop babbling at me.
Po-mo - about control of language. Then it is for you too. And I cannot trust you and your power play. You don't seek
equality - you see to invert the power relationship.
They really are stalemate strategies that cannot ever result in 'winning'. Mere sophists.
I'm apparently still archived somewhere on a masculinist site. My bud Paul had the ill fortune to be a man in an English M.A. during the P.C. days of the mid-'90s.
He tried to use logic. More the fool! He was told as-per 'total rej' that logic itself was to be rejected as a product of patriarchy.
I pointed out that his opponent had used premise A, premise B, conclusion C format.
Western logic. TO disprove... western logic!? LOL. Well, it works or it doesn't. Again, pointless sophistry.
On that note...
One more parting thought on patriarchal domination of language.

In the media, firefighters, even when the sample is 100% men, will NEVER get referred to as fireMEN.
They are only too happy to describe an unknown shooter as gunMAN.
This flips Spencer's claim on its head.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
'Nuff said.
So much for patriarchy.
P.S. - my spell checker neither recognized "masculinism" nor "misandry".
And THAT says volumes... mysandry masculinist
Nor those.

pai on esp-o. twist on WHY to learn an aux-lang

Pei was a prolific writer on linguistics.

He wrote a book called "One Language for the World" which is also available as audio files.

He points out how hard learning a new language is for many people, and why.

"At the outset of his French (or Spanish, or German, or Russian) course, he is required to do several things, and do them all at once:

attune his ear to unfamiliar sounds, and learn to reproduce them;
master a new system of relationships between alphabetic symbols and spoken language sounds;
adapt his mind to a new, unfamiliar word order, sets of agreements, grammatical rules that run into the hundreds, each with its own series of seemingly illogical exceptions; and above all,
break what to him is the 'natural' link between the objects and actions he describes in speech or writing, and the words by which he has been trained to express those objects and actions."

D: he doesn't claim ANY aux-lang will be EASY. But EASIER:

"But it is far, far easier to concentrate on more words, plus a system of logical, unvarying prefixes and suffixes that always have the same meaning, if one is relieved of the necessity of acquiring and memorizing an infinite series of grammatical rules and exceptions and an arbitrary system of links between spoken sounds and their written representations."

"Esperanto has often been described as a 'bridge' language to span the gap between the speakers of different tongues. It can also be described as a “bridge” language to span the psychological gap between one’s native tongue and any other tongue he may wish to acquire. In this sense, Esperanto justifies itself in the present day educational world by functioning as a stepping stone to the study of foreign..."

D: so he portrays aux-langs as useful to use as a gateway to... other nat-langs.

D: this takes the sting out of a criticism I heard. That English speakers encounter difficulties at the intermediate level of Espo.
At least for the above said purpose. Of course, I then wonder if a simpler intermediate stage would be the solution.
The simple act of cleaning up irregulars and exceptions could, in theory, be done to a reformed nat-lang. A controlled natural language. VERSE in large part is just that. Exposing the deep structure semantic meaning of English and using that instead.

D: I just finished "Voices in Stone", a book on deciphering ancient scripts. Terrific read!
Toronto has a King Tut exhibit now. I wish to be able to read everything phonetically, then up to and including common ideograms.
The book said the problem with short-hands has always been that they are language-specific. It proposed a shorthand derived from the IPA system. I suppose that is what HIOXian is in a roundabout way.

Anyway, the book points out that cultures are emotionally attached and highly conservative about their writing systems.
While reforms from within have been accomplished, they are tactical and not strategic, and never involve a major reboot.
He points out that MacArthur needed to force the Japanese to reform their system, or else they'd still need as many symbols learned for basic fluency as the Chinese. Since nobody forced the Chinese to reform when they were oppressed, safe to say it will not happen now or any time soon.
Trivia: the most complex ideogram is the Chinese sign for "nasal blockage". It involves 11 symbols and 42 or 43 strokes.
The QWERTY keyboard is not well suited to a system with 5000 signs...
A system that methodically applies phonetic aspects at the keyboard level could fare better.
For example, if we allow 13 'basic' letters, a hand-and-half keyboard with the left (off) hand providing 4 variants would have 52 additional permutations. The most obvious distinction would be voiced/voiceless (also called mute).

I imagine I'll become unhappy with the IPA keyboard layout as not sufficiently intuitive and do just that.

In that ABC's book on language, the XYZ's chapter on bilingual teaching points out the following.

There are many faux pas to be made, since one is also dealing with a culture as well as just formal content of the language.
-Silence. Americans fill it with small talk. Japanese like the quiet.
-volume and intonation.
-formal utterances. Nobody is expected to actually respond in detail to "how are you?".
-how personal? Americans ask about health and family. That's rude in India, I think.
Swedes don't ask direct personal questions since Swedes feel constrained to answer them.
I also hear North-Ams will ask about career and income, which apparently doesn't go over well in Europe.

D: I was reading about deaf ASL etiquette.
- wear a shift that contrasts with your skin colour.
- don't wear bright distracting colours. don't have a low neckline. <:
And so on.

D: the book also lists the personality qualities of a good language learner.
-good, willing, accurate GUESSERS.
- not afraid to appear foolish so they TAKE CHANCES.
- NOT AFRAID to construct new unheard sentences.
-look for NEW PATTERNS in the language
- SEEK PRACTICE, even to the point of finding native speakers.

D: some of these qualities are attitude, but many of them point instead to aptitude.
Put another way, my ego will seek out areas that let me shine.

D: like I said, I'm still scarred from learning French. Or not learning it, since I am unable to communicate in it after effectively um 8 years. Reasons for this:
- I moved and started in Grade 7 when the teaching started in Grade 6 for French. Oddly I did very well first year.
- I never learned phonemes.
- I never learned syllable timing.
- I never learned pronunciation.
- I never learned cues for pronunciation.
- I never understood how the grammar differs.
- I still don't know what those stupid diacritics mean
- I never worked on one aspect until mastered, so never really learned any of it
- I never had to use vocabulary enough to master it.
Plus, of course, French is almost entirely useless to a English Canadian anywhere but Quebec.
I could live my entire life fine without saying a single word in French.
It has no UTILITY.

It's safe to say I will never learn a spoken natural language other than English.
The school system saw to that.

My sis and I both have poor memories. We both need to study more then practise more to retain things.
The symester system was brutal on me. I lost so much math each year without constant exposure that I was nearly failing by Grade 13. And did fail stats in university. Her better study habits saved her.
That ABC's book pointed out a problem with a unilingual nation. The USA during the Cold War missed out on much international research. Not only is there a delay in the translation - history is rife with centuries, even millenia wasted due to this lack of dissemination. USA started learning Russian for their scientists. The Sovs, at least, would translate summaries of international research for their scientists.
There is also the massive duplication of redundant research.
Once again, the economic argument is not against an aux-lang. It's for it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Swahili as interlanguage. Chinese vowel clusters

I read of an attempt to have a regional African interlang. It was voted down by the single tribe that had a different linguistic background. Although English (and other European tongues) remain the language associated with a past oppressor, until some locally produced language breaks the stalemate, it will continue to be used.

D: I can imagine the Basques doing something similar with a European interlanguage.

In India, I think there is about a dozen nominally official other languages other than Hindi-Urdu.
English may be a standard of sorts there, but as of a few decades ago, only c. 5% of the country could speak it.
(Kiswahili) is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Indian Ocean coastline from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, including the Comoros Islands.[3] Although only 5-10 million people speak it as their native language,[2] Swahili is also a lingua franca of much of East Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a national or official language of four nations, and is the only language of African origin among the official working languages of the African Union.

Standard Swahili has five vowel phonemes: /ɑ/, /ɛ/, /i/, /ɔ/, and /u/. The pronunciation of the phoneme /u/ stands between International Phonetic Alphabet [u] and [o]. Vowels are never reduced, regardless of stress.

Swahili has no diphthongs; in vowel combinations, each letter is pronounced separately.

D: pretty easy to speak.

BUT. It has a whole heckuva lotta consonants.
Variant pronunciations are common. De-fric'ing the fricatives. <:
Swahili l and r are confounded by many speakers (the extent to which this is demonstrated generally depends on the original mother tongue spoken by the individual), and are often both realized as alveolar lateral flap /ɺ/, a sound between a flapped r and an l also found in Japanese.

D: OK I thought Yoruban was some obscure language. I thought keeping the L/R distinction would only annoy the Japanese.
(Only... big nation!)

Yoruba is the third most spoken native African language.
D- but there are soooo many languages!
The native tongue of the approximately 60 million Yoruba people.

D: - the global largest top 10 languages are all spoken by 100 million or more apiece.

Swahili looks superficially like English consonants put to simpler Romance vowels.



6 simple finals: a, e, i, o, u, ü
13 compound finals: ai, ao, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, üe, uei, uo
16 nasal finals: 8 front nasals: an, en, ian, in, uan, üan, uen, ün
8 back nasals: ang, eng, iang, ing, iong, ong, uang, ueng

D: OK, a closer look complicates Decimese even more.
I thought English would be potentially able to handle a more complex version than Mandarin speakers could.
English, after all has more consonant clusters.
Well, Mandarin seems to have as many diphthongs AND a whole lot of 3-vowel combinations.
This is not entirely a bad thing, though remains a pain during the phonotactic stage.

Recall that I could not figure out how to compact two word particles, each with a vowel, into the main word.
Well, Mandarian allows a series of THREE vowels.
Mandarin speakers don't use many consonant clusters though.
So only H* H* (word) format could be easily compressed into (word with 2 additional * vowels).
Gak! Now I have TWO optional compacting systems. One for English via consonant clusters, and one for Mandarin via vowel series. My head hurts again.

Mandarin syllables have the maximal form CGVCT, where the first C is the initial consonant; G is one of the glides /j w ɥ/; V is a vowel (or diphthong); the second C is a coda, /n ŋ ɻ/ (if diphthongs like ou, ai are analyzed as V) or /n ŋ ɻ j w/ (if not); and T is the tone. In traditional Chinese phonology, C is called the "initial", G the "medial", and VFT the "final" or "rime"; sometimes the medial is considered part of the rime.

D: um, is the "U" with 2-dot diacritic an indication of lip-rounding? Cuz it is in German.
English doesn't use this distinction, though.
It is present in coarticulation or anticipatory articulation. It is just not phonemic.

Gah. Back to the drawing board.

I think I'll complete and understand HIOXian before I manage to figure out IPA.
My memory is poor.

I just learned NATO call-signs. I used them for a memory aid system to learn Morse Code.
I can 'send'; I just cannot 'receive'. I am now trying to to learn the other half in reverse.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

brain uses triangle, not grid, to navigate. implications.

They fire in patterns that show up as geometrically regular, triangular grids when plotted on a map of a navigated surface. They were discovered by a Norwegian lab in 2005 whose research suggested that rats create virtual grids to help them orient themselves in their surroundings, and remember new locations in unfamiliar territory.
Study co-author Dr Caswell Barry said: "It is as if grid cells provide a cognitive map of space. In fact, these cells are very much like the longitude and latitude lines we're all familiar with on normal maps, but instead of using square grid lines it seems the brain uses triangles.

D: Buckminster Fuller was an advocate of using 60 degrees, not 90, as the basis of discussion.

I'd suggest reading his Synergetics but his idiolect take on English is nearly impossible to understand.
Read a book by a translator.
D: skim read it. Some profound ideas.

Tetrahedral Accounting

A chief hallmark of this system of mensuration was its unit of volume: a tetrahedron defined by four closest-packed unit-radius spheres. This tetrahedron anchored a set of concentrically arranged polyhedra proportioned in a canonical manner and inter-connected by a twisting-contracting, inside-outing dynamic named the Jitterbug Transformation.

Marshall McLuhan came to close to Fuller's incomprehensibility.
He coined the term, "the medium is the message".
One soundbite from a whole career of trying. Wow.
I tried reading a book of his on media theory once. Jabberwocky has nothing on him.
It was nonsense verse.
I threw it out.

D: generative semantics. Huh. VERSE (24 quarter-pitch-tone Eastern octave put to pidgin English) resembles this.
I unpacked verb infixes into word particles. Then could place them in a tonal system.
A similar article/adjective system exists for nouns. And so on.
The overt indications of static or non-static verbs could be handy.
The textbook defines killed as cause...become-not-alive.
This is a fascinating hint at how minimal though wordy a vocabulary can be.
I imagine Ogden was aspiring to this.
Though the above definition is clear from each word put together.
It is not idiomatic like some of the get/set/put word combinations.
Put up? Put forth" Put away.
Chair. Sit on the chair. Get the chair- death. Approach the chair- meeting head.

D: gotta read this by Ogden.
And Adam Smith on a math of morality.
Leibniz dreamed of a universal language and a calculus of reason which would reduce all problems to numerical computation.

To stand taller, stand on the shoulders of giants that came before.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

sign language - ASL shorthand already done. darn.

D: well it was a good idea. But it's been done.

The Stokoe system has come to be known by the name of its creator William Stokoe, whose groundbreaking work Sign Language Structure first brought the existence of signed languages to the attention of linguists. By using symbols to represent the component parts of American Sign Language, he was able to demonstrate how these parts fit together to form a linguistic structure identical with that of spoken language. The original notation consisted of 55 symbols in three groups, each representing one of the formational parameters of a sign; Location, HandShape, and Movement. They were written in a strict order with meaning dependent on placement within the string. The Location and Movement symbols were iconic while Hand Shape was represented by units taken from the number system and manual alphabet of ASL. Attached subscripts showed Orientation, later to be recognized as a separate parameter by researchers throughout the world who followed up on Stokoe's original work, to found the new discipline of Sign Language Linguistics. Various research teams made changes in the notation as they adapted it to their own situations, with no commonly accepted standard ever developing. Hence, the system should no longer be viewed as one single notation but as a whole family of related systems.

Unicode ASCII Stokoe** Description
Ø 0 Q neutral location
⩇ Q h face, or whole head (symbol is superimposed ᴖ and ᴗ)
∩ P u forehead, brow, or upper face

A fist (as ASL 'a', 's', or 't')
B flat hand (as ASL 'b' or '4')
5 spread hand (as ASL '5')

Movement (sig) Orientation (dez)
Unicode ASCII Stokoe* Description Unicode ASCII Stokoe* Description
Dʌ D^ D^ moving upward Dʌ ^D D^ facing or pointing upward
Dv Dv Dv moving downward Dv vD Dv facing or pointing downward

Unicode ASCII* Description
B̲ A B A (underline) A under B
B̅ A B A (overline) A over B
BˡB B|B B next to B

D: not quite what I had in mind. I had planned to use to standard Qwerty keyboard symbols.

Decimese insights.

I have 3 tiers in mind.
I just haven's figured out implementation.
I think it will only work for certain combinations, perhaps the most common ones, or most basic concepts.
E.g. "big" -size, more.
I take 2 particles of particular syllable format denoting particular grammatical elements containing certain info types.
I cram them into the basic CVn Decimese word format. The particles become consonant clusters and vowel diphthongs.
... Here is where I get into trouble with the scheme. The H can just disappear, and be implied.
But I end up with THREE vowels. First of all, not all TWO vowel combinations will form useful diphthongs.
Second, I need some rules to get THREE vowels denoted in a 2-part diphthong.
The first important step is careful planning during phonotactics and grammar generation.
I need
1) TWO vowels to form a useful diphthong
2) a way to transform 1) in the event of a THIRD vowel.
My brain hurts...
The obvious solution, or two, would be
1) vowel gemination in the event of an idential vowel. Not really a diphthong - a doubled vowel.
Exactly what I criticized Esp-o for, LOL! Di-in-o. Diino. Um, goddess.
2) only partially compressing 3 discrete words. Attach the second consonant from a word particle to the main word. But keep the HV particle intact, and dipthong it.
This is bound to get complex in a hurry. Good thing this scheme is strictly optional.

I will use a BS example. CV CV CVn.
One CV particle is format H plus vowel.
One is (one of voiced/voiceless consonant pairs) plus vowel.
One is (") plus vowel plus nasal consonant word-final.
For the example, we'll suggest

The basic pidgin form is identical.

The intermediate Mandarin form would fold the HA into the SUM.
Any time a diphthong appears in the core root of the main word (noun, adjective, verb, or adverb, depending on word order and nasal final), then the H is implied but absent. So HA plus SUM would be SUAM. Total - LO SUAM.

The advanced English form would fold BOTH particles into the SUM.
S-L-U-A-M. What of the O? LOL. I don't know yet.
By restricting myself to a subset of existing vowels for likely complex-syllable candidates, I can ensure this quandary does not happen. When it does, we revert to intermediate Mandarin form.

If we had two H elements, for example LO HA HI SUM, we *could* incorporate one H vowel into the other H element.
For example, HA and HI would form HAI, and denote a hybrid subcategory concept.
For example, that passage could become HAI SLUOM.
A root word with multiple syllables - which will be common for detailed words in a taxonomic or even compounding language- provides multiple syllables to hide H* words in.
With SUZABUM, we have 3 syllables to hide particles in.
If vowel gemination is undesirable, then we must plan to "tonal sandhi" rules of a sort to express it alternately.
Like I said, I suspect this 'compacting' trick will only be practical for certain types of concepts.
Of course, H* syllable particles can be embedded intact in the main word.
For example, HI SUZABUM.
We have:
1) Hizuzabum (the S becomes Z mid-word now). I suspect this is identical to the above particle.
2) Su-hi-zabum.
3) Suza-hi-bum.
4) Suzabu-him.
You see how we have many opportunities for nuanced meaning by varying position.
A handful of parsing rules will dictate how this affects meaning.
The word nasal consonant ending dicatates word grammatical category, combined with word order.
Adjective-noun adverb-verb.
For nouns, I intend for the H* placed mid-word to denote compound nouns. It indicates the preposition which indicates the relation between these two parts, and effectively forms the definition.
Keep in mind that by dropping the H and using the remaining vowel as a diphthong mid-word, we effectively have tweaked the English system.
Spaceman. Man in for space? Man FROM space?

I still need to hash out the details. I think the H embedded in a verb will explicitly indicate transitive/ the presence of recursive nestled phrases/clauses.
The dog sits. The dog carries a bone. The dog moved the bone from its kennel to the lawn.

Noun: one who (verbs). Run. Runner. -ness essence. Happy? Happiness. The one who is happy.
Noun-verb hybrids will be odd but useful. The one who is made to be happy. Becomes happy. Makes (other) happy.

English verbs have um 28 different possible forms. Point (jumped - once). Continuous (jumping, continuous).
Just did. About to. And so on.

My design becomes much more difficult once I decide that word particles should have carefully planned rules to be embedded in the form of complex syllbables in the main words.
Ultimately it will be very rewarding. Right now it is just a pain.
Fun ambiguous sentence.
"He liked exciting women."
The funny thing is this leads into a discussion of 'deep structure'. <:

The more I thought about it, the more interesting it was.
He liked TO EXCITE women.
We need to switch to infinitive with a preposition to clarify.
English does NOT use word order ideally.
Adjective noun verb adverb...
As opposed to adjective noun adverb verb...
He excite liked women.
He liked/ exciting-women.
The more I looked at it, the more confusing it became.
-ing is a verb ending. AND an adjective.
Word order is of no help.
Bad implementation...

Aside - I remain intrigued by a "language13/language53" dual implementation.
By that, I mean a Decimese dual approach
1) adults learn pidgin version. Word particles, simple syllables.
2) kids learn the above-the-advanced version.
The language can be 'unpacked' by kids for us slow old farts LOL.
So instead of taking 100 years to implement Lang53 for 100% of the population, we have 100/0 for adult/kid versions to start.
Assuming a highly unlikely universal implementation, in a generation, everybody 20ish knows the full version.
Many older adults don't wish to learn.
But much sooner than LangX's scheme, we have a high level of saturation - at least of the 'lite' version.

Planning for a 2-way compatible system between Lang13 and Lang53 Decimese implementation is daunting!!!

Haha. 2 years into this Decimese project and I'm just nailing down phonotactics!
Oh that is comedy.
Dunno why it'd be easier...
Good thing I have a lifetime.

A more advanced form, one not for the faint of heart, could pull a "language 53" routine.
I.e. incorporate features not intended in the initial distrubution for adult learners.
Ones only likely of use to childhood speakers.
For example, 2 A's could result in A vowel gemination. This could even be combined with a vowel diphthong.
Tone et al.

abundance of English syllables is illusory. Epithet design.

D: at first glance, English has a truly staggering number of possible syllables.
Take the largest single-syllable word.
Even allowing for phonemes, this would still be CCCVCCC.
I suppose we could, in theory, also include a diphthonged vowel.
The S/SH- initial and -S final positions really bump up the total number.

But there are some limits that detract from this theoretical number of syllables.

With a -er ending (either schwa or omitted vowel), we get words like "rubber".
BUT. The tendency to reduce a P/B pair mid-word in such cases to the same sound means we don't
effectively have access to both members of voiced/voiceless consonant pairs.
The unworkable aspects of the concept soon become apparent if you consider the phenomenon of flapping in North American English. In the right environment, this flapping can change either /t/ or /d/ into the allophone [ɾ] for many affected speakers. Here, one allophone is clearly assigned to two phonemes.

However, with rare exceptions, these sounds are not contrastive before plosives such as /p, t, k/ within the same morpheme. Although all three phones appear before plosives, for example in limp, lint, link, only one of these may appear before each of the plosives. That is, the /m, n, ŋ/ distinction is neutralized before each of the plosives /p, t, k/:
Only /m/ occurs before /p/,
only /n/ before /t/, and
only /ŋ/ before /k/.

Restricted phonemes

A restricted phoneme is a phoneme that can only occur in a certain environment: There are restrictions as to where it can occur. English has several restricted phonemes:
/ŋ/, as in sing, occurs only at the end of a syllable, never at the beginning (in many other languages, such as Swahili or Thai, /ŋ/ can appear word-initially).
/h/ occurs only before vowels and at the beginning of a syllable, never at the end (a few languages, such as Arabic, or Romanian allow /h/ syllable-finally).
In many American dialects with the cot-caught merger, /ɔ/ occurs only before /r/, /l/, and in the diphthong /ɔɪ/.
In non-rhotic dialects, /r/ can only occur before a vowel, never at the end of a word or before a consonant.
Under most interpretations, /w/ and /j/ occur only before a vowel, never at the end of a syllable. However, many phonologists interpret a word like boy as either /bɔɪ/ or /bɔj/.

D: co-articulation dispatches some other theoretically permissible combinations.

IN-credible. But IM-possible.
Trying to say INpossible takes some work.
So, in effect, we are denied the possibility of two separate prefixes in- and -im-.

D: and what you see - the letters- may not be what you get.
Think. Thi -ng -k. Try to say thi - n -k. Takes work, huh?
Shared manner or place, likely. Guess Chomsky-ites would say shared aspect.
D: English plural -s, -z and -ez would be another example.
Since we find that cats and dogs do in fact have nothing in common (sounded -s and -z respectively), we could not treat these as 2 separate suffix endings.

Don't get me wrong; English has an impressive number of monosyllable words.
Just not as many as we might initially assume.

If we were to sit down and plan out a series of phonemes that allow very easy, fast, accurate and lazy speech, we would find the number of acceptable combinations would be even less.

A partially taxonomic scheme has 2 benefits:
1) it lowers the number of elements to memorize, and
2) it makes planning efficient use of syllables easier.
One of Esp-o claims is that learning a mere 1000 base/stems allows basic conversation.
Well, by re-using even more basic elements with slight variations outlined, we can lower this requirement.
This is only one consideration of what would make an aux-lang easy - the primary consideration, particularly one catering to adult-second-language learners.
If this can be reduced to 250-500, then that would prove a real help in rapidly learning enough vocabulary to being conversing.
Slight variations are arguably another element that must be learned, though I think of it more like noun-compounding.
E..g the heavy recycling of AEIOU's association with spacetime's 0,1,2,3 and 4 (time) dimensions.
Overlapping with in/centre, in, out/near, out/far concepts. The core of geometry, spatial prepositions (and temporal ones derived from them) as well as a potential core pronoun system.
Know 1? Then slight variants to denote once, first, and so forth. OK that is not profound.

The more I study common English words, the more I find:
1) a few very basic math-space-time (arithmetic, geometry) concepts re-used repeatedly, and
2) a few more advanced 'human' concepts such as social prestige, building, economic/political/social/legal, institution, hierarchal position et al re-used incessantly.
Esp-o "biblioteko" - a solitary word that must be learned, even though 'book -place - building' concepts already existed indicates "Z" never methodically applied this insight.

Men, gentlemen and rogues.
"Ladies and gentlemen." "Men and women" .... "Rogues and sluts"?
A respect for social position is ubiquitous in natural languages.
A simple neutral default indicator for 'social prestige', with +/- option pairs is darn handy.
Odd that I am including ways to insult people.
Heavy? "Stocky, big boned?" "One fat f**k!"
Ditto, disturbingly, all manner of bias. Gender, colour, religion, ethnic group, nationality.
Add a 1984-style "double plus" phoneme pair (maybe L/R and W/Y? or thereabouts) and we have a way to make some mean comments. The kind that start fights.

Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford
No better term than this,--thou art a villain.
A language that could not capture Shakespeare has no business posing as a language.
The modern person understands that villain is meant to be a deadly insult.

c.1300, "base or low-born rustic," from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. villain, from M.L. villanus "farmhand," from L. villa "country house" (see villa).
"The most important phases of the sense development of this word may be summed up as follows: 'inhabitant of a farm; peasant; churl, boor; clown; miser; knave, scoundrel.' Today both Fr. vilain and Eng. villain are used only in a pejorative sense." [Klein]
Meaning "character in a novel, play, etc. whose evil motives or actions help drive the plot" is from 1822.

D: they just don't understand WHY.

Much of Shakespeare is lost on modern audiences. Even those in drama/theatre.

I don't personally care for it much. It is also very difficult for ESL speakers.
My Parisian French GF could speak English well enough. I took her to see "Much Ado about Nothing".
She was totally lost.

"Vulgar" is ultimately also an elitist reference to commoners.

Decimese: concept: common, average. Plus/minus. Prestige indicator. It that respect for the hard-working Joe 6pack blue collar?
Or contempt for the unwashed masses?

Decimese would need to express such epithets robustly.

A polite language a nice idea. But rowdy humour, off-colour jokes and nasty put-downs are part of communication.
They must be incorporated. Besides, folks would need to invent them otherwise anyway.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Urdu Indian alphabet order makes best sense

See end - pic is of a proposed Chomsky phonology-derived HIOXian diacritic system.

D: The Hindi alphabet is laid out with a keen sense of articulation.
Letters are grouped by the means by which the sound is made.
Like with like.

The overall sequence of all alphabet has a specific order. The order of the letters depends on the place (in the mouth) where it is pronounced. The sound of the letters in the alphabet start from the back (deep) of the throat and steadily moves upwards & outwards to the front of the mouth (towards lips).
So when one speaks Hindi alphabet, the sound (of the letters) constantly moves outwards starting from the bottom of the mouth and ending towards the front of the mouth. Isn't that fascinating?

And that's not all. Each group of letters above (usually grouped in four), are also arranged in specific sequence. Take first four letters for instance: क ख ग घ.
The same sequence (non-voiced/non-aspirated to voiced/aspirated) follows for:
D: a guide to how to pronounce the
Hindi alphabet.

HIOXian will have a 'letter order' based on the Hindi system.

D: the other pics are of a proposed HIOXian system. It is based on a hybrid of traditional and Chomsky-esque phonology.
I will likely prioritize both English and Mandarin (and so Decimese) in the core letter, so that the diacritic is strictly optional.
I suspect the core figure, the HIOX (H on I on O on X) will contain adequate information for a particular language.
The diacritic will provide additional information. Sometimes this will be redundant with the core figure.
Sometimes the diacritic will contain additional information on timing.

D: Decimese has the core syllable for most vocabulay of CVn - consonant, vowel, nasal consonant.
Initial, mid and final positions.
More complex would be consonant clusters of C plus semivowel.
Dual vowels indicate a diphthong - a "long vowel".
The most complex single-syllable word would be CcVvn.
A slightly more lengthy word would be CcVvcvn.
The top horizontal bars denote time duration. English technically sounds vowels near a mid-word-placed voiced consonant longer. However this is hard to denote with a standard vowel, so 'tis easier to show above said voiced consonant.
So the longest single syllable Decimese word would be CcVvN, as denoted by
1) C - word initial unvoiced but aspirated consonant (PTKFS SH J)
2) c - semivowel consonant. (LRWY)
3) V - vowel (short) (AEIOU)
4) v - diphthong 2nd part (making 3) and 4) a 'long vowel' aeiou as denoted by that or -w or -y
5) N - nasal consonant (M, N, NG)

I may develop 3 systems. Two will be familiar - broad and narrow transcription.
A 'mid-width' version could allow expression of allophones within a language, but without the mind-numbing detail of full-blown IPA.
I may allow 3 vertical levels for the square core figure. High, medium and low.
Our Roman alphabet basically has this.
Mid- aeiou. High - hklb. Low - gjp.
However, HIOXian would not have et al.
I.e. all mid-tier squares would share phoneme-class features.
For example, Chomsky doesn't allow discrete vowel OR consonant categories.
Semivowels occupy the middle no-man's-land.
Concise systems of this nature can capture all English sounds in 15 aspects.
The totality of world languages would require 25.
The basic HIOX figure contains 16 segments. The diacritic contains 7, for 23 so far.
A - - underline (or overline) would push the total to 25.
That's a tight fit!
I think I'll use IPA motif for deep transcription. I.e. a large HIOX figure low and left.
With a smaller HIOX figure high and right.
That would give us ... 16x2 or 32 bar segments to express 25 aspects.

Traditional phonology charts are also unforgiving.
The consonants are laid out in a 7x7 chart, the vowels on 5x5.
A HIOX is 3x3 plus there are diagonal segments.

I would *like* to have the option of all core HIOX figures on the same level.
However, I may need to stick to the original scheme with vowels low and consonants high.
The diacritic would be over and under respectively. I may include the - - opposite the diacritic for additional or even redundant information, to make it visually clear.
Chomsky's theme, though, would refute this neat division between consonant and vowel.

Chomsky's English phoneme features include:
1) vocal
2) consonantal
3) continuous
4) nasal
5) abruptness
6) lateral
7) voiced
8) tensed
9) strident
10) coronal
11) anterior
And front-back -high -low.

The proposed diacritic scheme clearly indicates word boundaries for Decimese syllables and words.
Aspirated-semivowel-vocalic consonantal - vowel- 2nd diphthonged vowel - nasal consonant.
Note. The "T" in "tap" is aspirated - think breathy. T-hhh.
But in Ratan, the T is not aspirated, since it is not word initial.
Ergo, the aspiration diacritic mark in Decimese indicates a word-initial voiceless counterpart consonant to a word-mid voiced consonant.
In English, this reflects rules of sounding out allophones.
Tadan. T- aspirated {T h}. D- voiced, but not aspirated. And so on.
The horizontal diacritic bar segments reflect duration of the sound.
For ease of cursive writing, all word-internal characters may well be drawn with one long arcing line.
I suppose a diagonal or squiggle could be used to denote an implied break.


Special thanks to Adrian for yesterday's contribution!
Never has such a memorable poem been inked on such memorable parchment! <:

Friday, January 22, 2010

through the looking glass lightly: Jabberwocky


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

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
D: this poem gets more mileage in linguistic textbooks and studies!

This is an example of a nonsense poem.

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice finds a poem in book and tries to read it, but the poem is written backwards, so she holds it up to a mirror to read it. She still does not understand it, even though she claims it did seem give her ideas.

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: take the first passage.

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

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.

And so armed, we can engage in a constituent analysis.

Traditional school grammar works up to a point.
Noun. Right. Verb. Right.
... Adverb? Nope.
It take -ly you say? You drive quickly. BUT. You drive... FAST. Not fastly.
Prepositions, conjunctions and interjections do not have clear morphological indicators.
Hit - is it a noun or verb?
Beautiful - if it is an adjective, why can it not take comparative -er ending?
If poor is an adjective, then how can the poor be at a disadvantage?

So once again, we visit Alice in Wonderland.

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

'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.

D: I recall a few years ago how the SAT test in the USA had an essay. A computer was marking it automatically.
Someone wrote nonsense verse with impeccable grammar.
LOL! The computer gave them high marks.
Completely lacking meaningful content!

Our brains are good at sorting out meaning from very little helpful data:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

D: there was no study. But the passage makes its point.

Rhotic rumble: IAL smackdown. Compared to Mandarin.

D: I'm comparing phonological and grammatical features of 4 IALs to Mandarin Chinese.
Lojban, Esp-o, Ceqli and LangX. Only Lojban makes no pretenses about being designed initially as a global IAL.


D: Huh. The Wiki goes into more detail than I need right now on phonology.

Unaspirated Aspirated Nasal Voiceless
fricative Voiced
Labial b p m f
Alveolar d t n l
Velar g k h
Palatal j q x
Dental sibilant z c s
Retroflex zh ch sh r
In Mandarin Chinese there are 35 final sounds:

6 simple finals: a, e, i, o, u, ü
13 compound finals: ai, ao, ei, ia, iao, ie, iou, ou, ua, uai, üe, uei, uo
16 nasal finals: 8 front nasals: an, en, ian, in, uan, üan, uen, ün
8 back nasals: ang, eng, iang, ing, iong, ong, uang, ueng
Additional syllables in Mandarin Chinese:

7 special cases: er, hm, hng, m, n, ng, ~r

D: but the rules for syllable construction are both restrictive by format, and arbitrary by quirk.

a, ai, an, ang, ao
ba, bai, ban, bang, bao, bei, ben, beng, bi, bian, biao, bie, bin, bing, bo, bu
ca, cai, can, cang, cao, ce, cei, cen, ceng, cha, chai, chan, chang, chao, che, chen, cheng, chi, chong, chou, chu, chua, chuai, chuan, chuang, chui, chun, chuo, ci, cong, cou, cu, cuan, cui, cun, cuo
da, dai, dan, dang, dao, de, dei, den, deng, di, dian, diao, die, ding, diu, dong, dou, du, duan, dui, dun, duo
e, ê, ei, en, er
fa, fan, fang, fei, fen, feng, fo, fou, fu
ga, gai, gan, gang, gao, ge, gei, gen, geng, gong, gou, gu, gua, guai, guan, guang, gui, gun, guo
ha, hai, han, hang, hao, he, hei, hen, heng, hm, hng, hong, hou, hu, hua, huai, huan, huang, hui, hun, huo
ji, jia, jian, jiang, jiao, jie, jin, jing, jiong, jiu, ju, juan, jue, jun
ka, kai, kan, kang, kao, ke, kei, ken, keng, kong, kou, ku, kua, kuai, kuan, kuang, kui, kun, kuo
la, lai, lan, lang, lao, le, lei, leng, li, lia, lian, liang, liao, lie, lin, ling, liu, long, lou, lu, luo, luan, lun, lü, lüe
m, ma, mai, man, mang, mao, mei, men, meng, mi, mian, miao, mie, min, ming, miu, mo, mou, mu
n, na, nai, nan, nang, nao, ne, nei, nen, neng, ng, ni, nian, niang, niao, nie, nin, ning, niu, nong, nou, nu, nuo, nuan, nü, nüe
o, ou
pa, pai, pan, pang, pao, pei, pen, peng, pi, pian, piao, pie, pin, ping, po, pou, pu
qi, qia, qian, qiang, qiao, qie, qin, qing, qiong, qiu, qu, quan, que, qun
ran, rang, rao, re, ren, reng, ri, rong, rou, ru, rua, ruan, rui, run, ruo
sa, sai, san, sang, sao, se, sei, sen, seng, sha, shai, shan, shang, shao, she, shei, shen, sheng, shi, shou, shu, shua, shuai, shuan, shuang, shui, shun, shuo, si, song, sou, su, suan, sui, sun, suo
ta, tai, tan, tang, tao, te, teng, ti, tian, tiao, tie, ting, tong, tou, tu, tuan, tui, tun, tuo
wa, wai, wan, wang, wei, wen, weng, wo, wu
xi, xia, xian, xiang, xiao, xie, xin, xing, xiong, xiu, xu, xuan, xue, xun
ya, yan, yang, yao, ye, yi, yin, ying, yong, you, yu, yuan, yue, yun
za, zai, zan, zang, zao, ze, zei, zen, zeng, zha, zhai, zhan, zhang, zhao, zhe, zhei, zhen, zheng, zhi, zhong, zhou, zhu, zhua, zhuai, zhuan, zhuang, zhui, zhun, zhuo, zi, zong, zou, zu, zuan, zui, zun, zuo

D: don't try posting all monosyllables in English- there a lot more.

OK, so we see what the initial problems with almost every IAL will be be.
1) phonemes - particularly voiced/voiceless consonant pairs
2) syllable format - the initial/end rules are brutal.

Grammar: Subject Verb Object - the same as English.
Heavy use of optional word particles to denote nuance. Infixes are basically absent.

So immediately, any Latinate or European-derived language is in trouble.
Including "Euroclones lite" - tastes great, but still Euro.

Consonants Vowels & diphthongs
Letter English IPA Letter English IPA
b b [b] a ah [a, ɑ]
c ts [t͡s] e eh [e, ɛ]
ĉ ch [t͡ʃ] i ee [i]
d d [d] o oh [o, ɔ]
f f [f] u oo [u]
g hard g
(as in go) [ɡ]
ĝ j [d͡ʒ] aj bye [ai̯, ɑi̯]
h h [h] aŭ bough [au̯, ɑu̯]
ĥ loch [x] ej bay [ei̯, ɛi̯]
j y [j] eŭ * [eu̯, ɛu̯]
ĵ zh [ʒ] oj boy [oi̯, ɔi̯]
k k [k] uj buoy** [ui̯]
l l [l] (as one syllable)
m m [m] * Something similar to eŭ can be heard in exaggerated mimicry – as
delivered by such American comedians as Carol Burnett – of the
pronunciation in British RP of the word "oh"
** where pronounced roughly as written, and not homophonous with "boy"
Ŭ is a consonant in names and a few interjections, such as ŭa! (waa!)
n n [n]
p p [p]
r r (rolled) [r]
s s [s]
ŝ sh [ʃ]
t t [t]
v v [v]
z z [z]

D: Huh. Mandarin is one of the few groups that won't stumble on the Ts- sound.

But 'tis not the phonemes, but phonotactics that prove problematic.
Mandarin, when it allows a consonant in final position, only regularly allow -N and -NG.

Since Esp-o basically allow mirror image syllable formats, as well as adjacent CVC- syllables, Mandarin speakers are in trouble.
Oddly, all the Esp-o sites that talk about Mandarin speakers claim they take to Esp-o like a duck to water...
Ditto the mono/polysyllable divide.
In RESP training, the word that kicked the Chinese guy's ass was "inevitability". Simple syllable structures, but highly polysyllabic, with a staccato delivery.


A syllable in Esperanto is generally of the form (s/ŝ)(C)(C)V(C)(C). That is, it may have an onset, of up to three consonants

Any consonant except h may close a syllable, though coda ĝ and ĵ are rare in monomorphemes (they contrast in aĝ’ 'age' vs. aĵ’ 'thing'). Within a morpheme, there may be a maximum of four sequential consonants, as for example in instruas "teaches", dekstren "to the right". Long clusters generally include a sibilant such as s or one of the liquids l or r.
Geminate consonants generally only occur in polymorphemic words, such as mal-longa "short"

'Nuff said. I still cannot say anything in Esp-o derived from science.
D: if we are only talking about a childhood language, when the mind is still plastic and flexible, no problem.
For that matter, we could teach Xoo with a staggering number of phonemes and a Cantonese tone system while we're at it.
But if an IAL must be learned by adults, and ones from diverse linguistic backgrounds that are not professional linguists and/or accomplished polygots.... we have a problem.

I'm done now.

1. 2. Diphthongs
Lojban has 16 diphthongs (a kind of sound which consists of a vowel plus a glide, always constituting a single syllable). The combinations , , and , for instance, are all realized as the corresponding falling diphthongs. To force these sounds to be pronounced separately as monophthongs, a comma can be put between them. Triphthongs do not exist in Lojban.

D: oddly not a problem for Mandarin, which uses diphthongs heavily.
Having said that, this will just SLAY a whole lotta linguistic backgrounds.

Phoneme Grapheme Sounds like
open a (ɑ) a like the "a" in father, NOT like in hat.
front mid ɛ (e) e like the "e" in bet, NOT like in beep
front close i i like the "i" in machine, NOT like in igloo
back mid o (ɔ) o like the "o" in open, NOT like opera
back close u u like the "oo" in moon, NOT like in cup
central mid ə y like the "a" in sofa, NOT as in yellow
voiceless labial f (ɸ) f like the "f" in fat
voiced labial v (β) v like the "v" in vast
voiceless velar x x Like the "ch" in the Scottish loch, or like the German Bach, or like the "j" in Spanish José, or like the "Kh" in Arabic Khaled.
unvoiced glottal / unvoiced dental h (θ) '
voiceless alveolar s s
voiced alveolar z z
voiceless coronal ʃ (ʂ) c like the "sh" in shoe
voiced coronal ʒ (ʐ) j like the "s" in vision
voiceless bilabial p p
voiced bilabial b b
voiceless dental / voiceless alveolar t t
voiced dental / voiced alveolar d d
voiceless velar k k
voiced velar ɡ g
glottal ʔ .
labial glide w u-
palatal glide j i-
voiced lateral l (l)̩ l
voiced bilabial m (m)̩ m
voiced dental / voiced velar n (n̩, ŋ, ŋ̩) n
rhotic r, ɹ, ɾ, ʀ, r ̩, ɹ̩, ɾ̩, ʀ̩ r

brivla (bridi valsi) "part of speech: content word"

D: briv-la. It seems like a pretty simple word to an English speaker.
Not so for a Mandarin speaker.
BR - consonant cluster. Nope.
BRIV- ending in V. Nope.

So Lojban gets part marks for phonology selection. Then loses some for somewhat difficult syllable rules.

I just picked the first contributor.

There are five vowels, two semivowels, and 14 consonants.


A (father); E (pet); I (sheet); O (coat); U (shoot)


P (pen); B (bet); K (kangaroo); G (go); T (ten); D (den); C (cheat, or alternately shell); S (sit); F (find); H (loch, red); M (mine); N (not); L (long)


Y (yard); W (water)

D: Hmm, we immediately get into trouble with the PB distinction. I'm sure it is widely acceptable.
One could argue that aspiration could be used, but this will be opaque to non-Mandarin speakers.

Perhaps we fare better in the syllable rules.

Hello: Canti. (peace)
Good Bye: Canti
Thank you: Asante (thanks)
You're welcome: No yau asante (no need thanks)
I'm sorry: Skusa
Don't worry: Aca / No susi (no worry)
Excuse me: Mafan

D: this fares pretty well but not perfectly. The consonant-Y-vowel format will be tricky (mine is optional).
And S+K is gonna be tricky too.
So not perfect, though fairly good.
Surprisingly poor in light of how few phonemes there are, though.


B as in Boy
C as in CHin
D as in DuD
F as in FluFF
G as in Good
H as in Hat
J as in John, Gem
K as in KinK
P as in PiP
S as in So
T as in ToT
V as in Victory
X as in SHoe
Z as in Zoo

The other 12 are considered vowels in Ceqli

Five Full Vowels:

A as in fAther
E as in bEt*
I as in machIne
O as in bOAt
U as in bOOt

And two semivowels:

W as in We, coW
Y as in You, boY

And five sounds, nasals and liquids, that are usually thought of
as consonants, but are considered vowels in Ceqli:

L as in LuLL
M as in MiM
N as in NooN
Q as in siNG
R as in RoaR (Midwestern American or Mandarin preferred, but any 'r' sound will do.)

W and Y make these diphthongs:

ay - as in frY
aw - as in cow
ey - as in bAthe
oy - as in bOY
ya - as in YArd
ye- as in YEllow
yo - as in YOre
yu - as in YOU
wa - as in WAter
we - as in WEt
wi - as in WE

D: A perfect score!!!
Not surprising, since it is largely based on Mandarin that way.
This is not a criticism. So is Decimese.

Triphthongs are possible though rare:
yay as in YIkes!
waw as in WOW!
wey as in WAY
yey as in YAY
yoy as in YOIks!

OK a coupla of these will be tricky.

dan - in, inside from French "dans"
dom - house from Russian/Latin — also English "domestic"
go - I or me (note that it's a GW, as are the following pronouns)
zi - you from German "Sie"
da - he, she, or it (above I stated that "da" introduces a verb phrase. All pronouns do.) from Logan "da"
gozi - we (inclusive) this is an example of compounded GW's.
goda - we (exclusive)

D: once again, great marks!

Just about perfect.

D: so there we have it.
Model T Ford.
60's muscle car.
Modern sedan.
Niice peppy compact!

So what is Decimese?
<: A hybrid. <:

The trick is to use the LangX trick. Just like Esp-o wished to freeze developments, even "improvements" until after accepted as the standard, LangX is waiting for saturation.
LangX begins with a small phoneme selection and simple syllables.
Over generations, it would methodically increase in complexity.
I've noted my muted criticism of their implementation details.
Their linear progression would leave many have-nots behind.
Also, I understand why the initial lang13 offering has no tone.
There is NO reason why later progression would not also include tone.
Every bit as much as it should include more sounds and acceptable syllable forms.
With a different approach, they could evolve their way into SpeedTalk.

Anyway, LangX uses the trick of increasing categories intergenerationally.
My Decimese at the intermediate stage, or for some linguistic backgrounds, can embed word particles into the main word in the form of more complex syllables.
CV CVC .... CCVVC. Or cv CVC... CcVv(nasal).
I already explored using tone to do just this with an English-derived pidgin in VERSE.
I don't suppose there is any reason I could not more ambitiously bootstrap my way from Decimese to "Speedtalk".
But the level of planning required to not paint myself into a corner is staggering.
And LOL after two years I am only now nailing down basic phonotactics and grammar format LOL.
As well as core vocabulary.

I read an article on China today. They warned that free flow of info on the net could "hurt bilateral relations". The world would have found it hard to believe the chutzpah of this just a mere decade ago.
When Esp-o was being written a century ago, China was an ancient empire that had been soundly beaten by firearms.
Of course, Esp-o did not emphasize ease of learning for Mandarin speakers.

Every day, Esp-o will drift farther away from viability as China rises ascendant.
Even widely palatable pidgins will fail to meet the demanding limitations of Mandarin.
Whether China supplants the USA or the entire English-speaking world is not necessary to make my point.
They're playing in the big league with the big boys now. Nobody seriously thinks that will change.
Looking to the future, I see what Ceqli sees. A lowest-common-denominator between English and Mandarin.
I just wish to capture Sapir's "spirit of the age" more explicitly. And provide a novel, robust meta-vocabulary for all common terms to boot. Much like a taxonomic system that way.
It is no coincidence that the last 3 influential books I've read have been:
1) The Blank Slate
2) Honour: a History
3) The God Delusion.
Reason and superstition. I associate every natural language, and pidgin/interlang IALs with the latter.
Not based in math, in science, in reason.
We replaced alchemy with chemistry. Astrology with astronomy. Vitalism with biology.
But one aspect of human existence - a central one -maybe the central one- remains unexamined.
Lojban and a handful of others can lay claim to carrying the flag for Sapir.
A language that has the format of Mandarin in the form of a subset of acceptable English phonotactics, and that possesses both the message of Sapir as well as a format to express it well is fit to inherit the mantle of "world language".
There it is.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"bio-evolution" hypothesis challenges drift theory

The study argues that human languages may adapt more like biological organisms than previously thought and that the more common and popular the language, the simpler its construction to facilitate its survival.

Traditional thinking is that languages develop based upon random change and historical drift. For example, English and Turkish are very different languages based upon histories that separate them in space and time. For years, it has been the reigning assumption in the linguistic sciences.


The researchers found striking relationships between the demographic properties of a language — such as its population and global spread — and the grammatical complexity of those languages. Languages having the most speakers — and those that have spread around the world — were found to have far simpler grammars, specifically morphology, than languages spoken by few people and in circumscribed regions. For example, languages spoken by more than 100,000 people are almost six times more likely to have simple verb conjugations compared to languages spoken by fewer than 100,000 people.

Larger populations tend to have simpler pronoun and number systems and a smaller number of cases and genders and in general do not employ complex prefixing or suffixing rules in their grammars. A consequence is that languages with long histories of adult learners have become easier to learn over time. Although a number of researchers have predicted such relationships between social and language structure, this is the first large-scale statistical test of this idea.

D: Makes sense. We each have our own unique take on our native tongue. It even varies between family members.
That's called an "idiolect". ? Idiosyncratic dialect ?

The more numbers and geographical area that need to communicate, the more the mandatory complexities of a grammar would need to be 'dumbed down' to the lowest common denominator.
This does support the idea that any particular national language that gains international status faces such pressures.
In other words, if English were to become the "official world language", this would not be a victory for English as we know it.
It would gradually cease to resemble the cultural English that we know and understand. And sometimes even love.

Some nice primers on Dubitanto. Er, Esp-o. <:
We see the historical quandary. Until popular, one must NOT tinker with an aux-lang. We need 1 standard first.
BUT. How to get there.
I have an elegant though useless suggestion for Esp-o. Too little, too late.
Don't release a half-tested language to the public.

In software, we call that 'beta-testing'.

"Beta" is a nickname for software which has passed the alpha testing stage of development and has been released to users for software testing before its official release. It is the prototype of the software that is released to the public. Beta testing allows the software to undergo usability testing with users who provide feedback, so that any malfunctions these users find in the software can be reported to the developers and fixed. Beta software can be unstable and could cause crashes or data loss

The users of a beta version are called beta testers. They are usually customers or prospective customers of the organization that develops the software. They receive the software for free or for a reduced price, but act as free testers.
D: in video game software, the market supports premature release of buggy games.
Then along comes the patch to fix everything. And wham! Your character gets wiped out, along with all the levels and the time and energy you put in to it to get there.

D: aux-langs, however, do not share the insatiable demand of game consumers. The market is opposite.
Imagine, if you will, an public unwilling to purchase one of dozens of games on the shelf.
I'd feel confident to say that game companies would not be willing to give consumer access to a shoddy, undeveloped game.

Well, that's the aux-lang "market" for you.

After the core fan-boy group 'buys' your aux-lang, the more discerning consumers pick and choose. They read the reviews from early adopters. They base their 'purchase' decisions on those reviews.
Most aux-langs hit a ceiling of popularity. Well, all.
This ceiling - and how high it is- is based on how niche the ideological space of the aux-lang is.
In our analogy, is the 'game' (language) a first person shooter or a rarified whodunit?
Beyond that, the quality of the game ultimately dictates the game's popularity.
Many people will play a good game, though not all.
Take "Rock Band", for example. Even I play it - and I don't play games!
What we need in the aux-lang community is such a fresh rethink that non-gamers (linguist geeks) want to play (learn).
After all, Rock Bank is just a clever rethink of Kareoke, which has been around forever.
But it went mainstream - it got HUGE.
I suppose World of Warcraft qualifies too.

A quality product of the right subgenre is part of it. But the Kareoke or MMO aspect (social) is important too.

An aux-lang designer should consider these lessons from the very conception of the language.

I make this solemn promise: I'll never ask anybody to 'beta test' for me, unless my languague is clearly a pre-release test version.
I wouldn't even want many to learn that - it makes unlearning so difficult.

Later this week - the old order changes, yielding place to the new.
I'll compare the phonology, phonotactics and grammar of Mandarian to various IAL attempts.
I will focus solely on those designed as IALs.
Since the syllable rules (sans tone) for Mandarin are brutally limited, and the grammar superficially very simple, this is definitely a 'trial by fire' for any IAL. Even pidgin/creole-derived/based ones.
The rise of China is not something considered by any historical IAL attempt.
D: I suspect only Ceqli will fare very well at all.