Saturday, March 26, 2011

gender and pronouns and animals

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has asked the Committee on Bible Translation to update the New International Version Bible to include more animal-friendly language, according to CNN.

However, experts say making the change may be easier said than done. David Berger, the dean of Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel graduate school of Jewish studies, said given the nature of ancient Hebrew, moving to an English version that identifies an animal's gender would be extremely difficult.

"There’s simply no such thing as a neutral noun," Berger told CNN. "It’s unusual to have a noun that would indicate the sex of the animal."

A modular approach to pronouns could work.
Even a system without pronouns per se.

E.g. gender, and single/plural and human/inanimate optional.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

language of portraying negative #s

Numbers can be seen metaphorically as quantities, points, distances or operations, as constructed objects and as relations.

"But no individual metaphor for numbers can make negative numbers fully comprehensible," continues Kilhamn. "It is therefore important that the deficiencies and limitations of these metaphors are also made clear in teaching, and that logical mathematical reasoning is used in parallel with concretised models."

Her study also highlights a number of problems relating to the fact that the mathematical language used in Swedish schools is a little ambiguous or inadequate. For example, no distinction is made between subtracting the number x and the negative number x if both are referred to as "minus x." There is also no word in the Swedish language corresponding to the English term "signed number."

"Swedish textbooks introduce negative numbers without making it clear that all the natural numbers change at the same time and become positive numbers," she adds. "Another difficulty is the size of negative numbers, which have two contradictory properties that are distinguished in mathematics by separating absolute value (magnitude) from real value (position). A large negative number has a smaller value than a small negative number. This distinction also needs to be made clear to pupils."


D (short for my name. And for duh! if you didn't get that) - some languages may be better able to express math concepts, giving that group a competitive advantage.

We've already mentioned the importance of # names themselves.
I have yet to procure a copy of the book "Outliers" (I think it is called that).

I was looking at typical # naming conventions.
English - zero, one, two, three...
Espo - ?, unu, du, tri...
Visemese - (2-4) ba, cha, da...
Comments - The English # names are challenging to spell for newbies. They are also often long, and so require more working memory.
Espo- ses and sep (6 and 7) have only 1 minimal pair difference, so would be easy to confuse with each other. Both 4 and 5, kvar, and kvin, begin with kv-.
Visemese- even though there is a regular method to the naming (simply listing the consonants, which are each linked to a # concept thereby), they too suffer from the minimal pair issue noted above.

I think the musical note naming convention provides a useful guideline.
Do re mi fa sol la ti...
Both the consonant and (often) the vowel vary.
They are typically of short C-V construction.
By drawing a diagonal line through a chart showing C-V combinations,
we have clear-sounding, short and methodical # names.
In CVN, this seems the ideal trade-off.
This insight can be extended to naming other basic concepts.

I still hope to apply various AUI and syllabary notions to this jumbled mess.
I hope sufficient planning can make for some sort of obvious inherent shorthand system. For example, each letter (small and capital?), #, and so on can be named after, sound like, and stand in for a basic syllable.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Espo, Ranto, Counter-Ranto. My rant.

D: this is a refutation of Ranto.

The main point is as follows:

"he misses Esperanto's main feature : the fact that the language consists of invariable morphemes that combine freely."

D: The argument is that Ranto is a merely theoretical debate about grammar, and is not by somebody competent to speak the language.

Well, I have memorized the entire c. 850 word Vortlistoy from a teach-yourself book by Creswell published in 1992. I'll be teaching conversational Espo this summer in K-W. I just acquired a laser printer, magnetic sheets, and adhesive paper to make Magnetic Poetry of a sort to teach Espo. This approach should emphasize the main strength of Espo, as noted by Claude.

He already noted the main good point of Espo. Now the rest...
the process behind selecting bound morphemes to serve as word root.

The root is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family (root is then called base word), which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents. Content words in nearly all languages contain, and may consist only of, root morphemes. However,sometimes the term "root" is also used to describe the word minus its inflectional endings, but with its lexical endings in place. For example, chatters has the inflectional root or lemma chatter, but the lexical root chat. Inflectional roots are often called stems, and a root in the stricter sense may be thought of as a monomorphemic stem.

My rebuttal about Espo is this - if Esperanto grows from the root, the problem is that the root is rotten. The foundation is unsound. The statue has feet of clay.
And the whole edifice tumbles down, based on this flaw.

Initially, Espo claimed to only need c. 1000 bound-morphemes for a decent vocabulary. These days, I think the total is closer to 10,000. This, IMHO, is due to a sloppy and short-sighted approach to selecting word roots.
The # of times I was bewildered by lexical entries is considerable.
I understand that part of this is my bias as an English speaker. Part of it.

I will cite a meandering list from that book's vortlistoy.

- meet - renkonti (transitive) BUT konveni (intransitive)
- papero - an example of complete ambiguity of whether -er- in an infix of pap-o.
- mang'o (' for diacritic- another fail. I'll use underline in my lessons) - could the word for meal not be somehow related to nutraj'o for food?
- an attraction to idiomatic, awkward words and expressions.
-unexpected sounds shifts. state is sh-tato.
- excessive syllables. university is universitato
- several - plural - pluray - is still plural?
- sitacio - situation / place overlaps with loco - spot place
- necesasas - is necessary, but then with need besono- need? this was a perfect
chance to reduce the need to memorize vocabulary. fail.
- plenkreskulo- all grown up overlaps with adolto. yet more synonyms.
- retpilko is netball. futbalo is football. but ball is globo and foot is piedo. wtf?
- tute ne - not at all. the latinate word order means one is not sure if that following ne applies to whatever follows, or precedes it.
- why have flui- flow and likvaj'o - for liquid too? just nounify flui.
- ekipaj'o - equipment. a perfect example of unclear root/prefix/suffix boundaries.
- it could as easily be ek-ip- aj' -o. but isn't. no idea how to know which.
- overly vague, lacking nuance. fabriko- a factory. a made-noun. of course... not.
- centrifuga (spin), rondo (ring, circle), c'irkau' - massively redundant.
- also with ball et al- ripe for a clever vocabulary system
- rajdi vs raiti- only a voiced/voiceless minimal pair to tell them apart. french n
english will err opposite ways on this one.
-leg'o -law. a number of related words to this and medical could have benefit from
compounding. e.g. kaso.
- a totally random approach to transitive/intransitive in the root verb.
- alparoli- to address. did we need this, given the ways to say say? diras.
- on a related note, did we need 3 words for whisper, speak and shout?
- too short. imagine is imagi. could be image as easily. ditto instruo.
- embedding 'just about to' - j'us - would have made for verb brevity. the anglo
modal/auxiliary verb system was ripe for this. ditto daurig'i- continue
- eraro - not er-ar-o. but no way to tell.
- moorhen - in what word does this rate a 'top 850' core lexical item?
- c'efgvidanto, and at least 2 other words for leader including maejstro and one so vague i could not find it in the vocab list
- on a related note, profesio was ripe for that. there are at least 3 ways to say skilled unrelated to one another
- on that note, there are 3 words that overlap with the concept of serious including serioza and grava and solena
- hearty translates to cordial. of course.
- fremda - foreign - is redundant with exsterlando - abroad.
- funkcii- heckuva tongue-twister in a common word
- exemplaro - copy and multobligi to duplicate. um... same thing!!!
- kirurgo - surgeon - unrelated to obvious root word operacio- operation.
- bileto- ticket. there is no bilo. this is not -et- infix. no way to know...
- gross distortions of sounds based on slavish adherence to spelling (sometimes),
like jug'i - to judge.
- potenco - power BUT malpove - helplessly
- more redundant ways to say various biological/person than can be believed.
- balo- recall from football? nope it means DANCE.
- senerare - faultlessly- redundant with perfecte.
- meal, feast, banquet.... overkill.
- unrelated words for drinking glass - glaso - and okulvitroy - eyeglasses. why?
- talenta for talented but for skillful, another word

So I do find the Ranto criticism - and the retort - off the mark.
There are other, far more serious problems to dwell upon.

I will take the 300 most common or useful English words, and translate them for my basic vocabulary. It will not include macrame or moorhens.
It will not include massive numbers of synonyms.

Ultimately a few minor twists could have went far in salvaging the Espo design.
- a clear indication of infixes, either via reserved phonemes or letter sequences.
E.g. The root could be necessarily containing a CC or VV sequence. E.g. CCVVC- Thus any CV- prefix or -VC infix prior to the -V suffix would clearly be such.

I am glad to teach Espo as a historical oddity, in much the same way a few die-hards maintain operational Model T Ford antique cars.
But in terms of being a practical world language, well let's just say I appreciate certain unnamed national leaders and their reactions to the speakers of Espo...

Successful? With 10,000 fluent speakers in a century, that is 100 per year. The # is NOT increasing. It is on life support. Time is not on its side.

So at 100 speakers per year, a new language can claim to be matching its success.
Reaching 10,000 fluent speakers in 10 years would be a magnitude shift improvement.
Then the same argument Espo uses (and English uses better) for its adoption would be turned against it.
Not that I expect many Espo fans to budge.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

brain can move around language function

Now, a study from MIT neuroscientists shows that in individuals born blind, parts of the visual cortex are recruited for language processing. The finding suggests that the visual cortex can dramatically change its function -- from visual processing to language -- and it also appears to overturn the idea that language processing can only occur in highly specialized brain regions that are genetically programmed for language tasks.

Until now, no such evidence existed for flexibility in language processing. Previous studies of congenitally blind people had shown some activity in the left visual cortex of blind subjects during some verbal tasks, such as reading Braille, but no one had shown that this might indicate full-fledged language processing.

Aside - am encouraging my deaf friend 'C' to learn Morse Code too.
Think it'd be fun to tap out secret messages.

D: I learned it with this variation of NATO call signs.

Update - many thanks to the Espo virtual magnetic poetry site maker.
He's been incredibly helpful!
Does anybody have the audio tapes that came with an orange Espo reader from the 1970s? LOL darn thing has more reference to macrame...

I'm on track to be basically proficient mid-month March.
I hope to have an Espo chat group set up locally by May.

From there, thinking a language Congress and trying Toki Pona.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

stuttering, the tttalk of the town right now

Although my teachers were all supportive, I experienced moments of sheer panic. I had difficulty with consonants – w (what), c (cat), t (two) and d (do) – and particularly if they were in the first words I spoke.

D - maybe this consideration will come up during language design.

D - "The King's Speech" just won an Oscar or more.

The King's Speech also won the directing prize for Tom Hooper and the original-screenplay Oscar for David Seidler, a boyhood stutterer himself.

“I have a feeling my career's just peaked,” Firth said. “I'm afraid I have to warn you that I'm experiencing stirrings somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.”

D - and as if not topical enough, stuttering also is the subject of a popular song now too.

"Stuttering" is a song by Canadian singer–songwriter Fefe Dobson from her second (released) studio album, Joy. It was produced by J. R. Rotem, and co-written by Fefe Dobson, J. R. Rotem, and Claude Kelly. The song was released as a single on September 7, 2010 by 21 Music and Island Records and officially impacted mainstream radio on October 12, 2010.[1] The song has achieved success in Canada obtaining the position of #10 in its tenth week on the Canadian Hot 100. The single has received airplay on Radio Disney.

I start to believe you but somethin is wrong
You won't look in my eyes
Tell me Whats going on

Its you and me who danced the world
Thats what You said..Thats what you said
If You can't be honest with me,then am afraid this is the end

Hurry up Hurry up..
If you ever really care about me ..
Tell the truth,Give it up...
You sound guilty coz you are stuttering