Babies, #Lojban, #Esperanto and Code (Poems)
2010/09/15 § 1 Comment
Esperanto was constructed in order to help bring understanding between people who spoke different languages, in the hope that this could bring peace. Lojban was initially made with the idea of testing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis; that language, ordinary socially constructed natural languages, influenced thought.
Lojban was based on an earlier language designed for logic, Loglan. Loglan was designed to be machine readable, parse-able by machines like computers. As such it had very strict form and was very regular. (Read more on Lojban history.)
Lojban differed from Loglan in that, like many natural languages used by human speakers, Lojban included the point of view of a speaker. It’s a bit of a kludge, but it works okay. We often like to structure our sentence according to who said them. It’s a major way to give otherwise perfectly logical statements meaning. (See Peircean Logic and Biosemiotics.) Mathematical logic after all is just a set of clever tautologies.
The grammars of many European languages are structured around who said what, and to whom, whether these theys are socially inferior or superior (formal/informal). Or what gender speaker/spoken to/spoken of are, or even what gender non-sexed things are, as ascribed by sex based noun-class systems. Esperanto has this ‘gendering’ in vestigial form. In response, non-gendered versions like Ido have forked–> see Gender Reform in Esperanto).
I’d learn Lojban ahead of the others, and have started in a small way, except is it really that far from learning Klingon?
I’ve been learning Polish over the last year or two and I just can’t stand the crap in the natural languages, the irregularities, the exceptions, and the stupid bits like gender. Polish, like some other Slavic languages even conjugate the past tense of verbs according to the gender. Considering that the subjunctive (could be, might be) is based on these past tense forms it just a massive #fail for me as an adult. Ethnicity, identity is based on this crap? We’re proud of it because we are all idiots together.
Now I don’t want any language to disappear, go extinct, but really? Who gives a flying what gender I am when I say I might go to town tomorrow?
There’s an argument that languages have the grammar they do because babies learn languages and they like regularity but do not tend to judge the sense of that regularity, nor notice that all those exceptions make the regularity a fractal type of thing. Babies just don’t care what they learn. No discrimination, no style control.
So I am in favour of constructed languages, so long as they are not stupid. Tolkien’s Elvish and Klingon are stupid. Fun for a little while but I wish they would go away.
French is a curated language, it’s completely stupid, because political forces are trying to maintain a natural language. Polish is similar to French but it’s not curated so much as fossilized by historical forces.
Yes, English is stupid too, all natural languages are a pain to learn as an adult because of all the irregularities that babies just don’t care about.
Yes, I am blaming babies for the mess. (Can’t find reference as yet).
But what to do?
Lojban is a good start, but I feel like forking it, by starting with the point of view of the speaker, not kludging it on to a substrate of “mathematical logic” (as Peirce would call it).
The inteprenant focus, yeah, and I like those natural languages that structure some of their grammar not according to gender/noun-classes (what a waste of mental processing power!) but on how the speaker acquired the information, i.e. structuring according to the quality of the information, the meta-information.
The meaning not the logic, but logic ahead of irregular crap.
A well structured grammar, IMHO, would be based on the point of view of the point of view.
Babies just don’t care about that.
Crossposted at spacecollective.org