me lu ju'i lobypli li'u 11 moi
- 1 News
- 1.1 Finances
- 1.2 Subscription Accounts as of 31 March 1990
- 1.3 Master Card/Visa Now Accepted
- 1.4 1990 Plans set by la lojbangirz. Board
- 1.5 1990 Priorities
- 1.6 Research and Development
- 1.7 Growth and Publicity
- 1.8 Education
- 1.9 International News
- 1.10 Products and Prices
- 1.11 News (with Comments) About the Institute
- 2 Feature Topic: Esperanto and Lojban
- 3 An Introductory College Course in Semiotics Using Lojban
- 4 Bibliography on Language and Thought
- 5 Lojban and Stream of Consciousness Writing
- 6 le lojbo se ciska
- 7 Translations of le lojbo se ciska
- 8 Letters, Comments, and Responses
Copyright, 1990, 1991, by the Logical Language Group, Inc. 2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031-1303 USA Phone (703) 385-0273 [email protected]
All rights reserved. Permission to copy granted subject to your verification that this is the latest version of this document, that your distribution be for the promotion of Lojban, that there is no charge forthe product, and that this copyright notice is included intact in the copy.
Number 11 - March 1990 Copyright 1990, The Logical Language Group, Inc. 2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031 USA (703)385-0273
Ju'i Lobypli (JL) is the quarterly journal of The Logical Language Group, Inc., known in these pages as lalojbangirz. la lojbangirz. is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of completing and spreading the logicalhuman language "Lojban". la lojbangirz. is a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Your donations (not contributions to your voluntary balance) are tax-deductible on U.S. and most state income taxes. Donors are notified at the end of each year of your total deductible donations. We note for all potential donors that our bylaws require us to spend no more than 30% of our receipts on administrative expenses, and that you are welcome to make you gifts conditional upon our meeting this requirement. See news below regarding contributions and donations via credit card, or via checks drawn on non-US banks.
Press run for this issue of Ju'i Lobypli: 350. We now have over 650 people on our active mailing list.
Your Mailing Label
Your mailing label reports your current mailing status, and your current voluntary balance including this issue. Please notify us if you wish to be in a different mailing code category. Balances reflect contributions received thru 4 April 1990. Mailing codes (and approximate annual balance needs) are defined as follows:
Level B - Product Announcements Only Level R - Review Copy for Publications
Level 0 - le lojbo karni only - $5 balance requested
Level 1 - le lojbo karni and Ju'i Lobypli - $15 balance requested
Level 2 - Level 1 materials and baselined/final products - $20 balance requested
Level 3 - Level 2 materials and lesson materials as developed - $50 balance or more
Contents of This Issue
This issue contains a complete news section. As noted below, those of you receiving Ju'i Lobypli will no longer be receiving le lojbo karni, since the contents will be redundant. Also below is a series of articles relating in some way to the value of Lojban. Athelstan and Bob compare Lojban and Esperanto. Robert Gorsch reports on his Semiotics courseat St. Mary's College in California, the first academic course significantly incorporating Lojban into its curriculum.His bibliography, and Ralph Dumain's annotated bibliography on language and thought, are included. There is also anarticle by David Morrow on using Lojban in writing fiction, Lojban text is by Michael Helsem, including the first samples of original Lojban poetry, and a variety of letters and responses. ko xamgu lifri
Table of Contents News --3 Finances, 1989 Financial Report, Master Card/Visa Now Accepted--3 1990 Plans set by la lojbangirz. Board - Textbook, Dictionary, LogFest, Logo, Grants --5 1990 Priorities --6 Research and Development - Grammar, Parser Status, pc to Visit DC, Transformational Grammar --6 Growth and Publicity - Continued Growth, International Publicity, Computer Networks --9 Education - New Classes Starting --10 International News --10 Products and Prices - New Lojban Tape, Hypercard Mac LogFlash, lujvo-Making Program, Papers Offered, 3 1/4" Diskettes, Book Plans, LogFlash Porting --11 News (with Comments) About the Institute --15 Esperanto and Lojban - How many rules are enough? by Athelstan--16 On Comparing Esperanto and Lojban, by Bob LeChevalier --20 An Introductory College Course in Semiotics Using Lojban, by Robert Gorsch --25 Questions from the Class, compiled by Dr. Gorsch, with responses by Bob LeChevalier --26 Course Outline and Bibliography --33 Bibliography on Language and Thought, by Ralph Dumain --36 Lojban and Stream of Consciousness Writing, by David C. Morrow--39 le lojbo se ciska, all by Michael Helsem --40 Self-Description, haiku, 3 limericks, and Free Verse --41 Translations of le lojbo se ciska --45 Letters, Comments, and Responses: from Arthur Brown, jyjym., Eric Williams --56 Enclosures - Reprints from The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner, Reference Outline of Lojban Grammar, Some Proposed Logos
Computer Net Information
I want to remind people that, if you have access to Usenet/UUCP/Internet, you can send messages and text files(including things for JL publication) to Bob at:
You can join the Lojban news-group by sending your mailing address to:
and traffic to the news-group can be sent to:
Please keep us informed if your network mailing address changes.
Compuserve subscribers can also participate. Precede any of the above addresses with INTERNET: and use your normal Compuserve mail facility (its possible that you can send only to addresses in the '@' format). Usenet/Internet people can send to Compuserve addresses by changing the comma in the Compuserve address to a period:
Whether you wish to participate in the news-group or not, it is useful for us to know your Compuserve address. Forexample, any decision for la lojbangirz. to obtain a Compuserve account will be based on a need to serve a goodly numberof you that want to exchange information.
If you have not received JL10 (and expected it), please let us know. JL10 and LK11 were mailed in mid-December,but there are still some people known not to have received it. If you are one, we'll resend the issue. If you're not sure, JL10 contained discussions of Lojban poetry and a lot of Lojban text, including Athelstan's translation of Saki's The Open Window. We apologize to those of you who did not hear from us for a long while due to the very slow mail (and our other, more normal, delays).
Our finances suffered a significant blow due to the serious delays in US Postal delivery of JL10. We paid for the issue in December, but have not received income to cover the cost until this month. Even now, we have money in the bank primarily because of Jeff Prothero, and Nora and me, each maintaining balances over $1000, thus in effect supporting la lojbangirz. via interest-free loans. I don't like this situation, partly because Nora and I don't have the money to spare. But I also dislike the conflict of interest of being the principal financial source at the same time that I'm trying to serve your interests as President of la lojbangirz.
Some good decisions have resulted from our financial pain, though. We have now set up a credit account with our printer, who is our largest expense. And we have advanced the publication date for a Lojban textbook and dictionary(you'll see why this helps our finances in a little bit).
The la lojbangirz. Board has decided to add an incentive for those who are paying for materials and maintaining a positive balance, as well as for those who have contributed to the textbook development by studying the language now.Thus, starting 1 April, if your account balance is positive, we will be giving a 20% discount on orders for software,the cassette tape (see below), and our books when they are published, provided that either you prepay your order (or have enough in your balance to cover the order) or you are an active level 3 subscriber.
Are you contributing what you feel the Lojban materials are worth to you? Please help!
1989 Financial Report The Logical Language Group, Inc. (Numbers rounded to nearest $) Income Contributions $7988 Donations $7633 Other $50 ________ Net Income $15671 Expenses Printing and Publications $5644 Non-administrative Postage $1904 Office Supplies $494 LogFest 89 $394 Advertising/Publicity/Noreascon III$1603 Telephone $1240 Other $192 Administrative Expenses $519 Legal Expenses $4100 ________ Total Admin. & Legal $4619 29% of expenses _______ Net Expenses $16090 Net Loss (418.34)
1988 Summary (Incorporated + Unincorporated) Income $6776.72 Expenses $8605.97 including Administrative Expenses: $452.42 or 7% of income Net Loss ($1829.25) la lojbangirz. Finances as of 1 January 1990 Assets Liabilities Cash in bank account $666.02 Subscriber Refundable Balances ($2673.06) Undeposited checks $189.70 Estimated Value of Inventory$1260.30 ________ __________ Net Assets $2116.02 Net Liabilities ($2673.06) Estimated Net Worth ($557.04)
Subscription Accounts as of 31 March 1990
The mailing list of The Logical Language Group, Inc. consisted of 811 names. Of these, 644 were currently active (level0 or above); the rest were either deleted by request, or because mailings were returned with no forwarding address, orare those that have asked to only receive product announcements when the textbook is ready. Known readership is about50 more than this, due to multiple readers sharing single subscriptions.
Payment rates are highly correlated with level. 40-50% of those at level 1 or above maintain a positive balance. Thisvaries by 10-20% each mailing due to those whose balances drop below 0 and who then repay us. Only 3% of the level 0recipients have positive balances.
As of 31 March, there were 95 subscribers at level 3, 161 at level 2, 48 at level 1, 327 at level 0, 11 press reviewers,and 32 at level B for a total of 676.
Sales or distributions of key products as of 1 January 1990:
gismu lists 526 LogFlash/Mac LojFlash 122 flash cards 23 Lessons beyond Lesson 1 88
54 persons have donated a total of $12935.78 since we started through 1 January 1990. During 1989, Bob & Nora donated $3203.02; Jeff Prothero donated $2245.68; others donated a net of $2543.45. $4099.68 of Bob, Nora, and Jeff's donations were applied to legal bills.
128 persons have net positive voluntary balances
478 persons have net negative voluntary balances. This is the principal cause of our worsening financial position.
Master Card/Visa Now Accepted
We have arranged to be able to accept contributions to voluntary balances and donations on your Master Card orVisa, effective immediately. This is an experimental program; we'll see how much it is used. We have to pay a fee of6% on each transaction, and will be passing that fee on to your balance. We also have to pay a minimum fee of $15.00per month for the service, even if there are no transactions; thus, our continuing this service is dependent on whetheryou use it.
As with most mail-order charge systems, we need your card number and type, expiration date, name as it shown on thecard, and signature, to process your charge. We can accept telephone orders on your credit card if you follow it upwith a signed authorization. We have to be sure to follow the rules carefully, especially at first, because small mailorder firms are considered high risk for fraud, and are carefully watched.
We hope that providing this service makes it easier for some of you to contribute to your balances and/or to donate support to la lojbangirz.
1990 Plans set by la lojbangirz. Board
The la lojbangirz. Board had its first meeting since LogFest to approve the above financial report, and to set the priorities for our activities during 1990. We were aided significantly by the responses to the questionnaire sent out with LK11 and JL10 (we're still interested in getting these responses if you haven't yet sent yours in).
The following paragraphs discuss the major priorities that were discussed. The list of priorities is summarized at the end of the discussion.
Textbook - Our numbers of active students (level 3) has topped 100, and at the current rate, will exceed 200 this year even with no textbook. Given that the current draft textbook lessons are already 300 pages long, printing costs for the year for draft lessons alone could exceed $2000. I've gotten an estimate that would allow us to publish a textbook for probably around $3000-4000 for 1000 copies. Mailing books is also cheaper than mailing individual lessons.
Adding in postage and overhead, we will probably be charging a base price of $12-$15, with the discount mentioned above for those with positive balances; this will exceed our costs enough to help pay for our other activities. Yet it is much cheaper than the approximately $23 we have to now charge for draft lessons - and we make no money on these. We think we can break even with about 250 paid textbook sales. Can we sell that many books? That's up to all of you.
Most important, your questionnaire responses indicate that when we publish a textbook, many more of you will then start learning the language.
Dictionary - Lest anyone think that they have no influence over the decision-making process in la lojbangirz., your questionnaire responses have caused a major change in our plans (alas, we've heard from less than 30 of you, only half of last years' response - but we'll take what ever feedback we get). Whereas only a few months ago, we planned not to start producing a dictionary until we had a significant body of users of the language. Linguists believe that a dictionary is supposed to describe a language as it is used, not prescribe 'how it's supposed to be'. Many of you are apparently unconvinced of this argument, and your questionnaires indicated that you wanted the textbook AND the dictionary done prior to learning the language.
I've talked to several of you who so responded. Those placing a high priority on a dictionary apparently are not waiting for a "Webster's Unabridged"; rather, you want an easy to use word-list, more complete in its definitions than our current gismu lists, and a feeling that the language is sufficiently stable that we have the confidence to publish a book instead of Xeroxed handouts. You want enough examples therein so that you can see how words are made, how place structures are determined, etc. I think we can do this much.
We had already planned to republish the gismu list later this year with better place structure definitions. We also are working hard on a good cmavo definition list, as we approach our initial baseline of the grammar. When I totalled the expected page count for gismu lists, cmavo lists, machine grammar definition, and explanatory materials on how to use these, the result was enough to compile the entire set of reference data into a book. It should take relatively little extra work to organize this book as a reference dictionary, so that is what we plan to do. The result should be available late this year.
The dictionary, like the textbook, will be a limited first edition. We expect it to have a short life, perhaps 1-2 years, before being republished in a significantly expanded version (the first edition won't be obsolete then, but later editions will presumably be much expanded and perhaps better presented, as we learn from the first attempt). As with the textbook, we will be pushing for advance orders, due to our finances.
LogFest - LogFest 90 is scheduled for the third weekend in June this year; including the Friday and Monday for some activities. I've added air conditioning to our main meeting rooms so that the expected larger-than-ever crowd can be comfortable.
The themes for the meeting will be learning the language and getting involved. I hope to have review draft copies of the textbook by then for people to examine. We will be discussing how each of you can study Lojban on your own or with others, and Athelstan will show how easy it is to give an introductory presentation on the language.
We will have several short sessions where people can join us in Lojban conversation, or just listen in to learn that the language CAN be spoken.
Most important, we intend to discuss and possibly approve the trial grammar baseline, enabling the textbook to be published and verifying that the language development truly is completed.
I hope many of you will be able to attend. As in previous years, we have sleeping room for at least a dozen people inside, and will set up tents outside as necessary (bring sleeping bags if possible). If you bring your family, they can either get involved, or go sightseeing in Washington DC. We are 2 blocks from the Metro, which runs straight into all of the attraction of the capital.
You can call me for details at 703-385-0273. Next issue will include a map on how to get here, and whatever final plans have been made by then. Much of what goes on at a Logfest is determined by the interests of the people who are there. Local people come for part of the weekend, or even drop in for a few hours. We have moved the annual business meeting of la lojbangirz. to Sunday morning, when relatively few people are around, after finding that a slow-moving meeting last year disrupted the lively excitement of Logfest.
There is no charge to attend LogFest, but we are asking people attending to contribute perhaps $20 for the weekend, or $10 a day, to help defray food costs and other expenses. (We'll be happy to accept more - our expenses for Logfest run much higher than this. Contributions in excess of $20 will be considered donations.)
Logo - As part of our effort to generate publicity, several people have suggested that we adopt a logo for la lojbangirz. We've had suggestions from several people, and especially from Jamie Bechtel and Kit Archer. We are running the sketches thus far submitted for your comments, and asking you to contribute your own ideas (or even draw them up if you can - but others can do the drawing if you have more creativity than artistic talent).
We will put the question of a logo to the LogFest attendees
Grants - Now that we have our non-profit status, we will be starting to investigate possible grant opportunities. Athelstan and I have identified several possible sources or small amounts of support, and we want to find out how much work is involved in obtaining such grants before committing our limited people and money resources towards pursuing them.
We will be concentrating on grants that will help us improve our teaching materials, translate them into foreign languages and promote the involvement of non-U.S. Lojbanists to improve our cultural balance. We will also try to obtain grants for developing some of the ideas we've had for using Lojban in language education, and in such classes as Robert Gorsch describes below. Finally, we will seek support for developing some of the linguistics research efforts using the language that were the original goal for the Loglan Project.
We will probably not seek major grants such as from the National Science Foundation at this point. We believe that we need to establish credibility as an academic effort, attract researchers who know how to get such grants, and possibly affiliate with another organization to ensure accountability. We also need to show that we can work within the academic peer review system, and of course, prove that we can manage grant money wisely. I believe that Jim Brown failed to get grants for his Loglan work after he left the University of Florida primarily because he never established this kind of outside accountability. We should do much better - we've had a couple of years of practice now in demonstrating that we are accountable to you, our supporters.
The Board adopted the following priorities as its policy for day-to-day business activities (i.e. spending money and receiving 'official' support). We ask that people work to support these goals. The Board recognizes, of course, that we are a volunteer-based organization and everyone should be free to work with or on the language in the way that he or she chooses:
- Maintenance of a stable business posture, fulfilling legal requirements (including lawsuit-related), filling orders, etc.
- Producing timely newsletters of comparable quality to current practice.
- Responding to correspondents, especially submittals of Lojban text, in such a degree as to support continued self- learning. Supporting classes started by others, and Athelstan's DC-area class.
- Preparing and publishing a 1st edition textbook covering about half the language (the portion most used in writing and conversation), and supporting this textbook with a cassette tape.
- Preparing and publishing a 1st edition reference dictionary including revised, updated, and preliminary baselines of grammar, cmavo, gismu place structures, rafsi, synopsis, and additional useful materials as possible.
- Preliminary research in grantsmanship leading to later decisions whether to actually seek grants.
- Preparing updated and new software and other educational materials unrelated to book publishing above, including the Lojban parser.
- Additional translation efforts by key people (particularly Board members).
Research and Development
The primary R&D activities in the last couple of months have been attempting to resolve two of the four open grammar issues discussed in the last issue: negation and attitudinal indicators.
A proposal on the latter is out for review at this writing. If you are level 3 or otherwise knowledgeable of the attitudinal issue, and want to participate in the review, let me know and I'll send a copy. The final proposal (incorporating any comments by then) will be printed in JL12, and any decision will be approved at LogFest.
I have much of my time in the last few months working on a thorough treatment of negation which incorporates hours of discussion among Nora, Athelstan, pc, and me. The discussion is being written somewhat in the style of the textbook lessons, with dozens of examples, and also includes explanation of logical connectives. I hope to involve as many people as possible in reviewing the result, which I hope will appear in JL12. The entirety may be too long, so I may have to abridge it or send it separately to level 3 people only - it depends on our finances, and your expressions of interest in the topic.
Negation is likely to be the last 'big' language issue that can be reasonably understood without knowing the language; the issues to be resolved are semantic, and thus not much dependent on Lojban's grammar and word lists. Your ability to contribute will depend more on your understanding of how negation works in natural language than on how Lojban works; the object is to make sure that we have the means to cover everything involved in negation in a logically consistent manner. The grammar of negation in Lojban is quite simple, and easily adapted once we are sure that we understand the problem. We may be trying to get linguists not otherwise involved in the language to review our results for correctness and completeness.
The other two big issues are tense grammar and MEX. I suspect that our tense system will be among the hardest things to teach in its entirety to new people, since so few people realize how much hidden tense structure there is in natural languages - all made open and optional in Lojban. pc, as an expert in tense logic, will be the primary reviewer of the proposal. Others will have trouble getting involved in this one; the proposal will not be written up until the textbook lessons are written, although its essence will be evident in the annotated sections of the machine grammar dealing with tense.
The MEX issue is one mostly of philosophy - whether to try to make MEX comprehensive, or to make it easy to use. Until we have people skilled enough in the language to try using MEX, we won't really be able to test our design. We may have to omit the esoteric parts of MEX from the 5-year grammar baseline, or else to simply recognize that MEX grammar is likely to change after that point. (I favor the former - the need for a baseline is to ensure that there is a stable language for people to learn. If we know in advance that an area will be significantly revised, the stability is illusionary.) A possibility to be considered is that we put two competing MEX grammars into the language and to see which survives.
Other than writing up the proposals, the major work to be done is reflecting the changes in cmavo lists and in the machine grammar. The attitudinal proposal affects the cmavo list a lot, with no grammar changes. The negation change is primarily semantic, with minimal impact on either grammar or cmavo list. The tense proposal is a regularizing of the already radical approach that I took in my redesign two years ago; it has been taught conceptually to the DC-area class, and what remains (other than pc's verification) is to make sure that the machine grammar completely reflects the concept.
The MEX decision will affect very little or quite a lot. If the status quo is deemed acceptable, there will be few changes. If there is a strong move towards an easier-to- use MEX, then the grammar will have to be substantially rewritten in this area.
In short, things are moving along well towards our intended June decision point.
Jeff Taylor hasn't had a lot of time to spare for the parser, and has put his emphasis on the cmavo list instead. This isn't a problem, because most of what remains to be done is dependent on the decisions to be made in the four open areas discussed above. The parser worked fine on the text samples in JL10; what remains is to incorporate the results of the pending design changes - primarily the final tense design which is substantially embedded in the hand-coded lexer. We've reduced the priority of the parser to make sure that we get the textbook and dictionary done this year.
An alternative possibility for the parser has recently shown up. Doug Landauer, who along with Sheldon Linker did much of the germinal Loglan machine grammar work in the 70s has volunteered to investigate and to possibly write a parser generator especially tailored for Lojban grammar work. Key aspects - for those who know parser terminology - are that the new generator, which would replace our YACC- based program, will be able to look-ahead more than 1 'token' - the exact number of look-aheads hasn't yet been decided. We would also try to have the generator save tables that allow for better processing of elidable terminators.
It isn't clear what such a parser tool would mean to Lojban. It could allow us to make significant simplifications in the grammar, such as perhaps re- coalescing the variety of logical connectives into a smaller and easier to learn set. It would certainly allow much of the hand-coded lexer routine in the parser to be replaced by table-driven rules in the automatically- generated portion of the parser, eliminating several of the invisible 'machine lexemes' that allow the parser to emulate human grammar analysis.
We'll report next issue on whether Doug's researches of the topic have led anywhere.
pc to Visit DC
Just about the time this newsletter is mailed, pc will be visiting Bob and Nora in the DC area for a long weekend. Although he's coming for other reasons, pc has budgeted a significant amount of time for us to work together on resolving the open grammar issues. Since pc is probably the most expert of all in the combination of logic, linguistics, old Loglan design and current Lojban implementation, his review and agreement will set the tone for the decision-making to take place in June.
In addition to going over the 4 biggies, we will also be discussing place structures of gismu, textbook plans, and the style to be used in producing the dictionary. We'll probably slip in a little Lojban conversation, too, although pc has just recently resumed studying the vocabulary after lapsing for several months.
It is a common myth among linguists that the Loglan/Lojban project ignores and/or runs counter to the various transformational grammar theories developed by Noam Chomsky. Transformational grammar theory has dominated the field of linguistics, especially in the U.S., since shortly after Jim Brown started the Loglan project. Jim Brown lends credence to these myths by attacking some of Chomsky's ideas in the new edition of Loglan 1.
Contrary to this myth, the Lojban redevelopment team has tried to bring ideas in from a variety of linguistic sources, while trying to make sure the language meets whatever criteria make a natural language 'natural' and learnable.
Briefly, transformational grammar (tg) theory says that there is an underlying structure to all natural languages (called 'deep structure') which is often well-hidden from our conscious thought. The argument for deep structure is based on the fact that children learn language so quickly and easily, and before they understand anything about grammar, that some amount of 'innate grammar' must be genetically coded. What we perceive as the widely varying grammars of everyday natural language are 'surface structures' based on transformations from this innate 'deep grammar'. These transformations are then what is actually learned when we learn language. From this theory, if Lojban is truly 'different' from natural languages in some basic way such that tg theory does not apply, then it cannot be a natural language. Arguing in the reverse direction, if such a 'deep structure' of Lojban can be found, and the language indeed turns out to be speakable by, and teachable to young children, then the deep structure of Lojban must be tied to that of the natural languages. This has implications for the validity of a Sapir-Whorf test, while allowing Lojban to serve as a test bed for tg theory developments. Meanwhile, the extreme simplicity of Lojban's grammar means that its consistency with tg theory may say something basic about the deep structure of natural language.
Esperanto and most other artificial languages have generally been of no interest to tg linguists, since their grammars usually are merely simplifications of standard European language grammars that provide no useful basis for research.
pc did a simple transformational study of old Loglan back in the 1970's and found nothing unusual. Now, Lojbanist Greg Higley has been more thoroughly researching the applicability of tg theory to Lojban using the current language definition.
Greg's results are still preliminary, but he has found that the basic Lojban sentence structure is indeed consistent with tg theory. Furthermore, he says, in a recent letter to Bob, that the surface structure of Lojban is nearly transparent: "It is very rare for a language to have the ability to display its deep structure while maintaining grammaticalness, especially in complex sentences, but Lojban does this admirably."
Greg is trying to ensure that his research lives up to academic standards, and that his results will be publishable. If so, Lojban may significantly gain in credibility within the community of linguists, and the goal of using Lojban as a vehicle for experimental linguistics will be greatly forwarded.
We're trying to identify within our community, people with sufficient training in tg theory to assist in reviewing Greg's results, to the extent that he desires our assistance. Identify such people will also be important to us in the event that we decide to seek research support based on Greg's efforts. Let Bob know if you want to participate in reviewing Greg's work.
(A good understanding of Lojban grammar and/or principles of transformational grammars will probably be vital - Greg's work so far makes very technical statements about Lojban grammar which would be hard to evaluate without such knowledge. Indeed, the sophistication of Greg's work is extremely heartening; he has demonstrated a sophisticated and thus far error-free understanding of Lojban grammar, yet is totally self-taught from the draft textbook lessons and other materials. Readers may recall that Greg skillfully found a subtle but important error in the textbook lessons, as he reported in JL10).
This is an exciting prospect for Lojban, one which heightens our sense of contributing to our understanding of language. We'll try to have more on Greg's work in one of the next two issues of JL.
Growth and Publicity
Our growth in the last few months has been phenomenal, especially since it is almost entirely due to word-of-mouth advertising. We've added about 50 people since the start of the year, with new contacts averaging more than 1 every 2 days.
Some of these new people have joined us due to several of you giving talks to groups about Lojban, and some are due to distributions of brochures at conventions. I want to expressly thank all of you who are serving as emissaries of Lojban in this way. The list is getting too long to name every convention or talk we have collectively given; you've ensured a Lojbanic presence at some half-dozen science fiction conventions in the last 3 months that I know of, and probably as many that I don't know about. Keep it up!
We've had good response following an October ad in the Mensa national bulletin donated by a Lojbanist, which has led to a follow-up article in the Mensa SIG publication 'Science Quest'. We got a scattering of responses from around the country following Don Oldenburg's newspaper article (reprint enclosed with this issue), and the follow- up Copley News Service release, and radio interviews with various stations in the US, Canada, and United Kingdom.
The various press releases led to a contact with reporter Dominique Schroder of the French news agency ASP (their equivalent of the AP). After a pleasant several hours of interview and discussion, her story was released in several languages. It is known to have been printed (in French) in the Quebec Soleil during February. Lojbanist Andre Bergeron saw the article, contacted the paper, and convinced them to print our address a few days later, and we've had 5 new responses (4 of them in French, leading us to test our network for multi-language correspondence support).
We have no reports of other publications of Dominique's story, mostly because it did not include our address, and because it would have appeared primarily in publications serving locales where we don't have a lot of existing people who would have noticed and reported it. Some of these people will eventually find us by contacting ASP, but we mostly gained international name recognition.
Our most significant recent growth has been through the computer networks. With the assistance of Lojbanist Eric Raymond, we have an international news forum on the Inter- net/Usenet/uucp circuit, which also can tie in to Compuserve (see page 2 for instructions on how to join this group or to send messages to me). The network presence has attracted the attention of a couple of dozen new people, and more importantly has allowed us to respond quickly to people's questions. (Now all I need is a connection to the net here in DC, so I don't have to spend money on long distance bills to Eric's computer near Philadelphia.)
We've also been able to respond to inquiries on the Usenet linguistics newsgroup 'sci.lang' about Loglan and Lojban. We have even profited from Jim Brown's advertising efforts, as people who have bought Jim's book inquire on the net looking for others working with the language; almost invariably, people who find out that there are two groups and that our group is larger, more organized, and supports a public domain version of the language, end up choosing to study Lojban.
The same effect has occurred on Compuserve, where a copy of our brochure was placed in the Foreign Language Education forum. This has brought us several new people, including some who have started using the AMRAD BBS to contact us.
We've gained no new people as a result, yet, but Mark Manning published an article reviewing Lojban in his science fiction 'fanzine' Tand #2, last fall. Since the article included several misunderstandings, Mark agreed to print a rebuttal written by Athelstan and Bob, which just appeared in Tand #3 a couple of weeks ago. There is the possibility of continuing dialog in the magazine, which relies on letters of comment on previous issues for much of its content.
A high percentage of new respondents have been moving quickly from level 0 to levels 1-3, and most of them are paying for their materials. The count of level 3's has been growing at 10% per month.
My only complaint is that filling orders takes a lot of time away from other Lojban activities, especially because I personalize the response to many of the people I send to with information about other Lojbanists nearby, etc. HEAR THIS! I want to continue to have THIS complaint!
We've believed that Lojban has a major potential to contribute to various aspects of education. Finally, this has been proven. Dr. Robert Gorsch of St. Mary's College in California used Lojban as a major component of an intensive course in Semiotics taught during the intersession in January. The course proved popular and quite successful; a surprising number of these very bright students were not aware of Lojban OR Esperanto, or the various other attempts to invent a language throughout history. The class will be expanded to a full semester course for next school year.
The course is described in detail by Dr. Gorsch below, including an outline and bibliography for others who are interested in Lojban and Semiotics (which Gorsch says has been heavily influenced by the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis), and for others who would like to develop similar courses.
Otherwise, education has been a bit of a disappointment these past couple of months. After months of promises from the organizers, the New York and Boston classes are no closer to starting than last fall, when we gave talks en- route home from Worldcon. In Boston, things have been complicated by the fact that both of our organizers are unemployed and job hunting in a bad labor market; one has a new baby and no telephone making his life even more complicated; there is some evidence that things will eventually come together there. Boston people at least have a place to meet, since everyone seems to find MIT a good location.
I can't say what is going on in New York. The principal hang-up seems to be difficulty in finding a place that everyone is willing to travel to, and a day to meet. I've suggested that they divide into multiple groups which study on their own and get together to interchange on a less frequent basis, or by telephone. The same suggestion might be appropriate for San Francisco and Los Angeles metro areas, which also have large, geographically disperse groups of Lojbanists.
Things are going much better in the self-study arena. The best evidence of this is the collection of material written by self-taught Lojbanist Michael Helsem. I'm also including with his writings a sample of the feedback that we gave him, thus showing that we support those of you who try to learn Lojban on your own, and also that WE WANT YOU TO SEND YOUR ATTEMPTS AT USING THE LANGUAGE TO US, EVEN IF YOU DON'T THINK THEY ARE VERY GOOD! Because Michael did so, his current Lojban is much improved. Moreover, WE learned a lot from his attempts, which will in turn improve the textbook when it comes out.
New Classes Starting
While New York and Boston haven't yet jelled, we've demonstrated further viability as a language here in DC and in Blacksburg VA, where new classes are starting and are being taught by graduates of the last set of classes. This is the best sign that our teaching was successful, that those who have studied the language have enough confidence to feel that they can lead a new group up to their skill level in Lojban.
Athelstan is teaching a new DC-area class, under the auspices of the University of Maryland 'Free University' Program. This program gives the class an on-campus meeting point, coincidentally in the foreign language education building. Unlike the first class, this class is only 8 weeks long with one 2-hour session per week. The students are not expected to master the vocabulary, and only the basics of the grammar will be covered. The lowered expectation takes the pressure off both students and instructor. The class will probably be followed up with an advanced class after people have learned more of the vo- cabulary. Eight students showed up for the first meeting, with a couple of additional people who didn't show up indicating that they want to join in late.
The 2nd Blacksburg class will be taught by Karen Stein starting in April, after people are recruited at a local science fiction convention and the VA Tech campus. John Hodges, who taught the first class, is struggling under a full class load and a full-time job, but will be advising Karen as needed.
Much of the international news has been covered under 'Growth and Publicity' above. We have gained significant numbers in Canada through the ASP story and other contacts, such that there could potentially be classes or group studies organized in Vancouver, Toronto, and Quebec.
The ASP story is good news to Lojbanist John Negus, in Bessas, France. John is serving as our 'French correspondent', agreeing to serve as a local point of contact for any new French Lojbanists. John has also been making his own attempts to recruit new people, and has written a one-page description of Lojban emphasizing its international language aspects for his own distribution.
The French language version of the brochure (translated by Andre Bergeron) has now been entered onto computer, just in time to receive an 'acid test' by being distributed to the several French-speaking respondents to the ASP article. It will receive one more review pass before being printed up in bulk.
The Italian language brochure (translated by Silvia Romanelli), is being typed up. After Silvia reviews it, we will be printing bulk copies of it as well. Silvia has plans to actively recruit people in the Italian city of Asti, near her home.
Board member Tommy Whitlock recently visited Germany on a personal trip. We don't yet have a German brochure, and the trip occurred during a university break period, but some 50 English brochures were distributed, and Tommy made contact with a couple of Lojbanists who are linguistics students in Germany.
Athelstan will be attending the 1990 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Amsterdam, which takes place the last week of August. He will arrive prepared to give several talks at the convention and to distribute brochures in the 3 languages completed (and possibly German too, if we can find a translator who will get it done by then). (Athelstan is also brushing up on 6 languages at once besides Lojban, so that he can deal with people in their own language - a truly heroic endeavor!)
Athelstan will be spending about 4-6 weeks following Worldcon travelling around Europe by Eurorail, and eventually to Israel in October. He will be visiting 'friends', a label which includes every Lojbanist on the Continent that he can work into his itinerary. He specifically plans to make it to John Negus in France and Silvia Romanelli in Italy, and possibly to others in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Again, he will be giving talks on Lojban and mini-lessons everywhere he goes. Lojbanists who can organize sessions for him to give talks at will gain precedence on his itinerary.
If you are a European Lojbanist who wants Athelstan to stop through for a visit, please let us know as soon as possible. We'll provide more details on his plans next issue.
We have finally arranged with an international service firm, Deak International, to process currency exchanges for us with a corporate account.
This means that we can now accept checks drawn in your country's currency as payment to contribute to your voluntary balance, or to donate to the project. The currency must be convertible to US dollars, and will be exchanged at the official rate. The service is MUCH cheaper than what it would cost you otherwise to send us a check. We pay a service charge of US$3.50 for each check (which we will charge against your voluntary balance since we charge people what it costs us, so please allow for it). Above all, PLEASE make sure that you keep any such check covered until it clears, which might take a few weeks - we are charged US$50.00 if Deak cannot collect on the check.
We also now can accept contributions and donations via Master Card and Visa credit cards, as described above under 'Finance'. We originally sought this service for our international customers as an alternative to sending US currency through the postal system, and hope that it is useful to you.
Products and Prices
Our emphasis these last few month has been on polishing up design features of the language, working towards the grammar baseline, rather than developing new products, but we do have a few, primarily due to the efforts of others among you who have helped me out. These include two computer programs, a cassette tape, and several technical papers of a length or of a more limited interest group such that we can't justify printing them in a JL issue.
New Lojban Tape
We have finally made the long-promised cassette tape designed to accompany the first few lessons of the textbook. The tape was made on very short notice, since Robert Gorsch wanted to use it in his class described below (although a U.S. mail foul-up meant that it didn't get to him in time).
Bob, Nora, Athelstan, Tommy Whitlock, Sylvia Rutiser, and new Lojbanist David Young participated in the various pronunciation exercises and dialogues on the tape. The recording includes samples from the first three textbook lessons.
We are announcing availability of this tape under rather restricted conditions. Because of our strained finances and the impending textbook rewrite, we cannot afford to mass produce the tape. Also, since the text associated with the tape is derived from the draft textbook lessons, it is fairly worthless to give the tape to anyone who doesn't have at least the first 3 draft textbook lessons.
Since we aren't mass producing the tape, Bob has to manually copy each tape that we distribute, which is not quick. And since the tape is not being widely distributed, we can't afford to put a lot of effort into polishing and editing it (although Lojbanist John Vengrouskie has vol- unteered to assist us in this, when we finally do so.)
Enough qualifications. The bottom line is that, for now at least, we will probably accept orders for the tape only from a) people who need the tape as examples for a group presentation they are giving on Lojban, and b) level 3 people who specifically ask for the tape. Among the latter, high priority will be given to paid orders, and to people who have been trying to use or write in the language or have otherwise contributed. I won't promise to fill unpaid orders at this point; we can't afford it.
The price for the 60 minute cassette is $9.00, with a 20% discount ($7.20) as announced in 'finances' above for people with positive balances who are either level 3 or who prepay their order.
Hypercard Mac LogFlash
Dave Cortesi has written a Hypercard implementation of LogFlash for the MacIntosh which is available on special order. The program, being new, and on the Mac, has not undergone Nora's exhaustive testing program; it has, however, been tested by at least three users and found to be a worthwhile product.
The main feature of the program, other than its Hypercard design that allows you to use the program for word look-ups as well as for testing, is that it interfaces with the standard MacIntosh speech generator. Thus, unlike Mac LojFlash, and other LogFlash versions, you can hear the word on request. This makes this program especially valuable to newer Lojbanists who are unfamiliar with the sound of the language, although the Hypercard implementation is apparently noticeably slower than Mac LojFlash, especially on the older and slower models.
Because Hypercard Mac LogFlash is of comparable functionality with Mac LojFlash, we are offering it at the same price - $20. Since the program is still in a late development stage, we will include in this price 6 months of update support: free updates will be provided during that time if a new release provides meaningful new functionality (and of course if any bugs need fixing); our normal update price is $6 for each update (with the 20% discount per above).
We are offering the program for now under similar restrictive terms as the cassette tape - priority will be given to advance paid orders, to level 3 subscribers, and to people needing the program for a demonstration; no guarantees that we can fill unpaid orders.
We are also offering the 20% discount on both Mac teaching programs as described under 'finances' above.
Nora has pretty well tested her new lujvo-making program for PC/MS-DOS machines, and we're going to start offering it for sale now. The program, unlike LogFlash and its variations, does not use a ladder technique, nor is it solely a teaching program.
lujvo-maker has two modes, one for reference, and one for drill. One mode allows you to type in up to 5 keywords from the list of gismu English keywords, and it will form the set of possible lujvo, listing up to 32 valid forms in order of highest 'score'.
The scoring algorithm differs from both proposals included in the Synopsis - these latter failed the most important test of all - usability by a Lojbanist trying to make words 'on the fly'. The new algorithm stresses word- length, with adjustments minimizing hyphens and consonant clusters. It generally selects the intuitive 'best word' from the list, and at least can be predicted 'on the fly'.
The drill mode selects a random tanru of 1 to 5 elements, and displays the English keywords. It then asks you to type in what you think is the 'best' lujvo. When you respond, it displays the set of correct values, and tells you whether you chose a valid lujvo, one in the top few in the list, or optimally, the best lujvo on the list. At this point, it keeps no statistics, although we may eventually add such a function for research aimed at evaluating how well people learn rafsi and lujvo-making. For now, the program is fairly simple - not even requiring a users manual. Just start it up and follow the menus.
We are offering lujvo-maker on a separate disk at this point for $10, with a 20% discount for those with positive balances etc., per 'finances' above. At some point, we will probably offer it in combination with the random sen- tence generator on a single diskette.
Unlike the above new products, there are no restrictions on ordering lujvo-maker; I can make copies fairly easily. The program is very effective at teaching lujvo-making, especially if used after or in conjunction with LogFlash 2, which teaches the rafsi independent of lujvo-making. After reaching 80% on LogFlash 2, it took me only about an hour of practice to regularly be able to predict either the top scoring lujvo, or at least one of the top 3 scorers. Since all lujvo forms based on the same root tanru have the same meaning, this is more than acceptable for everyday use.
Technical Papers Offered
Over the last year or two, as many of you know, I have been building a linguistics reference library, and a Loglan/Lojban historical archive. Your correspondence over the two years amounts to about 4-5 feet of filing cabinet space. Most of this correspondence is short letters, questionnaire responses, etc., that are primarily of interest for statistical or historical purposes. Some of you, however, have written article length essays and comments, etc. reviewing some aspect of Lojban or linguistics. T. Peter Park, Paul Doudna, and Jim Carter have been especially prolific, and Michael Helsem has writ- ten more Lojban text than we can review and print in JL (I get a new letter every week or two. Keep it up, Michael!). For a while, I published almost anything printable in JL. We can't do so anymore. Readers want me to be selective about length, relevance to general interest, etc.
The writings I'm talking about are NOT low quality. In some cases, they are written for readers of a particular experience background that I don't think is representative. To give an example, a year ago Jeff Prothero wrote a proof of Lojban elidable-terminator disambiguity. It's only 1 page long, but if I added enough explanation of Jeff's terminology and its relationship to our standard usages, and also explained the point of the proof to those who are unfamiliar with the machine grammar design, the result might be a dozen pages - and since I'm not sure that the proof is correct, or that people are interested, I can't use that much space on the article (nor can I spend the time writing the explanation).
A similar reason explains why I've never printed Jim Carter's descriptions of the evolving versions of his Loglan-derivative language. The text is too long, of insufficient general interest, and filled with vocabulary and usages that are peculiar to Jim's writing (and often contradicting our own terminology) to print in JL. But some among you want to read about other artificial language proposals, and Jim and others have given me their efforts presumably so that I can bring their ideas to a wider, interested, audience.
What I'm going to try to do over the next couple of months is to assemble a list of such special papers that I think can be made available to the Lojban readership, and I'll include it as a separate page of ordering materials. I'll also put the oldest issues of JL and its predecessor newsletters on that list, freeing up space on the main order form for new products.
I suspect that I have a couple dozen such papers, ranging in length from 1 page to 75 (for Paul Doudna's detailed analyses of Loglan/Lojban gismu categories).
I'm going to start with a base price of 15 cents/page, which is my estimate of what it costs for special order printing and mailing of such papers. I will apply the 20% discount to these papers for advance paid orders - if we lose a little money on this, I'll consider it a well-spent reward for those who are supporting us with cash. So I can keep going on more normal orders, I will have to fill these orders on a time-available basis, unless you give me some time-dependent reason for rushing your order.
If we lose too much money on this service, or if it takes too much of my time, we'll have to raise the price or try something else, but I want to do something to bring more of these writings to interested readers.
I'll try to start this service with the next JL issue. I'm interested in anyone's comments about the idea, and how it might be made to work best.
3 1/4" Diskettes
With my new 386/25 machine, I have a 3 1/4" disk drive, and can now offer PC/MS-DOS software in that format. For now, we'll charge the same price, since the higher cost of the diskettes is approximately countered by my not needing to use expensive disk mailers, and by slightly cheaper postage.
Here's the way I think things look for the textbook at this writing.
After I finish whatever needs to be done on the four open grammar issues, I will start working intensely on the textbook. First priority is to write up Athelstan's mini- lesson, which will serve as a new opening lesson. I may also revise the Overview for incorporation in the introduction.
I have long planned to scrap the existing Overview as an introduction to the language for new people and to replace it with a derivative of one of T. Peter Park's outstanding efforts at overview-writing (these will be among the papers made available per the above discussion). T. Peter's overviews are heavy with examples and have a much more personable style than the stilted, fairly technical overview we distribute now. But the latter is useful for the textbook, perhaps blended into the mini-lesson write- up, because it covers the whole language, and defines our special usage vocabulary and jargon that is found throughout JL, the textbook, and all of our other writings.
I will then be revising the 6 existing lessons, probably breaking them up into smaller chunks - as many as 20. I'll try to add more examples, and to bring a student to a greater feeling of competence earlier in the text. Athelstan has people making good sentences after an hour mini-lesson; the textbook takes 2+ lessons to get to the same point.
Next, I will finish the equivalent of Lessons 7, 8, and 9 of the textbook outline, using the same organization and lesson size that I develop for the first 6 lessons. Much of this material will come from the write-up on negation that I'm putting together for next issue.
Finally, I'll put together a vocabulary list Appendix, Glossary, Index, and perhaps a couple of appendices on using the textbook more effectively for self-study and for classroom study. I'd also like an appendix dealing with common errors made by new Lojbanists.
Nora will be assisting me by devising more examples - my main weakness in textbook writing and teaching is an inability to devise good examples to illustrate a particular point on demand. I will also be using examples out of the various writings that Lojbanists send me for review. This textbook will thus be a creation of many people, not just a few.
As I said above, I want to have a draft finished by LogFest in mid-June. This is probably optimistic, since I haven't gotten started on it yet, but I think it will move quickly once I get going. (Now where have we heard this before!) But I've made a commitment; the textbook, and the dictionary, will be done this year.
As for the dictionary - the primary efforts to be done in prerequisite are the completion of the new cmavo list, which Jeff Taylor has been working on for several months, and a word by word review of expanded gismu place structures that I actually prepared about 8 months ago. These will form the core of the dictionary, which will be enhance by a data base of alternative English keyword equivalents, and entries for conversions and abstractions of the gismu and their corresponding lujvo.
I haven't yet figured out how I want to write such entries, but the first dictionary will be prepared with fairly mechanical definitions to make sure that it gets written. We'll then revise it based on your feedback on the First edition.
Finally, I'll be adding in the (hopefully) baselined machine grammar and an explanation of how to use it, various supplementary lists, such as Lojbanizations of common names, an index of rafsi, etc., and a revision of the Synopsis, which belongs in a reference work. Probably to be added to a later edition will be a revised an completed grammar synopsis that I once started writing, now available as the partial 'grammar description' we list on our order form.
Right now, I am hoping to sell each of these books for about $12-15, with the 20% discount ($10-12) for positive balances described under 'finances' above. At least one person has pointed out that we probably should charge more, since quality technical paperbacks generally sell for $15- 20 nowadays. At this point, I'm inclined to go the cheaper route. I want students and Lojbanists overseas to buy the books, and I want more people buying them, rather than having fewer people buying, and giving books away to the others because I don't want anyone who wants to learn the language to be deprived by an inability to afford the books.
Another possibility I'm considering is that the prices given above will be advance order prices only to repay all of you who have stuck with us over the years with a special lower price, and that within a few months after publi- cation, we will raise prices to start earning money in support of our other activities.
I am noting people's requests for textbooks now, but don't have a mechanism in place to record advance orders, so please don't send 'orders' yet. You CAN, of course, send money now to bring your balance positive before the textbook comes out, and to even put in enough to have paid for the 'advance order price' needed for the 20% discount. A large number of people bringing their balances positive will probably lead to keeping textbook prices lower, because we'll have the money and orders to print more books, and to not have to take out a loan to pay for the printing. (We'll also accept your donations made specifically towards textbook publication, or towards paying for copies for people who legitimately cannot afford them.)
Your feedback on our plans is important. Let me know your opinions.
We've had volunteers to port LogFlash to CP/M, the Amiga, and the Apple II, during the last 3 months, all of which I've tried to discourage: people who start this effort don't seem to finish it, and I'd rather see people not waste their time on an incomplete effort. Perhaps a half dozen people have volunteered for each of the portings mentioned, and only one (an Amiga version by Carl Burke) got partially running. LogFlash is apparently surprisingly complex - 2000 lines of Turbo Pascal, and this will probably be increased later this year when we have longer English definitions for the gismu list.
CP/M is the only porting possibility that seems meaningful; older Turbo-Pascal versions exist for CP/M so that conversion would be easy. Speed, small diskette sizes, and the infinite variety of terminal interfaces and diskette formats make a conversion a problematical investment of effort in the rapidly declining CP/M market.
Eric Raymond had completed an 85% conversion of LogFlash to portable Unix C, using a Turbo-to-C translator that he is modifying as he goes to make sure that we can always generate working Pascal from the C and vice-versa. There have been hang-ups due to incompatible I/O between Turbo-Pascal and C; LogFlash uses 'random access' to disk files, which is apparently difficult to match in C. Otherwise the project would be completed.
Volunteers who have significant amounts of time to contribute and a good knowledge of both C and Turbo Pascal can contact Eric on uucp/Internet at:
If the conversion is completed it can perhaps serve as a basis for portings to several other machines, given the attempt to maximize portability of the C code. If the porting is completed, we will consider making the C version the main 'baseline' version. The problem with this is support, since neither Nora nor Bob is proficient with C.
News (with Comments) About the Institute
(For newcomers, The Loglan Institute, Inc. is the organization headed by James Cooke Brown, the founder of the Loglan Project. While la lojbangirz. has serious disputes with Brown on availability of the language, and the politics of the Loglan/Lojban community, we respect his achievements and contributions to Loglan/Lojban. We will strive to continue to present reasonably fair outside reports on his efforts, especially reporting on how his organization's activities affect Lojban and Lojbanists.)
Jim Brown's 4th edition of Loglan 1 has been out for 9 months now. The Loglan Institute, Inc. has advertised the book in Scientific American, Analog, and a couple of other magazines (If you see anything about Loglan or Lojban in any publication, or receive anything from Jim Brown, please consider sending me a copy for the historical archive, or at least asking me if I need it - I am already getting most things put out by the Institute, since our information network is spread wide).
We've noted that the Institute is spending a LOT of money on advertising (thousands of dollars), which must certainly be adding significantly to Institute prices. In contrast, la lojbangirz. is trying to minimizing advertising costs by building an extensive word-of-mouth network in advance of the textbook.
Incidentally, the number of books Jim, and we, can sell, is an uncertain question. Most small press print runs are for 500, 1000, or 2000 books, with significant per book savings on the larger numbers. We don't know how many copies Jim had printed, but I believe he only sold 2000 copies of the 3rd Edition of Loglan 1 back in 1975-7 (at a MUCH lower price), and he advertised in Scientific American at least 3 times. He also didn't have Lojban and la lojbangirz. around as a 'competitor'.
We haven't been hurt in the slightest by Brown's publication. In fact, we have profited some thereby. People come up to us at conventions and ask about the relationship between Lojban and Loglan, and we tell them - generally doubling our response rate.
We also gain through our extensive grass roots network. Perhaps once a month people post a message on Internet saying that they've bought Loglan 1 and asking whether anyone else is studying Loglan. We answer, and have added a couple of level 3 language students as a result, because these are people that want something like la lojbangirz. to support their language learning activities. Similar messages are posted on Compuserve, Genie, and other national networks, and Lojban volunteers have been quick to answer.
Meanwhile we've lost exactly 1 person in each of the last 3 years who has chosen to study the Institute's version of the language over Lojban
Turning to other Institute activities, we've heard that Robert McIvor has revised the 8-year-old draft of a paper intended for submission to Communications of the ACM on the supposed unambiguity of the Institute's version of the language, and that he again plans to submit the paper. Jim wrote to several of the co-authors of the paper to tell them; most of these co-authors are studying Lojban. One co-author, Jeff Prothero, who devised some of the major schema for making the language truly unambiguous, indicates that he now thinks the paper's concept is too flawed to be worth publishing, and that the hand-waving evidence for 'unambiguity' needed to explain the Institute's grammar would be laughed at by the computer community. I have an old draft of the paper in the archives and tend to agree.
The Institute published its first issue of Lognet in over a year just after JL11 went out. Jim recruited Rex May, a nationally known cartoonist and libertarian author as the new editor. The result was a much improved Lognet, if small. It included a dozen pages or so, including a couple of pages of sales offerings comparable to our order form, but it did have the first paragraph of text in Institute Loglan that has been seen in years (other than in Loglan 1), and a couple of articles other than by Brown, also a rarity.
Other than cartoons, the quality has a long way to go to match JL, so I'm not threatened (we've asked Rex to draw us some cartoons, too). Disturbing is Brown's announced intent to give several issues of Lognet to new book purchasers and inquirers; this is disturbing not in its threat to us - that is after all what we do with le lojbo karni and Ju'i Lobypli, but rather in ethical sense that it seems unfair to charge Institute members $25 for such a meager publication, and then give it to everyone else who doesn't pay for it, for free.
The three relatively technical articles included a proposal by Rex May on non-Loglan alphabets, which is similar in many ways to Lojban's scheme for the same problem. An article by Brown reported on problems in Loglan 1 that were detected by 'several persons' (he quoted only problems and examples Athelstan and I reported in our review in LK10). Brown claimed that the problems were minor and offered a contest for the best solutions. I barely resisted the temptation to submit the simplest solution: switch to Lojban.
An essay written by Robert McIvor proposed that gismu be assigned 5 different place structures, depending on the 5 different final vowels possible at the end of a word (in both versions of the language, two gismu are not permitted to differ only by final vowel. Unlike Lojban, the Institute version makes an exception for 'cultural words', and this proposal is a major expansion of that exception into a universal.
I won't go at length into the problems with the proposal, but its adoption would spell the end of the Institute version as a true predicate language. The proposal calls the varying place structures 'cases' - and indeed the proposal is in effect reinventing declensions. More important, the gismu are divided into a bunch of categories, including 'nouns' and 'verbs', 'culture words', 'people', 'body parts' and a few others. Each category would have its own peculiar set of declensions. Thus the assumption of a predicate language that all predicates are alike is violated at the start - major 'Whorfian effects' that might derive from the fact that things traditionally 'verbs' can be treated as 'nouns' in Loglan, and vice versa would be eliminated. There are other problems, some identified by McIvor himself, any of which should be sufficient to kill the idea.
There is some letter feedback and questions on Institute equivalents of LogFlash and other programs. It appears that those programs are being sold without proper testing. But I won't pretend that la lojbangirz. hasn't had its own software support problems, especially with MacIntosh software.
Finally, Brown calls on readers to do a lot of things to promote the Institute version of the language. A lot of the proposals are things that we've been doing. la lojbangirz. is honored by the extent that Brown values our methods. If only he would realize that our methods require a public domain language in order to work.
Next issue, and a lot more news.
Feature Topic: Esperanto and Lojban
[Whether you have (or should have) interest in Lojban as a candidate for an "international language" is not a question addressed in the following two articles. To achieve most of its goals, including the scientific ones, Lojban needs to develop an international, multi-cultural speaker base. Lojban can be helped in this effort by the "international language" community, or it can be hurt by it. Perhaps one of the best ways to spread Lojban into other cultures will be to translate the introductory and teaching materials into Esperanto (any volunteers?) In any case, it is to all Lojbanists' advantage to clarify the relationship between Lojban and Esperanto, and to ensure that supporters of each language do not see the other language as a 'rival'.]
Probably the most commonly asked questions from new or potential Lojbanists relate to various comparisons between Esperanto and Lojban. Many of these questions come from Esperantists, who of course are the ones most familiar with their language. Some of these are friendly and curious; others are defensive and hostile, seeing Lojban as a threat or competition to Esperanto. Others come from people who have dabbled in Esperanto, and they then want to use their knowledge of Esperanto as a standard for evaluating Lojban's qualities with respect to their personal priori- ties or goals. And then there are the genuinely confused, who often have seen one of the short eye-catching advertising flyers used by Esperantists to whet people's interest. These questions generally lead to discussions along one of several lines:
- Why another international language? Isn't Esperanto good enough? After all, it's already spoken by [insert questionable statistic of your choice between 25,000 and 10,000,000] people.
- Is Esperanto a European language? Does the answer mean that non-Europeans will or won't be able to easily learn it? Is Lojban any better?
- Can Esperanto be used in testing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis? Can Esperanto be used for machine translation? (and similar questions about applications for which we think Lojban is especially well-designed).
- Esperanto had speakers within a few months of its publication, but Loglan/Lojban has been around for 15/25/35 years before even the first speakers gained competence. (This leading to the humorous aside that Loglan is the first artifi-cial language to undergo a schism before anyone spoke it. Probably not true - Lojban is the first language to SURVIVE aschism occurring before anyone spoke it. la lojbangirz. is now far stronger and less-divided than the Loglan/Lojban community has ever been.)
- I want a language that I can use NOW for speaking and writing to other people. Lojban doesn't have anyone speaking the language, especially in other countries.
- There are also comments commending the short, free correspondence course that Esperanto supplies. These generally are compared to our considerably more complicated teaching materials.
And finally, sparking the following article:
- You say Lojban has 600 rules. But Esperanto has only 16. How can you say Lojban is simpler than Esperanto?
Athelstan will answer this question, and then Bob will follow with an essay tackling the other issues that stem from trying to compare Lojban and Esperanto.
How many rules are enough? by Athelstan
Many people are confused or dismayed that Lojban has 600 rules while Esperanto has a mere 16. The key is in the different kinds of rules these are: Lojban's are computer parsing rules, similar to the types of rules used by compiler writers to describe computer languages. Zamenhof's 16 Rules of Esperanto are essentially commentary on 16 topics of language.
I have concocted 11 rules of Lojban that approximately correspond to Esperanto's 16. Like Zamenhof's list, the Lojban rules are often groups of rules concerning a single topic. Also, following Zamenhof's example, the rule set is incomplete: the rules do not describe word or sentence order, relative and subordinate clauses, relative pronouns, and numerous other topics of grammar and vocabulary.
The 16 Rules of Esperanto
Corresponding Rules for Lojban
1) There is no Indefinite Article, there is only a definite article (la), alike for all sexes, cases, and numbers.
1) The articles la, le, lo, li, and lu are the name, non-veridical, veridical, numeral, and utterance articles,respectively. lai, lei, and loi are the mass articles and la'i, le'i, and lo'i are the set articles corresponding to the first three above. lo'e is the typical/average article, and le'e is the stereotypical article. None vary by number, case or sex.
Comment: This is the one rule where Lojban is not as succinct as Esperanto in covering the same ground.
2) Substantives end in o. To form the plural j is added. There are only two cases: nominative and accusative; the latter is obtained from the nominative by adding n. Other cases are expressed by preposition (genitive de, dative al,ablative per, etc.)
2) sumti (arguments) assume the case of the sumti place they occupy. The place tags fa, fe, fi, fo, and fu may be used to explicitly state the place. Also, the case tags bai, bau, di'u, etc. may be used to specify the case.
Comment: Lojban words do not change endings, so the corresponding rule only deals with determination of cases. Note that this is a conglomeration of four rules, each in its own sentence.
3) The Adjective ends in a. Case and number as for substantives. The Comparative is made by means of the word pli,the Superlative by plej; with the Comparative the conjunction ol is used.
3) Any selbri may modify any other selbri by position. Comparatives and Superlatives are formed by simple modification.
Comment: The Lojban rule describes a secondary function, as there are no separate words that act only as adjectives in Lojban. The Esperanto rule consists of six rules this time; the second sentence is short but refers to two separate rules inside Rule 2.
4) The cardinal Numerals (not declined) are: unu, du, tri, kvar, kvin, ses, sep, ok, nau, dek, cent, mil. Tens and hundreds are formed by simple junction of the numerals. To mark the ordinal numerals a is added; for the multiple, obl;for the fractional, on; for the collective, op; for the distributive, the preposition po. Substantival and adverbial numerals can also be used.
4) The digits are pa, re, ci, vo, mu, xa, ze, bi, so, and no (zero). pi is the decimal point. Numbers are formed byjunction of the digits. li ... boi surround simple numbers as sumti. To mark the ordinal, the post-position moi isused; similarly mei for the collective. pi ... mei surrounds the fractional.
Comment: These two Rules correspond closely for the first seven parts, but the last sentence of Zamenhof's rule invokesrules from Rule 2 and Rule 3, adding ten rules in all for a total of seventeen rules directly and indirectly containedin this paragraph.
5) Personal Pronouns: mi, vi, li, si, gi (thing or animal), si, ni, vi, ili, oni; possessives are formed by adding a.Declension as for substantives.
5) Anaphora: ko'a, ko'e, etc; mi, do, ko, ti, ta, tu, ri, ra, ru, zu'i, zo'e; possessives are formed by position orwith prepositions pe, po, po'e.
Comment: These are of similar length except that Rule 2's substantive declension rules are included. I count sixrules, therefore, to Lojban's three.
6) The Verb undergoes no change with regard to person or number. Forms of the verb: time being (Present) takes thetermination -as; time been (Past) -is; time about-to-be (Future) -os; Conditional mood -us; Imperative mood -u; In-finitive -i. Participles (with adjectival or adverbial sense): active present -ant; active past -int; active future -ont; passive present -at; passive past -it; passive future -ot. The passive is rendered by a corresponding form of theverb esti and a passive participle of the required verb; the preposition with the passive is de.
6) The selbri undergoes no change. The tense markers pu (past), ca (present), ba (future), vi, va, vu (space), etc.may be used with any selbri or within sumti. nu, ka, ni, etc. are the abstraction operators. For the imperative, usethe anaphorum ko.
Comment: Without reference to any other Rules, Zamenhof has packed Rule 6 with sixteen rules. Lojban's nine include the abstraction operators, which have no counterpart in Esperanto. Also, I have counted the tense markers as three separate rules, but they should probably count as one, like any of the other lists.
7) Adverbs end in e; comparison as for adjectives.
Comment: This is covered under Rule 3 on modification.
8) All Prepositions govern the nominative.
Comment: Lojban has no cases in the sense used here, so it needs no rule corresponding to this one.
9) Every word is Pronounced as it is Spelt.
7) Every word is Pronounced as it is Spelt.
10) The Accent is always on the second-last syllable.
8) The Accent is always on the second-last syllable (names may be marked for irregular stress).
11) Compound Words are formed by simple junction of the words (the chief word stands at the end). Grammatical terminations are also regarded as independent words.
9) lujvo are formed by simple junction of the gismu or rafsi, substituting or inserting y where appropriate.
Comment: As Zamenhof left off variant compounding rules, I felt equally free in leaving out the more extensive lujvo-making considerations.
12) When another negative word is present the word ne is left out.
10) na acts to negate a bridi, and is never an intensifier.
Comment: I have recently examined a treatise on the scope of negation in the natural languages. It is medium-sized,and an inch and a half thick; both of these two Rule statements obviously miss a lot of ground. [Bob's note: the current Lojban negation proposal covers all of the ground of negation with 4 cmavo, and involves 47 of the 600-oddmachine grammar rules. But it requires a lot of explanation to cover all of natural language negation, as will be seen in JL12.]
13) In order to show direction towards, words take the termination of the accusative.
Comment: see comment on 8, above.
14) Each Preposition has a definite and constant meaning; but if the direct sense does not indicate which it should be, we use the preposition je, which has no meaning of its own. Instead of je we may use the accusative without a preposition.
15) The so-called Foreign Words, that is, those which the majority of languages have taken from one source, undergo no change in Esperanto, beyond conforming to its orthography; but with various words from one root, it is better to use unchanged only the fundamental word and to form the rest from this latter in accordance with the rules of the Esperanto language.
11) Nonce le'avla are marked with le'a and a marker rafsi as appropriate, and should conform to Lojban orthography.
Comment: Zamenhof's Rule here does not seem to admit of any major group of languages that are not closely interrelated.That is, he assumes that if a word varies, it varies from one fundamental root word. I have included a description of borrowed terms as the closest approximation to this rule.
16) The Final Vowel of the substantive and of the article may sometimes be dropped and be replaced by an apostrophe.
Please note the overall structure of the 16 Rules. The first 8 cover eight major parts of speech in Graeco-Romangrammar; articles, nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns, verbs, adverbs and prepositions. The last 8 cover seven aspects of the same grammatical philosophy: pronunciation, accent, compounding, negation, case usage, borrowings, and elision. (Rule 14 should really be divided and shared between Rule 8 and Rule 13.)
This means that any language with a Graeco-Roman grammar form can be described by similar rules. They may be long rules, including lots of sub-rules, but Zamenhof started this practice with the Esperanto rules. They may ignore a lot of the grammar, but again this is in keeping with the example set.
In fact, with slight adjustments to the Rule topics, any language may be described with approximately 16 rules, if the rules are sufficiently complex (and allow for all the exceptions that are inherent in natural languages). In some cases, a language's rule set may not even be as complex as Esperanto's; this is the case with Lojban.
In order to have a meaningful comparison between numbers of rules, the complexity of those rules must be nearly uniform; the machine parsing rules (of which Lojban has about 600) come closer to meeting that ideal. Unfortunately,there are no figures on the number of such rules required by Esperanto; we must rely on indirect evidence of their number. Esperanto's dependency on case declensions probably alone requires a complete set of rules comparable to Lojban's FOR EACH CASE.
It is not my intention here to prove that Lojban is 'better than Esperanto' or that Esperanto is in some way 'defective'. It is rather to show that the comparison of two languages is a complex task, and not to be decided by comparing raw numbers. Each of these languages is complex in itself, and yet much simpler than the natural languages.
[Bob's note: Even comparing languages by counting machine parsing rules is risky, unless you count rules the same way.We've used the number 600 as the machine rule count for Lojban in the above article. However, that number is a count of each individual rule line in the current machine grammar proposal, which was not written to minimize the rule count, but to modularize the grammar into separate, small chunks that can be readily understood. An earlier JL article compared Lojban's rule count to the 'BNF rules' used to define common computer languages like C, Pascal, or ADA; such a comparison can only be approximated. The Lojban rules are much simpler than those used in BNF rule descriptions, which are generally use compression conventions that are not directly testable with YACC for unambiguity. Eventually,probably after we baseline the YACC grammar, someone will rewrite the Lojban rules in the shorter, more readable BNF format. The result will be much shorter than the current rule set - perhaps 250-350 rules, within the same order of magnitude as computer languages.]
On Comparing Esperanto and Lojban, by Bob LeChevalier
First let me state a guiding principle for evaluating the two languages. Lojban is not 'in competition' with Esperanto. These are two separate languages with separate goals and applications. These may overlap, but are not identical.
Evaluating two languages is like 'comparing apples and oranges'. If forced to choose between an apple and orange,you will do so for purely personal reasons, based on your needs and desires of the moment. Similarly, if your goal is to learn an artificial language and you don't have time to learn both Lojban and Esperanto, you will end up choosing based on your own personal reasons. (Learning a language, even an artificial one, is a fairly abstruse goal in itself -you usually have some longer range purpose for such a major effort, a purpose that will probably dictate the language you learn).
Competition would be pointless. Partisan support for one language doesn't make that language 'better' for others;it can, however, spark counterproductive rivalry. Far better instead to work to attract new people into discovering reasons for learning our respective artificial languages. By encouraging these new people, as well as supporters of our respective languages, to be as informed as possible about both languages, intelligent choices can be made towards individual goals.
If Lojban becomes widely used, it might become a meaningful candidate as a universal 'second language', just as Esperanto now is. If Esperanto continues with healthy growth, then at that time there might be a basis to speak of a 'choice' for 'world language' between Lojban, Esperanto, and possibly other candidates. The decisions will then be made by nations and cultures on the basis of THEIR personal desires and goals - the same non-competitive situation, but at a higher level.
For Lojban to reach that level of viability, its various applications will have to be proven - there must be computer implementations, accomplishment of useful scientific research, and thousands or millions of speakers, before Lojban can be talked of as a 'world language' as Esperanto now is. If Lojban becomes such a force for consideration as a world language, then I think that demonstrating enough growth to 'catch up to Esperanto' as well as enough usefulness OUTSIDE of the international language movement to survive until then, will be convincing evidence that Lojban is suited for world acceptance. Furthermore, if Esperanto hasn't succeeded as an international language by the time Lojban is proven viable for global consideration, then Lojban's 'higher momentum' and extra applications should the cause it to be considered 'more' viable. Meanwhile, if Esperanto does succeed, then Lojban will continue to be used and useful for its other purposes. Each language will succeed or fail at its own goals on its own merits.
Neither language has been accepted yet, and neither language will be accepted at the expense of the other. There is no point in talking of competition, especially when many Lojbanists are at the same time Esperantists, and who have no desire to 'make a choice'. Let's keep the community of artificial language aficionados together, bucking the tendency in that community towards disharmony and schism.
So let us try to compare apples and oranges.
There are four major areas of criteria wherein Esperanto and Lojban can be compared - aesthetics, usefulness, scientific or linguistic merit, and success. I'll discuss each in turn.
The first basis of comparison is aesthetic. There are a few aesthetic qualities - sound, rhythm, ease of pronunciation, simplicity, elegance, completeness - but the standards of 'good' in these qualities are cultural at best, and individual at worst. I am most irritated by people, not having made an effort to learn the language, who say that Lojban seems 'cold', 'mechanical', 'inhuman', 'complicated', 'hard to learn', or deficient any other measure of aesthetic quality; they have absolutely no knowledge basis on which to make such an evaluation!
The aesthetics of language is totally determined by knowledge. All languages have beauty, when looked at from an internal perspective. You have to see, and to understand, the sounds, the forms, the structure, and the poetry, before you can determine whether a language has properties that attract you. Michael Helsem's writings in le lojbo ciska this issue may demonstrate this to you. Whether you like his poetry or not, he clearly has found something in the language that inspires him to explore further. He couldn't have found this without trying to express his own ideas in the language.
Most people make a first evaluation of Lojban based on two sentences in the brochure, and a couple more if they get the Overview. These sentences can be evaluated by a newcomer only in translation, and whatever virtue Lojban has is obviously going to be lost by translation into English. The sentences are longer than the colloquial English translation, so Lojban seems complicated (heightened by people's perception that logic is complicated). The frequent reference to 'logic' in our introductory materials makes people think of Vulcans, whereupon they presume that a logical language must inherently be cold and inhuman.
Similarly, people criticize our 'Chicken McNugget' gismu - it seems like the wrong way, to them, to build a 'warm, human' language. A newcomer sees a heavy emphasis on the rules of the language, on computer applications, and on linguistic principles, in our introductory descriptions, which makes Lojban seem 'cold' and 'mechanical'.
A third group of critics see Lojban words as unaesthetic because of particular sounds that they find difficult to say, or simply because the words are enough different from English that they think it will be hard to learn them.
I believe that all of these evaluations are based on misconceptions caused by the way we describe the language and by the readers' cultural prejudices. However, we can't possibly tell a casual newcomer enough about the language for him/her to aesthetically evaluate it. There are too many possible misconceptions to deal with; in this newsletter alone I've written 3 or 4 essays that try to dispel misconceptions among readers with far more information than the person who casually picks up our brochure.
Esperanto appeals aesthetically to European-family newcomers because they grasp the simplified European principles relatively easily. They can read Esperanto text and recognize dozens of cognates, giving them a feeling that they already practically know the language. Esperanto will always have this advantage over Lojban, since Lojban requires an interested person to learn a bit more before she/he can see the simplicity and the patterns.
We need to make introductory Lojban materials good enough that a newcomer feels compelled to learn enough about the language to properly evaluate aesthetic features. WHEN PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT LOJBAN, THEY STAY WITH US. Our dropout rate among such people is only a couple of percent per year.
Several people have tried to write a one-or-two page handout on Lojban, but it's awfully hard to describe something as complex as a human language in just a couple of paragraphs. On the other hand, at Worldcon, we saw numerous 1-page Esperanto handouts that showed great advertising sophistication, reducing all of Esperanto to some graphics and a catchy slogan that plays to the emotions. I would feel dishonest trying to do the same. Our handouts give information, quite dense information at that. Our only catchy slogan so far is ".e'osai ko sarji la lojban.", which of course also loses something in the translation.
Perhaps Lojban promoters can learn from Esperanto in other ways. Esperanto has a correspondence course for newcomers, which Lojban doesn't. It isn't even on our priority list yet, although Athelstan's mini-lesson may eventually serve much the same basic purpose - to give peo- ple the warm, fuzzy, feeling that they can indeed learn the language, and that it is aesthetically pleasing - then they will be willing to start the hard work necessary to actually learn it. Only the people who move beyond such introductory lessons actually learn and use the language.
On a more practical note, it will be impossible to evaluate the aesthetics of Lojban until it is spoken by reasonably fluent speakers. Only the first tidbits of Lojban poetry have now been written, by one poet, so the enormous power of the language to convey ideas has hardly been tapped. The aesthetics of Lojban are being evaluated on such trivial grounds as whether one likes the apostrophe as a representation for the vowel buffer (pronounced like an h - but NOT an h), or whether the consonant clusters at the beginning of "cfari" and "mrilu" seem pronounceable. Esperantists have a similar problem, with four alphabetic letters not found on any typewriter or computer keyboard. But Esperanto has speakers, poetry, novels - a community of people using the language - to give it the aura of 'humanity'. It did not have these 100 years ago, when people first made the choice to learn the language. Lojban will have these things, too, and in a very short while.
Turning to the second major area where Esperanto and Lojban may be compared, we examine the qualities of usefulness - what are the uses to which each language may be put, and how well does each language serve those purposes. Esperanto was designed solely as an international language. Other purposes that could be devised for it are accidental. Lojban was first designed as a linguistic tool, but with specific requirements (cultural neutrality, ease of learning, simplicity) that probably are important in an international language, and one (extremism in one or more areas of language structure) that is a disadvantage. For various reasons, the disadvantage of extremism has been ameliorated; most of the extremes in Lojban are optional, and can be avoided by an international user. The advent of computers and the large number of computer professionals has led to a secondary goal of useful computer applications while the language was still being formed, making this a third area of usefulness that is in effect designed into the language.
Unless we've really fouled up, Lojban HAS to be potentially useful in more ways than Esperanto is. IT WAS DESIGNED TO BE.
This doesn't suffice for a comparison, though. Lojban may have a great deal of unrealized potential, but Esperanto has realized most of its potential. It HAS been used for international communication. It is NOW being de- signed into an elaborate machine translation system that is expected to bear fruit by 1992. And while most linguists ignore Esperanto because it is not a 'natural language', has few native speakers, and is in effect a simplified European tongue, there are some linguists who have re- searched Esperanto as a language, and who have used it in linguistic studies such as language education.
Lojban is not yet being used for any of these things. However, every application 'discovered' for Esperanto has been designed for in Lojban, and a few more besides. Esperanto has an advantage in application now, but if Lojban survives at all, it will eventually have more and better applications. And because all of these applications are conceived of and being worked on from the start, Lojban won't take 100 years to achieve that large variety of useful application.
In the third area, scientific or linguistic merit, there is also no competition possible. Lojban has 'won the race' by starting at the finish line that Esperanto can never reach. Yet in another sense, Esperanto is also at a finish line, which Loglan/Lojban has had to strive for 35 years to finally reach.
When Esperanto was invented, there wasn't a science of linguistics. A few seeds had been planted, mostly along the lines of historical evolution of languages. The concept of inventing a language significantly different than European languages was inconceivable - at least in Europe. Indeed, until my generation, all languages, even Oriental ones, were taught using Latin as the pure, perfect, ideal if dead language that was the model of what a language 'should be'. Of hundreds of international languages invented before Lojban, almost none have a non- European grammar. They were simplified forms of Latin with some a priori or derived set of words to fit onto that Latinate architecture. Indeed, most of the hundreds of languages I've seen in the Library of Congress stacks are described only as dictionaries, with some small set of rules at the front telling what simplifications have been made to standard European (read Latin) grammar.
Esperanto's 16 rules are just such a set. Indeed, Zamenhof apparently intended all things not covered by the rules to be done 'like they are in your own language', as if all languages were alike in such reference. The 16 rules are confusing to anyone who doesn't know a European language, just as Lojban's machine grammar is confusing to anyone not versed in YACC grammars. What is an 'accusative' in any of the Amerind languages, an 'adjective' in Chinese, or perhaps a 'passive'? You can't teach Esperanto without teaching these concepts, which are inherent to the design of the language. A non-European can't learn Esperanto without first learning the concepts and mind-set of European language.
The Loglan Project was started some 40 years after what is considered the birth of modern linguistics. Then, in the 1950's, the language was a skeleton - a simple structure with a few hundred words - based on predicate logic, which has been thoroughly studied for 2000 years. By the time the language meaningfully took shape, in the 1960's, modern linguistic theory had undergone the revolution that had pretty much thrown out the Latin ideal. Older versions of Loglan show obvious Latinate biases. Newer versions leading up to Lojban have successively weeded out more and more of them. The Lojban version now being taught has had input from dozens of linguists, and has been examined in comparison with a variety of linguistic theories that weren't around when Esperanto was developed. Loglan/Lojban has changed to account for the rapidly developing field of linguistics. Only recently has there been enough confidence that a baselined Lojban is 'good enough' to meet the stringent linguistic tests that we believe are required for a totally new language to seem 'natural'.
Loglan/Lojban has striven for 35 years from scratch to achieve the finish line of 'natural' language. 100 years ago, Esperanto started at the European finish line, taking a few steps back to 'simplify' the European grammar before again 'completing the race'. Lojban moves beyond the restrictions of European grammar. It overtly incorporates linguistic universals, building in what is needed to support the expressivity of the whole variety of natural languages, including non-European ones. Esperanto, on the other hand, will always be constrained to some degree by its Latinate structure.
I am particularly bothered by comparisons that note that Lojban has taken 35 years to achieve meaningful conversation, while Esperanto had hundreds of thousands of speakers within 35 years of its founding, including some native speakers. The fact that Lojban took 35 years to reach a point of development where it was speakable is a mark of the amount of work that went into the language, a sign that this spoken language is different, but not inferior to, any that have existed before.
Since Lojban's purposes include linguistic experimentation, evaluating Lojban's merit requires noting the mechanisms built into the language that allow, even require, the use of the language for linguistic experimentation. There are roots of redundant expression forms for several types of expression. They will compete with each other for usage as Lojban grows. The choices made by real speakers should reveal NEW facts about language.
Lojban also has the cultural neutrality needed to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. (Yes, 'logic' could be a European bias. Indeed, Jim Brown intended that Loglan have an extreme bias that would have measurable effects - that is the requirement for a Sapir-Whorf experimental test. But beyond logic, Lojban is exceptionally free from obvious bias.) It has structures built into it that allow comparison with languages of many different families, not just European ones; such comparison will unmask observed Sapir-Whorf effects that are European artifacts in disguise, and will be possible because Lojban's grammar is non-European.
And you don't 'have to be logical' in Lojban. The redundant structures allow both hyperlogical and illogical ways of expressing things; you can be as erudite, or nonsensical as you choose.
Finally, the last criteria - success. Lojban has NO fluent speakers. Esperanto has some large number - the value dependent on your source and whether you or the source is trying to promote or denigrate the language - but certainly a lot more than Lojban. Where's the comparison? Where's the competition?
You cannot compare Esperanto's numbers with Lojban's numbers and gain any useful information regarding their relative potential for success. Lojban's couple of speakers are too small to deal with statistically. Thus you can use our numbers to prove practically anything.
For example, the number of Lojban students is growing in excess of 8% per month, or 100% per year. Extrapolating on this trend, Lojban would pass Esperanto in 15 years, and would be universally spoken 15 years after that. Reduce the growth rate and the results will be identical - just take longer, as long as Lojban grows faster than Esperanto. This extrapolation is ridiculous of course, and almost any method of predicting numbers is equally worthless, because changes will occur in the world every year that will invalidate any prediction. Just ask the peoples of Eastern Europe.
Esperanto is growing in numbers too, though not nearly as fast as Lojban. If it did, there would be no question about ITS eventually being a world language. But Esperanto right now isn't growing fast enough. When the population of the world grows by hundreds of millions per year, Esperanto is losing ground every day - just as Lojban is. Both languages are failures.
Two paragraphs, opposite conclusions. Counting speakers is meaningless. Based on numbers, anything will happen tomorrow. Or nothing.
Numbers of speakers are meaningless anyway, if the people don't USE the language. The biggest shock for me at Worldcon was sitting next to the Esperanto table for several days and NEVER HEARING A SINGLE CONVERSATION IN ESPERANTO. I won't say that none occurred (some of the people at the Esperanto tables are reading this), but I didn't hear any.
We didn't talk much Lojban at our table either. But our audience of potential conversationalists was much smaller - those of us who had driven up to Boston. The same group of us did speak Lojban for hours in the car going to and from Boston. But Esperantists visiting from all over the country and all over the world were speaking English in preference to Esperanto at their table.
Only if a language is used can it be judged successful. And neither language is being used to its potential (Nora and I COULD set time aside each day to talk in Lojban, but we don't.) This will have to change if either language is to achieve 'success', in the sense of being widely used.
Lojban has a long-term advantage there, based on the greater potential uses discussed above. If the language is USED by the people who learn it. If the 100-or-more level 3 people out there start sending me sentences, then para- graphs, then texts in Lojban, and eventually start interacting with each other because they don't need us to tell them that they are using the language correctly, then Lojban will be used for its intended purposes. If not, Lojban will be just another dead artificial language. The same is true for Esperanto.
Any Esperantist/Lojbanist who gives me the argument that they can use Esperanto now, but cannot use Lojban, is arguing a self-defeating position. If you want to use a language, you will find a way to use it. We have the network in place for Lojbanists to interact with each other, including some people from other countries (though the numbers are still small). But you have to learn the language first in order to use it.
The same argument follows for people who are 'waiting for some practical application' before learning the language. The people who are waiting should be making the known applications a reality, and should also be creating new ones. Some of the brightest people in the world are reading this essay; you certainly have the ability to make Lojban (or Esperanto) applicable to your life - but only if you choose to.
Lojban applications will naturally spring up from the seeds we've planted. The time that no one seems to have available now for learning the language, could bear fruit and be ripe with reward in just a few years.
Meanwhile Lojbanists have the ultimate consolation. Unlike Esperanto, Lojban can achieve one of its goals even while failing as a language. While most of the linguistic community has yet to realize it, the efforts of the past 35 years have probably taught more about the nature of language than any other experimental effort. Every day and every new Lojban speaker adds to that knowledge. If Lojban suddenly is abandoned 5 or 10 years from now as a dead language, or is 'beaten out by Esperanto' as a world language, it will still have succeeded in its original aim - to teach us more about language.
This is one aspect in which I can comfortably say that 'Lojban is better than Esperanto'.
Side Note on the Discussion
Philosophically, I am unconvinced that personal and political decisions should be made in a competitive environment. The prevalent idea seems to be that "for me to be right, you must be wrong" or "for me to be good, you must be bad" is unrealistically simplistic. Within human endeavors, there is no absolute right or absolute good. Whether a language or a person, a candidate should be chosen on the basis of how well the varying needs of everyone concerned will be served, preferably not at the expense of others' needs.
An interesting side note occurred to Nora in reading this. The Lojban gismu "xamgu", representing the concept of 'good', has the place structure "x1 is good for x2 by standard x3". Comparatives were also removed from other place structures when the language was redesigned. While Lojban can express comparisons quite easily, they are now avoided in gismu place structures. Thus one need not consider everything as being 'more' or 'better' than something else in order for a basic predicate relationship to be claimed. One needn't decide what something is "bluer than" in order to decide that it is "blue". One needn't decide that something is "better than" something else in order for it to be "good". This seems metaphysically simpler, and now appears to be a more significant qualitative difference from earlier versions of the language than we've perceived before.
The metaphysical difference is perhaps significant to a Sapir-Whorf test, since if S/W is true, the earlier design could lead to a culture where people see the world as a competitive place where everything always strives to be more 'broda' (~whatever) than something else, a culture that doesn't seem very pleasant to me in an aesthetic sense.
The following article is taken from a letter received from Dr. Gorsch in which he described his recent class. Those of you interested in the evolution of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis since 1955, and those of you interested in developing useful applications for Lojban in education should find the letter an following course outline very useful. We ask anyone else who considers using the materials below to develop their own course, or for any other purpose, to let us know their results in a similar fashion. We also ask that appropriate credit be given Dr. Gorsch for his germinal work.
An Introductory College Course in Semiotics Using Lojban
by Robert Gorsch
Thanks for sending the wonderful tape.
Alas, it arrived too late for me to use it in my class. Don't worry, though. I will use it when I reorganize this occasional course in "Semiology" into a regular course in "Language/Culture/Society." We are planning to make this course in "Language/Culture/Society" a regular part of the curriculum of the English Department, and "Artificial Languages" (including Lojban) will be a unit of this course. I expect to be offering it for the first time in the Spring of 1991.
I have enclosed the reading list for my course in semiology, together with copies of the readings most closely related to the Whorfian Hypothesis and the development of modern sign-theory. Please note that this is an "intensive" course: each meeting represents 2 1/2 hours of class-time or something like a week in a regular semester.
Let me briefly sketch the context in which I introduced students to Loglan and Lojban.
In my course we began with an examination of the way in which sign-systems, linguistic and non-linguistic, organize the raw experience of the human mind. We concentrated on developments in Continental linguistics and culture-theory that derive from the Swiss linguist Saussure. This tra- dition, associated with the terms "structuralism," "semiotics" or "semiology," and "post-structuralism" and "deconstruction," anticipates, parallels, and from the 1960's on elaborates the speculations of Sapir and Whorf. Saussurean "sign-theory," with all of its quasi-Whorfian implications, is extremely influential today in academic circles, particularly in such fields as literary studies, anthropology, and communications. Indeed, it has been practically the intellectual orthodoxy in literary studies since the mid-1970's.
Some semiologists look back to the Whorfian Hypothesis as a kind of corroboration of Saussure's thesis that the sign consists of the arbitrary correlation of a signifier, for example, an arbitrarily selected segment of human speech sounds, and a signified, an arbitrarily defined segment of human thought or experience. This thesis concerning the relation between language and thought is developed, in particular, on pp. 111-22 of Saussure's Course. Umberto Eco uses the terms "cultural unit" and "culturally pertinent unit" to refer to what Saussure and his followers would call the "signified" (see the enclosed selections from Eco).
For writers in this Saussurean tradition the lexicon of each language is of especial interest. Eco, for example, makes much of the fact that speakers of Latin had no word for "rat" as opposed to "mouse." They did not (or did not easily) make a distinction where speakers of English do make a distinction. Through the lexical items they make available to their speakers different languages embody different segmentations or divisions of potential human experience. Each language constitutes a "map" of human experience. Takao Suzuki's discussion of the English words break, drink, desk, water, and lip is designed to show that these maps do not coincide. It is as though English and Japanese cartographers--to say nothing of Turkish and Swahili cartographers--organized Earth's land masses into political units in quite different ways.
Semioticians like Eco also analyze the way in which a given language organizes human experience by relating culturally pertinent units ("signifieds") to one another through a network of connotative or associative links. Thus, as Eco explains in "Social Life as a Sign-System," a language not only differentiates each cultural unit from other, "adjacent" units ("orange" is differentiated from "red" and from "yellow"), but links each cultural unit to other units in other "semantic fields." The signified of the word "rose," the idea of a certain kind of flower, is linked connotatively to other signifieds, "romance," "sexual passion," "male reverence for the female," "courtship customs (giving flower)," "femininity," "youth," "freshness," and so on without limit. In this way each language is "contaminated" by traces of the cultural history of those who have used it: connotations are the links, arbitrary and mostly culture-specific, between one "semantic field" and another that speech communities inherit and take for granted.
This thesis about the segmentation of "raw" human experience is not incompatible with the Whorfian Hypothesis. Indeed, to the extent that Whorfians concentrate on the structure of the lexicon and ask, for instance, how many words the Eskimo has for snow, the Whorfian Hypothesis can scarcely be distinguished from Eco's argument about the "form" or "content" in the sign (see "Social Life as a Sign-System"). But, to my mind, the Whorfian Hypothesis is concerned more with grammatical structure rather than with lexicon. This is why I assign the essay "Science and Linguistics" in my course (see enclosed). I selected this from a number of possibilities as Whorf's clearest articulation of the thesis that the grammatical structure of a language, and not just the map afforded by its lexicon, shapes the perceptions of its speakers.
In my course, I used some introductory materials on both Esperanto and Loglan/Lojban to illustrate possible escapes from the constraints imposed on thought, according to the Whorfian Hypotheses, by natural languages. It was my hope that students would perceive the relations between the organizations of experience embodied in Esperanto and Logan/Lojban and those embodied in Indo-European languages like English, Spanish, and French. Anyone who examines Esperanto will see that it is Indo-European, even Romance- Germanic, to the core. Lojban, in contrast reflects a serious attempt to fashion a syntactic structure significantly different from that which structures English and other Indo-European languages.
I believe that you will find the enclosed readings on language and culture useful: they place the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in context and reflect the importance of the thesis of linguistic relativity in modern "culture- criticism." You should be able to locate the other readings assigned in my course using the information found in the syllabus (I would be happy to provide copies of any readings that you find difficult to obtain).
Questions from the Class, compiled by Dr. Gorsch, with responses by Bob LeChevalier
[Dr. Gorsch compiled some interesting, provocative, and very perceptive questions asked by his students. I'll try to answer them here, for everyone's benefit, and to hope that Dr. Gorsch is able to pass the answers back to appropriate questioners.]
Following is a digest of comments, reflections, and questions prompted by my students' encounter with materials relating to Loglan and Lojban. We discussed Loglan and Lojban in class and students wrote about them in their "intellectual diaries" (which I read).
Needless to say, all of my students were dazzled by the very idea that anyone would attempt to fashion an artificial language, and the brightest ones were intrigued by the idea of testing the Whorfian Hypothesis.
I would like it to be understood that all of the following questions and remarks were framed in a skeptical spirit: my students are trained to question things, everything in fact, in a skeptical spirit. Furthermore they are based upon an introductory acquaintance with the idea of the language. I hope these questions and remarks will be of interest to you.
1. As one of my brightest students argued, the architects of Loglan/Lojban seem to have taken a "marketing approach" to language design. For example, they worried more about the size of the target audience of the language -- by attempting to maximize the number of potential learners whose native languages would be incorporated, in part, into the artificial language -- than about the cul- tural neutrality of the language. J. C. Brown, at least, seems unreasonably impressed by mere numbers (how many hundreds of millions of speakers have been targeted by having their native languages incorporated in some way into the artificial language?). As compared with Loglan, Lojban clearly seems to take a step forward by including a Semitic language among its source languages; but it takes a step backward, too, by the elimination of Japanese. As things now stand, four out of six of the source languages (English, Hindi, Russian, and Spanish) are Indo-European. Thus, only three independent language families are represented (Indo-European, Hamito-Semitic, and Sino- Tibetan). Even if one limited oneself to languages spoken by over fifty million speakers, one could, in principle, represent three additional language families, for a total of six families: the Malay-Polynesian (e.g., Javanese and Malay-Indonesian), the Altaic (e.g., Turkish and probably Korean, and perhaps Japanese), and the Dravidian (e.g., Tamil and Telugu).
An important compromise seems to have been made here: "inter-culturality" seems to have been sacrificed to maximal "target audience" (or, from another perspective, maximal "learnability"). Legitimate questions could be raised about the cultural neutrality of any language which rooted in a set of languages four out of six of which are Indo-European. Questions might also be raised about your methodology: have you chosen source languages according to the best possible criterion? My own instincts tell me that one should maximize the number of independent language families from which the artificial language derives: the ideal artificial language would be derived from an analysis of, say six languages representing six utterly unrelated language families rather than from an analysis of those six languages which yield the largest possible "target audience."
Bob's response: I think it a quite perceptive observation, and a true one, that marketing mentality has had an influence on the design of the language, although I can't say for sure that it is the case in the word-making. Brown never mentions such a criterion in discussing why he chose the particular algorithm that he did in either Loglan 1 or Loglan 2.
Without evidence to back me up, I would tend to think that it was Brown's background as a social scientist in the 50's that led him to maximize an algorithmically-derived and weighted statistical score. In social science, this has been a frequently used and accepted methodology.
Looking at his goal, it is not an unreasonable approach. The goal was a culturally neutral word-set, but also a maximally learnable one. This is unquestionably a 'market- minded' goal, though whether Brown chose it for market reasons is uncertain. I think he was concerned about learnability, trying to balance it against neutrality. The most learnable words to a culture are the one's most like that culture's words. The most culturally neutral of words would give no link back to the native tongue. For what was originally thought of as a small short-term language experiment, learnability among test subjects was important enough to get a weighting factor.
Brown scored words based on the appearance therein of phoneme sequences that could be used as cognate memory hooks. As a result, English speakers find "klama" easy to learn for "come", while Chinese speakers will find "cadzu" easier to learn for "walk", and both find "blanu" for "blue" relatively easy.
JL9 had a more extensive discussion of the word-making algorithm and learnability. Briefly, it is believed that Brown never actually tested whether his algorithmic score actually measured learnability. Nor is it clear that it measures cultural neutrality. Eventually linguists can study both questions - the language as a tool is there for the studying.
The choice of languages was not a 'marketing' decision, but a practical one. Again, I don't know enough about Brown's reasons, but I know what we considered, tried, and rejected. Brown used 8 languages; we used 6 for the Lojban version, because these now are the 'top languages' in terms of population. While Japanese is sociologically, if anything, a more important language than it was 35 years ago, the number of speakers has remained constant in a growing world population. Chinese and Hindi have swelled enormously. With the end of colonialism, French and German are on the retreat, and so to a lesser extent is English (although English has increased as the language of science and technology).
Given that the object of the algorithm is the creation of 5-letter words with 3 consonants, it turns out to be meaningless to use more than 3 language families to generate scores under Brown's algorithm. First, regardless of the number of languages, you must use uneven weights, or you get ties among possible words, and we didn't want our own personal aesthetics to be what chose the words. If an uneven weighting is to be used, populations of speakers is certainly as rational a weighting to use as any.
Then, given that language roots are most often reflected in their consonants, a 4 language family set results in the least-reinforced language being thrown out, and a lot of low, approximately equal scores for widely differing rules - again a formula for randomness and aesthetic selection on my (the word-maker's) part. A lesser, but real factor in our remaking of the words was the tradeoff of time vs. quality of language scholarship. We didn't have very good dictionaries for languages of other families, and we didn't have time to acquire the language expertise to properly research languages with unfamiliar alphabets.
By the way, we did experiment with both equal-weighting of languages, and with adding additional languages into the calculation. Neither gave useful results.
While 4 of our languages are in the same family, Indo- European, they are from different subfamilies that have relatively minimal sharing of roots. Indeed, about the only obvious reinforcing that we observed was some En- glish/Spanish matches where we allowed a Latinate root in the English calculation. There was probably a good deal of subliminal sharing, but a high percentage of the words are primarily a blending of Chinese and English phonemes.
What was achieved, I think, is better than a set of random words. Because the weighted scores included phoneme frequency and order, we have words that have a phoneme frequency that is consistent with the weighted average concept. We have an extremely non-random distribution of sound sequences that emphasizes those sound sequences that are pleasing to the widest possible distribution of speakers, because those sound sequences came from the words of their own languages.
Cultural neutrality is served in that the words are sufficiently different from the roots of any one language family that no language sees a too high level of cognate reinforcement. Even with 4 Indo-European languages, no linguistic historian would ever recognize Lojban as having an obvious Indo-European heritage instead of a Sino-Tibetan one. Thus we counter to some extent the cultural biases caused by semantic transference, where Lojban words end up with the meanings of the base language.
Furthermore, since we use the same concept (as near as possible) from each source language, our vocabulary has a universality not biased towards a single culture. Such a bias towards one culture is the main threat against Lojban's usefulness in testing Sapir-Whorf, especially if it is an unrecognized one.
We can say that any biases in Lojban word-making are consistent, identifiable and to some extent measurable; however, they are probably not important.
Researchers will be able to verify this. If the biases are meaningful, linguists of the future will be able to look at Lojban and measure some resulting effect, correlating it with the known and measurable bias. If such an effect exists and can be tied to apparent Sapir-Whorf effects, it might invalidate Lojban as a test tool. Though I doubt if such biases will prove meaningful, there is always a risk that any new scientific tool may have such flaws that invalidate the research results. Lojban is such a tool and is subject to the same risks.
An essential factor in the word-making algorithm is appearance, and this is a 'market-minded' goal. The method we used gives an objective approach to word-making that eliminates personal biases, and it demonstrates a mind-set towards protecting cultural neutrality. Loglan/Lojban has attracted researchers and students by using its word-making algorithm as an obvious symbol for cultural neutrality, a symbol which your students have correctly noted is at least somewhat illusory.
2. In the design of Lojban, how were the lexical items selected? From the perspective of semiology, this is a crucial question. A sign-system constrains thought above all (or at least significantly) by virtue of the organization of experience it imposes on a community through (a) the "cultural units" or "signifieds" it defines and (b) the web of connotative relations that it establishes between these "cultural units." See the articles by Eco and the selections from Suzuki.
If one were simply to devise new signifiers, new "words," for the signifieds given by Indo-European schemas ("man," "woman," "blue," "sky," and so on), one would be producing a kind of code into which speakers could simply translate discourse already structured by a natural language like English, Spanish, or Russian.
Bob's response: First, I'll note that the first paragraph of this question assumes the validity of Sapir-Whorf; if S/W is false, then sign-systems would not constrain thought.
How were Loglan/Lojban word concepts chosen? From a variety of sources, all probably biased in their own way. The hope that we have a neutral word set derives from the variety of ways that words have come into the language, and the large number of people involved in the project over the years, have neutralized any major biases.
When we rebuilt the vocabulary for Lojban, we heavily based our concept selection on Brown's. The source of each of Brown's concepts may be buried in his notes, but has not been published. Brown has presented some of his basic ideas, though.
- Brown started with some number of root concepts that had been identified by linguists in the 50's as being found in 'all' languages.
- To this list, he apparently added the work of Ogden in creating the word list for BASIC English.
- Recognizing that linguistics hadn't dealt effectively with taboos, he added explicit roots for a variety of biological functions that tend to be primitive in every language.
- Brown did a study, using the most frequent concepts in Helen Eaton's list of the most frequent concepts in 4 European languages. While this list undoubtedly has a European bias, it served as a check on the primitive word list. Brown checked the first 3000 words of this list, and required, according to Zipf's law, that the most frequent concepts be the shortest words, i.e. primitives.
- Brown added concepts proposed by him and others rather haphazardly over a period of 30 years. Loglan thus ended up with words for 'olive', 'billiards', and 'blonde'. (An exception is that the entire collection of concepts proposed in The Loglanist between 1975 and 1982, dis- appeared without a trace when Brown rebuilt his word list in 1981-2.)
Is there bias in these methods? Yes, especially when the decisions were made by Brown alone.
Brown has expressed a strong bias towards theories that claim biological innateness or instinctiveness of certain concepts. Thus he retained concepts for father and for mother as 'biologically primitive', rather than choosing to make them as the tanru 'male-parent' and 'female-parent'. To Brown, mother is something more than 'female-parent' for biological reasons. For similar reasons, noting the wide use of human and animal body parts as the basis for metaphor in all languages, Brown decided that a large list of body parts are primitive 'biological' concepts.
The theory of biological innateness may be true; its assumption without proof is an identified bias. Because it is a known bias, it can be used positively in watching for Sapir-Whorf effects.
Brown's individual biases have been corrected, or at least ameliorated, by the extensive redevelopment of the language over the last several years.
Over time, the Eaton list analysis was expanded. This analysis gave birth to the dissenting opinion that primitive words should be selected on the basis of usefulness in making tanru, and not on some innate 'basicness'. Brown disagreed, and while he was in charge of the language, usefulness per se was not a factor unless the chosen primitive could be justified on the basis of Eaton frequency.
When we remade the words for Lojban, we accepted the 'usefulness' criterion as a primary consideration, choosing to make the gismu list a set of 'root' concepts chosen primarily for building tanru, and not a set of 'basic' concepts (more on this below in the response to jyjym.)
We reviewed Brown's list word by word, attempting to justify each in terms of either its ability to be used in tanru covering the most frequent words in the Eaton list, on one of Brown's scientific criteria, or on high frequency in the Eaton list coupled with an inability to express the concept as a tanru of other gismu. Where there was doubt, we deferred to Brown's earlier decisions, in order to enhance chances for reconciliation.
During this review, one final criteria was adopted, based on the work of Paul Doudna and others. The words were divided into semantic categories. If there were several words in a semantic category, we added other words, even if of lesser frequency, to complete the set.
Our re-evaluation actually took place at least 4 times, with concepts being added and removed. A final review against Roget's Thesaurus sought to verify that we had allowed for the entire range of semantic thought, although there is plenty of room for addition of new concepts if admissions are identified. In general, we have tried to err on the side of inclusion; the inclusion of a word does not mean that it will be used, while the exclusion of a word means that it won't be.
(Lojban development has often accomplished cultural neutrality by inclusion, rather than by exclusion. The existence of a language feature in any culture makes that feature a candidate for incorporation. Lojban thus allows many competing features as alternative expression forms; we choose one feature over another only when there is an unreconcilable conflict.)
Our gismu list, considered as 'basic concepts', could not be thought bias-free. No list could be - the very adopting of a set of words as 'basic' would bias the language towards concepts associated with those words. Lojban instead emphasizes providing 'semantic coverage' of the entire space of potential human thought, through the combination of gismu, tanru, and lujvo. The form of the word is not intended to be an indication of semantic import or primtive merit. This philosophy frees us from much excessive concern that biases in our gismu list invalidate Lojban's linguistic usefulness.
As a result, the exact mapping of the gismu to the semantic space, expressed by their use in tanru, does not yet exist. The speakers of the language will make that mapping. They will determine exactly 'what the words mean', and this will be the final elimination of a priori cultural bias from the word set.
Since Lojban's set of gismu concepts is significantly different from any other language, the semantic map that will result must also be different for this reason. Three examples follow:
- Lojban has a gismu for computer, a concept that didn't exist a hundred years ago. Clearly the Lojban semantic map of concepts related to computers must be different than any natural language.
- In kinship terminology, Lojban, possibly uniquely, has sex-neutral concepts for all kinship relationships (as well as 5 pairs of sex-linked words to allow specification of sex where it is important to a person); it also allows se- mantic distinction at the primitive level between biological parent and rearing parent, and there is even a current proposal for a gismu that would permit one to avoid making such a distinction.
- In colors, we have a set of about a dozen colors, which can be equally modified in tanru to indicate blends, or for 'pale' or 'intense'. tanru can also be made for association with physical objects (sea green vs. pea green, etc.) The size of the set of colors is towards the maximum found as 'primitive' in language.
Each of these cases should have a significant effect on the Lojban semantic map, causing it to differ from any natural language. Multiply this effect by all of the other gismu and Lojban's map will undoubtedly have patterns that we can't yet even imagine.
The best assurance that we have that Lojban will not be a code for another language is its grossly different structural basis: predicate grammar. Any Lojban predicate word (brivla) has exactly one place structure, and hence one denotation. This immediately militates against transferring connotations.
The place structure effect is especially strong when forming tanru, and hence lujvo, which will eventually form the bulk of the language vocabulary. Thus, when Michael Helsem attempts to transfer the odd English metaphor 'purple prose' to Lojban in his writings below, his tanru "zirpu lojbo" or "zirjbo" is obviously invalid for Lojban; one would have to be able to define in the place structure what chromatic aspect of the "signified" is "purple", and by what standard. Similarly, a "computer run" is not going to be expressed in Lojban as "skami bajra", which would more likely connote the 'Bionic Woman' running down the street in tennis shoes while a printer built into her back spits out digits of 'pi'.
At first, people will no doubt make such semantic transferences. But assuming that people learn to think in Lojban, it will quickly prove difficult to continue such encoding.
Meanwhile, those of us who assemble dictionaries and word lists militantly watch to prevent any obvious transference of Englishisms, our worst problem while we have mostly native English speakers. Indeed, I suspect that we have a bias against English metaphor, and are prone to turn to our Chinese dictionary to confirm any permanent choice.
Sticking with gismu place structures, we similarly avoid problems. As noted in the Esperanto discussion, "xamgu" ("good") is not a comparative. A different word ("xagmau") would be used for the comparative, and a third ("xagrai") for the superlative. But also in the concept "xamgu" is an 'observer/evaluator' who opines the property of goodness and a 'purpose/beneficiary' so that the concept is really "good for". The claim that there may be an absolute good that isn't 'for' someone or something requires a different concept, shall we call it 'virtue' for argument, that has to be a different word with a different, derived or primi- tive place structure.
The final obvious effect of predicates is the blurring between nouns, verbs, and adjectives. While this might have less drastic an effect on Chinese semantic transference, Lojban uses a single word for "caringly", "caring", "take care of", and "caretaker". While the four are obviously related in English, each has unique connotations tied to its nature as noun, verb, adjective, or adverb. In Lojban, all of those connotations which remain consistent with the single place structure are combined and blended, forming a new meaning for the predicate word "kurji".
3. One question, related to the preceding concerns, to which my students kept returning was this: will speakers of Lojban really be able to escape the "maps" of experience imposed upon them by their native languages? Will they really be able to think in Lojban, instead of translating into Lojban, and, if so, is Lojban sufficiently inter- cultural to permit its speakers to escape the "maps" that they acquired in learning their native languages?
Students were accordingly somewhat skeptical about the feasibility of an empirical test of the Whorfian Hypothesis. How, exactly, would the learning of Lojban as a second language enable the Whorfian Hypothesis to be tested? I must admit that I don't quite understand what one would test and how.
Bob's response: I think the first half the question was answered by the previous discussion. By necessity, learning to think in Lojban will require a drastic reforming of one's semantic maps beyond that achievable by translating from the native tongue.
We have no proof that "thinking in Lojban" is possible. We'll undoubtedly know within a year or two. We do have much anecdotal evidence. Lojbanists, who tend to be creative people and word-players in the first place, have habitually used Loglan/Lojban to create metaphors, then en- tertained themselves with the implications of the place structures as I did above with "computer run". Some Loglan/Lojban usages, where they most clearly express what the speaker wants, have already crept back to English. Thus Jim Brown has for years used old Loglan anaphora in English as sex-neutral pronouns, in place of various English pronouns. "malglico" and other "mal-" pejoratives are slowly coming to replace English pejoratives in Nora and my everyday English speech.
I myself have minimal experience in actually learning other languages, but I've been told that to learn a language fluently, you have to be able to 'think' in it, and adopt the 'maps' associated with the second language. In the case of Lojban, this will be a Lojbanic map - not an English one. Can a Lojbanic map be learned? Second language learners have learned new languages (and their maps) both similar and drastically different from their own. Studies of English speakers using BASIC English indicate that if the new language is too similar to the old, it is actually harder to learn the new map. The Lojban map will have some similarities with the Chinese one, since they have similar methods of compounding tanru. It is unclear whether Lojban's unique grammar will cause any problems in learning its map. I suspect not.
Whether second language learners are adequate candidates for a Sapir-Whorf test has been subject to debate. Some believe that proper use of controls will allow a significant Sapir-Whorf effect to be verified. Others believe that we won't be able to test Sapir-Whorf until we have speakers who are raised to be bilingual, or even monolingual in Lojban from birth. Such a requirement won't be viable for some years, of course (there have been small numbers of Esperanto 'native speakers', so it isn't unthinkable that Lojban will one day support 'natives', too.).
The second half, on testing Sapir-Whorf, can't be fully answered. Jim Brown proposed a flawed approach in his new edition of Loglan 1. John Parks-Clifford (pc) has written on the subject a couple of times. See JL6, JL7, and the essays at the end of the last issue JL10, for details on the topic.
Skepticism is valid and useful. We believe we've created a tool that will display Sapir-Whorf effects if there are any, and which is sufficiently independent of natural language to allow isolation of effects to determine if their cause is a Sapir-Whorf effect, or something else. The problem now is to build a speaker base, and develop the means of measuring any perceived effect and ruling out non- Sapir-Whorf causes. Skeptics are the best source of people to poke holes in inadequate methods. (I should note that pc, our most 'forward' methodologist at this point, does not believe that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is valid. Truly a healthy skepticism for an experiment like this.)
4. Once Lojban comes to be used as an instrument of communication, won't idioms naturally develop, thereby undermining its designed explicitness? The development of idioms is a natural phenomenon in any language that is actually used. And yet idioms are, arguable, the products of the culture-community of those who use a language. Wouldn't the inevitable emergence of idioms and "slang" defeat some of the purposes for which Lojban was created?
Consequently, students asked, wouldn't Lojban be contaminated by the cultures of those who used it--and, as a result, lose not only some of its explicitness and univocality, but also some of its cultural neutrality?
Bob's response: The development of idiom and slang is not well understood, although it is perceived to be uni- versal. The processes of slang development may indeed be a measurable Sapir-Whorf effect. What type of idiom, if any, develops in Lojban, and to what extent is explicitness lost? We'll certainly find out.
Lojban has, by the way, a methodology for importing words from other languages by borrowing. these words are considered '2nd class' words already, and hence slang of a sort. Yet they will be the basis for labelling foods, animals, plants, chemicals, indeed all manner of jargon words and concrete terms that have minimal semantic associations. Lojban 'slang', will, like names, probably never really acquire deep semantic associations. It will probably tend to be avoided where possible, since borrowings tend to be longer, less clear, and harder to combine into compounds, than other words.
Lojban slang, in the creative sense of the word, will probably turn towards the creation of new tanru for old ideas. In this way the basic semantic mapping will slowly drift to keep the rigid place structures in line with usage. There will probably be evolution of place structures as well, but it isn't clear how significant this will be. Probably the occurrence of such drift will be tied to the formation of that peculiarly Lojbanic culture that we discussed above.
Lojban is not, by the way, inherently explicit. It has an elaborate, carefully thought out, or at least much debated, system for ellipsis. I suspect that Lojban idiom will occur in the direction of simplification through the use of ellipsis, and that therefore, the idiom won't really mean anything other than what it says. If you want a non- idiomatic reading of the same predicate, you will fill in the non-obvious places normally omitted by the idiom.
Lojban will, to some extent, borrow idioms from natural language cultures, when those idioms are compatible with Lojban grammar and semantics. This isn't necessarily bad, as long as the borrowing isn't excessive (turning the language into a code), or linked to one particular culture (causing a bias).
Eventually, Lojban will (hopefully) indeed become a 'natural language' in the sense of having its own culture. If the culture is built by native-speaking Lojbanists, this culture would be the subject of massive sociological and linguistic experimentation, and we would know the answer on Sapir-Whorf. This indeed is the most desirable test for Sapir-Whorf, and methodology questions are generally based on the assumption that we want to know the answer before, and whether or not, such a culture comes to exist.
5. Students seemed to be obsessed with the idea that languages are contaminated (or enriched) by culture. Lojban as presented seems innocent of culture. Yet if it were to be used it would be "corrupted" by culture and would therefore escape the intentions of its architects, in particular through the emergence of idioms and slang.
Bob's response (brief for once): I hope more than anything else that Lojban grows beyond my meager conceptions and intentions for its potential, and develops its own unique culture. Language is a bigger thing than any one person or small group can control; the French Academy knows this for sure. We have resisted Brown's attempt to create a Loglan/Lojban Academy.
We hope merely to channel our loss of control away from destructive trends. But if they occur anyway, we still learn something.
6. When languages are used, webs of connotative relations emerge: every natural language reflects in this way the history of the community of those who have used it. One signified (rose) suggests another signified in another semantic field (say, romance), which suggests any number of other signifieds. See Eco, "Social Life as a Sign System." In any language actually used this web of a-logical relations would emerge. Wouldn't the emergence of such a web, in the community of speakers of Lojban, undermine its claims to be culturally neutral, fully explicit, unambiguous, and so on?
Bob's response: If the web develops totally internally, from a spontaneous cultural development, it would not violate cultural neutrality. I've already said that Lojban need not be explicit, nor, especially in the area of tanru, is Lojban semantically unambiguous. I think that we have retained enough flexibility in the creative aspects of Lojban to make the internal cultural development of such a web consistent with the areas that we have kept rigid.
Indeed, we have retained, primitives chosen by Jim Brown for body parts, animals, and materials that are metaphorically used by many cultures; yes, even 'rose'. We recognize that they are the potential seeds of bias. Because we know these words are there, we can watch for their use and guide the community away from biased use in- sofar as we can recognize it. If the canary dies, we'll be wary of poison.
7. Languages in use cannot be stabilized: they develop organically through usage by a community, adapting themselves to the needs of their speakers. Wouldn't that be the case with Lojban? What would be the consequences ofthis inevitable organic development?
Bob's response: I think this was answered in response to 4. and 5., with a little hint in the last question. While I don't see a Lojban Academy trying to prevent organic development, there may be an organization trying to keep the development moving in a positive direction. This has generally been the function of poets; more recently of English teachers.
Note that we have talked about 'baselining' the language only long enough to ensure that critical mass exists internally among speakers of the language to resist external forces for change. We don't mind change if it is done by Lojban speakers thinking in and using their language in the way they choose. That is how culture develops.
On the other hand, except in vocabulary growth, I think that linguistic drift has drastically slowed in the 20th century due to the printed word, nearly universal education, and mass communication. Where drift exists,language has tended towards uniformity among speakers rather than variation - hence the increasing use of "The Queen's English" dialect in Britain.
8. Is the syntax devised for Lojban truly culturally neutral? Derived as it was from the formal logic that has evolved in Western European culture, what claims does it have to cultural neutrality? In Whorf's essay "Science and Linguistics" (enclosed), Whorf wonders whether our logic is truly universal. Does it really derive from something other than an analysis of the shape of thought constrained by Indo-European languages like Greek, Latin, German, and English? Whorf's article implies that we would possess a very different "science" had our science been bequeathed to us by the American Indians rather than the Western Europeans.
Bob's response: Predicate logic is probably not culturally neutral, nor the assumptions that would cause it to be valued. This is the essence of Brown's original concept for Loglan/Lojban in a Sapir-Whorf experiment:that metaphysical assumptions and cultural biases be kept to a minimums so that the one extreme bias causes an undeniably significant change.
Since Brown started, we've identified other potential sources of Sapir-Whorf effects, most notably the elimination of constraints on thought that develops from our minimization of metaphysical assumptions (like singular/plural and us/them distinctions). These effects WOULD BE culturally neutral, and probably would show up in spite of minor biases other than the big 'L' logic bias.
(John Parks-Clifford notes that the content of formal logic, if not the exact form, was independently derived in India and to a lesser extent in China. Every problem in Western logic turned up and was solved in India. Chinese logical thought was equally sophisticated, but its development was aborted after only a few decades, by political turmoil rather than by direct cultural rejection, and never re-emerged. Meanwhile, the Western form embraces contributions from Arabic as well as European sources. Logic was chosen as the basis for Lojban due to its simplicity of structure as well as for predictably significant Sapir-Whorf effects.)
Note that while logic is not the only strong force guiding Lojban development that stems from Western thought.Other forces include the counters to logic such as 'liberty', 'free choice', and 'romantic ideals'. Funny that no one worries about these forces destroying Lojban's cultural neutrality. Maybe we should.
For that matter, as this question implies, modern science and the interest in the question of whether the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is true also are based on Western tradition.
I think this type of question should be left for the philosophers, who may come up with a useful answer.Otherwise, in the extreme, we end up questioning whether the fact that we do our science the way we do causes the universe we observe to change, making the observations, and the science thus invalid. Sort of a Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle on a grand scale.
Science is valuable as an endeavor if it gives useful results. Does knowing more about the nature of language give useful results? If Lojban is a language, will studying it teach us more about language? Does the fact that we've defined some measurable control on the design of the language improve the chances that we can learn useful information from study Lojban? If the answer to these questions is 'yes', then Lojban will be worthwhile as a project, and valuable to those who learn it, those who study it, and the world that will be affected by it.
Course Outline and Bibliography
Robert Gorsch January, 1990
An Introduction to Semiology
Marshall Blonsky, ed., On Signs (Baltimore, 1985): selections from Blonsky's collection will be marked with the letter "B" in the schedule.
Other readings to be distributed in class: these readings will be marked with an asterisk (*) in the schedule.
M Jan 8/
THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS
T Jan 9/
INTRODUCTION: SOCIAL LIFE AS A SIGN SYSTEM
- *Umberto Eco, "social Life as a Sign System," from David Robey, ed., Structuralism: An Introduction (1973), pp. 57-72.
- *Pierre Guiraud, Semiology (1975), pp. 1-4 and 82-98.
THE WHORFIAN HYPOTHESIS: LANGUAGES AS WAYS OF SEEING
- *Benjamin Whorf, "Science and Linguistics" (1940), Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, ed. John B. Carroll (1956), pp. 207-219.
- *Clyde Kluckhohn, "The Gift of Tongues," Mirror for Man (1949); rpt. in Introductory Readings on Language, Fourth Edition (1974), ed. Wallace L. Anderson and N. C. Stageberg, pp. 38-47.
W Jan 10/
- Umberto Eco, "How Culture Conditions the Colours We See," B 157-715.
- *Anthony G. Wheeler, "Pitfalls of Perception," The Skeptical Inquirer, Summer, 1988; rpt. in The Utne Reader, Sept./Oct. 1989, p. 100.
HOW LANGUAGES WORD AS SIGN-SYSTEMS
- F. de Sussure, Course in General Linguistics, pp. 7-17, 65-78, 111-122.
- Takao Suzuki, Words in Context: A Japanese Perspective on Language and Culture (1984), pp. 7-44.
Th Jan 11/
ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGES: THE ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE CULTURE:
- Read these selections in the order indicated. Try to get a sense of how each of these languages sounds and how each "works" as a way of expressing ideas. Where the texts tell you how to pronounce words and phrases, try it on your own. Where the readings provide texts in the languages and literal translation, examine these carefully. In examining the Esperanto passages look for words that you recognize from your knowledge of English, Spanish, French, and other European languages.
- *George Cox, "Preface to the First Edition" and "L'Espero," A Grammar and Commentary on the International Language Esperanto, Second Edition, pp. v-xvii and xx-xxi.
- *Arthur Baker, "The Alphabet," "Sounds," and "Exercise 1," The American Esperanto Book (1907), pp. 7-11 and 78-80.
- *Baker, "Rules of the Grammar," pp. 12-18.
- *Cox, "Conversation (Interparolado)," pp. 311-315.
- *Don Oldenburg, "Tongue-Twister of a Language," San Francisco Chronicle: Sunday punch, Nov. 26, 1989.
- *James Cooke Brown, "Loglan," Scientific American, June, 1960, pp. 52-63.
- *The Logical Language Group, "What is Lojban? (la lojban mo)," 1989.
- *The Logical Language Group, "Translation of Lesson 6 Reading Text: lenu vitke lei rarna (Visiting Nature)," [Lojban Textbook] (1989), 6.43-6.46.
M Jan 15/
- DUE: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Hand in a xerox of your annotated bibliography (keep a copy for yourself).
- Consult the Borzoi Handbook to refresh your memory on the proper form for entries in a bibliography. Annotate each entry: after reviewing the item, briefly describe it and explain how it might be useful to you in your investigation.
- A MODEL OF COMMUNICATION
- *Guiraud, Semiology, pp. 5-21.
- T. Sebeok, "Pandora's Box: How and Why to Communicate 10,000 Years into the Future," B 448-466.
- *Guiraud, Semiology, pp. 5-21.
- M. Blonsky, first part of "Endword," B 505-7 (to middle of the page).
T Jan 16/
- SEMIOLOGY AS A METHOD OF ANALYSIS
- New York Times, "What's the real message of 'Casablanca'? Or of a Rose?" B 424-5.
- Wlad Godzich, "The Semiotics of Semiotics," B 421-26 only (you need not read beyond Sec. 2: "On Cowboy Boots").
- M. Blonsky, "When Cains of Difference Intersect: A Lesson," B 441-43.
- Umberto Eco, "Casablanca, or the Cliches are Having a Ball," B 35-38. (Think of Who Killed Roger Rabbit?, as well as Casablanca, if you have seen them.)
- REPORTS (Second Half)
W Jan 17/
- SOCIAL LIFE AS A SIGN SYSTEM
- *P. Guiraud, Semiology, 82-98: review.
- *Eco, "Social Life as a Sign System": review.
- INTRODUCTION TO BODY LANGUAGE
- *Charles Downey, "A Guide to No-Fail Flirting," San Francisco Chronicle, May 17,1989.
- *E. T. and M. R. Hall, "The Sounds of Silence" (1971); rpt. in Introductory Readings on Language (1975), ed. Anderson and Stageberg, pp. 318-29.
- *Leonard W. Doob, "Communication in Africa" (1961), rpt. in Introductory Readings on Language (1975), ed. Anderson and Stageberg, pp. 330-35.
- REPORTS (Second half)
Th Jan 18/
- READING OTHER CULTURES
- Jean Franco, "Killing Priests, Nuns, Women, Children," B 414-20
- M. Blonsky, "The Way of Masks," B 186-87.
- *E. T. and M. R. Hall, "The Sounds of Silence"
- *Leonard W. Doob, "Communication in Africa."
- REPORTS (Second half)
M Jan 22/
- LOOKING AT MODERN CULTURE: BECOMING AWARE OF "CULTURE"
- P. Guiraud, Semiology, pp. 99-104.
- Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1972), pp. 9-12, 50-52, 58-64, 84-87, and 109-31.
- REPORTS (Second half)
T Jan 23/
- U. Eco, "Strategies of Lying," B 3-11.
- Edmundo Desnoes, "Cuba Made Me So," B 384-402.
- M. Blonsky, "Introduction . . .," B xxvii-xxxv and xl-xliv.
- REPORTS (Second half)
W Jan 24/
- MARKETING AS APPLIED SEMIOLOGY
- M. Blonsky, "Semiotics in the Marketplace," B 434-5.
- Milton Glaser, "I Listen to the Market, " B 467-75.
- Ronald Weintraub, "Lifting the Veil," B 475-480.
- M. Blonsky, "Endword," B 505-11.
- Matthew Klein, "And Above All, Please Do Not Disturb," B 481-87.
- REPORTS (Second half)
Th Jan 25/
- HOW THE MEDIA (RE-)CREATE THE EVENTS THEY REPORT
- Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, "Electronic Ceremonies: Television Performs a Royal Wedding," B 16-32.
- REPORTS (Second half)
M Jan 29/
T Jan 29/
W Jan 29/
Th Feb 1/ SIGN-SYSTEMS: CULTURE-BOUND WAYS OF SEEING
Robert Scholes, "Is There a Fish in This Text?" B 308-320.
Michel de Certeau, "The Jabbering of Social Life," B 146-54.
The following was written by Ralph Dumain over a year ago. We haven't printed it until now, because, as a bibliography relating to Sapir-Whorf, it is incomplete in omitting some of the basic references needed to understand what the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is. Dr. Gorsch's course outline at least partially remedies this. Readers seeking more on Sapir-Whorfshould also investigate the bibliography of either edition of Loglan 1.
Bibliography on Language and Thought
by Ralph Dumain
The question of the relation of thought to language is a multifaceted one and has been approached by such disciplines as philosophy, linguistics proper, sociology of language, sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, and educational policy.
This selected bibliography is not representative of the field of language and cognition as a whole, nor of its historical evolution, nor of its most current work, nor of its most significant contributions. I have selected, in a nonsystematic way, works which illustrate different angles from which the issue may be considered and which illuminate the problems to be confronted. This bibliography reflects my interest in the high-level aspects of language and cognition, e.g.. the strong version of Whorf's hypothesis [the world view issue], particularly the human ability to formulate and critique concepts. For me, the issue of the ability to form and interrelate abstract concepts is exclusively an issue of semantics. The practical and political issue is the mastery of word meanings and the conquest of the opacity of semantic systems.
Omitted are works by William Labov and Basil Bernstein, two of the foremost researchers of the 1960's on issues of cognitive ability and social dialects. Bernstein was a pioneer in the comparison of standard English vs. British working class dialects, the formulation of the notions of elaborated and restricted code, and the investigation of different uses of language as social reinforcements. Labov presented a wealth of ethnographic data to prove that ghetto-dwelling Black Americans using so-called Black English were perfectly capable of abstract thinking, refuting assertions to the contrary. Labov also used transformational-generative grammar to analyze the syntax of Black English and to refute superstitions about linguistic deficiency.
Besides paying more attention to recent developments in linguistic theory, one must also delve into the pragmatics of language more thoroughly, where much of the hidden dynamics of language and social control lie. There is much in the literature of philosophy, especially philosophy of science, that bears upon the tacit assumptions of Loglan ideologists about the nature of language, the limits to thought, the role of formal logic, and the nature of creativity and novelty in the progress of thought.
Bisseret, Noelle (1979) - Education, Class Language and Ideology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
- Bisseret examines the views of sociologists of language who analyze class dialects, such as Basil Bernstein.Bisseret asserts that the logicality and coherence of the world belong to the dominant class.
Carroll, John B. (1964) - Language and Thought. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. See chapter 7: "Language and cognition", esp. the section "The linguistic-relativity hypothesis" (p. 106-110).
- Carroll is skeptical of the strong Whorfian thesis. Evidence is lacking that grammatical differences between languages signify cognitive differences. He gives examples to show misleading extrapolations based only on linguistic evidence.
Chomsky, Noam (1973) - See Schaff, Adam.
Friedrich, Paul (1979) - Language, Context, and the Imagination: Essays by Paul Friedrich, selected and introduced byAnwar S. Dil. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Friedrich disagrees with Whorf's views on language and metaphysics, but accepts the strong thesis in the realm ofpoetic language and its relation to the imagination.
Gyekye, Kwame (1977) - "Akan language and the materialist thesis: a short essay on the relation between philosophy and language", in Studies in Language, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 237-244.
- Gyekye opposes linguistic relativity in philosophy. Examples are given of mentalistic linguistic expressions in English which are expressed physicalistically in Akan. A linguistic relativist would conclude that the Akan people are materialists, yet Akan ontology is actually dualistic, with an absolute distinction between body and soul.
Havranek, Bohuslav (1964) - "The functional differentiation of the standard language", in: A Prague School Reader on Esthetics, Literary Structure, and Style, selected and translated from Czech by Paul L. Garvin. Washington: Georgetown University Press; p. 3-16.
- On lexical and syntactic aspects of standard vs. folk speech, different modes of utilization of the devices of language, intellectualization, automatization and foregrounding. Intellectualization of language makes possible precision, rigor, and abstractness. Syntactic devices enable an integrated structure of sentences. Automatization is the creation of conventional expressions with definite meanings; once established, an automatization does not attract attention to itself linguistically. Foregrounding is the use of language (usually uncommon) that attracts attention to itself, e.g.. live poetic metaphor. An expression automatized in one context may be foregrounded in another. Automatizations of science are different from those in conversation.
- This article is important for two complementary reasons: (1) It proposes requisites of intellectual language,especially the ability to express abstractions, which I believe is the key issue in being able to formulate and change one's world view; (2) automatization, in creating conventional expressions, not only makes possible the expression of concepts, but an automatization as such is no longer metaphorically alive and so no longer binds a thought to its particular linguistic expression (thus negating a putative Whorfian limitation on thought).
- Foregrounding is relevant to Loglan because as Loglan is entirely new, there are no cliches, no tiresome or worn expressions. Loglan seems poetic to some of its propagandists because the entire language is foregrounded. What might otherwise be banal seems to be exquisitely poetic. Whorf foregrounded Hopi grammar, making it a source of live metaphors for him if not for the Hopi themselves.
Jackendoff, Ray (1983) - Semantics and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Deals with grammatical constraint, semantic structure and conceptual structure, and theory of representation. This reference is included not as an endorsement of a particular semantic theory but as an example of one of the more sophisticated recent treatments of semantics.
Kahane, Henry and Renee (1984) - "Linguistic aspects of sociopolitical keywords", in Language Problems and Language Planning, vol. 8, no. 2, p. 143-160.
- The Kahanes examine the semantics of ideologically loaded words (keywords) and the processes by which they evolve over time. I think that ideological semantic systems create the most crucial biases in language, and so this article is important.
Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1980) - Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- The authors make an important study of the metaphorical basis of language. In the final chapters they argue for an extreme relativism.
Langacker, Ronald W. (1976) - "Semantic representations and the linguistic relativity hypothesis", in Foundations of Language, vol. 14, p. 307-357.
- Langacker tries to formulate the hypothesis in a non-vacuous manner, and ultimately rejects the strong version,basing himself on a distinction between primary conceptual structures and the semantic representations into which thought is coded. Langacker uses the framework of generative semantics.
Levitas, Maurice (1974) - Marxist Perspectives in the Sociology of Education. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Seechapter 7: "Language and deprivation"
- Levitas articulates the basic ideas of Vygotsky's view of language and thought and its educational implications.He accepts Vygotsky's view that word-meaning is the unit of verbal thought. Using Vygotsky and Luria, Levitas argues that working class children must be helped to master the elaborated code and to achieve in linguistic expression freedom from the context.
Macnamara, John. 1970. "Bilingualism and thought", in Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1970: Bilingualism and Language Contact, edited by James E. Alatis; Washington: Georgetown University Press; p.25-45.
- Includes discussion by other participants. The inadequacies of Whorf's formulations are analyzed. Macnamara urgently emphasizes the need for a semantic theory.
Newmeyer, Frederick J. (1983) - Grammatical Theory: Its Limits and Its Possibilities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Newmeyer clarifies the nature and intent of generative linguistics, answering common objections. Newmeyer deals with distinctive advantages of generative linguistics, its potential applications, and the role of other types of linguistics that deal with aspects of language outside of the reach of grammatical theory.
______ (1986a) - The Politics of Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- This is an excellent treatment of the history of linguistics and its internal and external politics. Newmeyer attacks Whorf's notions about grammar and world view and gives practical examples of Whorfianism's racist implications.
______ (1986b) - Linguistic Theory in America. 2nd edition. Orlando: Academic Press, Inc.
- This differs from the first edition in that it abridges treatment of earlier developments such as rise of abstract syntax and generative semantics in the late 1960's while adding information on recent developments. This book gives a feel for the problems and evolution of theories, and shows how the rise and fall of competing theories or versions of a theory come about as responses to real problems. A reader can also see that Chomsky's particular theoretical formulations form only part (and not always the most influential current) of the stream of modern linguistic theory.
Rossi-Landi, Ferruccio (1973) - Ideologies of Linguistic Relativity. The Hague: Mouton.
- This book analyzes the shortcomings of and the ideology behind the doctrine of linguistic relativity, including the white liberal guilt about Indians.
Schaff, Adam (1973) - Language and Cognition. Translated by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz; edited by Robert S. Cohen;introduction by Noam Chomsky. New York: McGraw-Hill. [Originally published in Polish, 1964.]
- Chomsky's introduction is a valuable critique of Whorf and of superficial understanding of languages. He shows that the imputation to a language of a conceptual system about time based on its tense system does not hold up to examination. The English tense system with its use of verbal auxiliaries (including modals) suggests a different conception of time than idea of time characteristic of modern English-speaking and other European peoples.
- Schaff gives a history of ideas (mostly in philosophy) about language and thought from 18th century German idealism, through Neo kantianism, conventionalism, logical positivism, to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and then adds his own thoughts on the matter. Brown's Scientific American article on Loglan is referenced in the bibliography but is not mentioned in the text.
Vygotsky, Lev (1986) - Language and Thought. 2nd edition. Translation newly revised and edited by Alex Kozulin.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Vygotsky was a pioneer in the area of developmental psychology, language and thought.
I said in one response to Robert Gorsch's class questions that I hoped that Lojban would move beyond the ideas that I had for it. It already has. The following essay describes a potential use for Lojban that I never had thought of,and have absolutely no experience that would help me form an opinion on its viability.
So I won't. Let's let David speak for himself. I welcome other's comments on his ideas, and I'll print any that seem of general interest.
Lojban and Stream of Consciousness Writing
by David C. Morrow
Stream of consciousness, or subjective writing, was developed by Joyce, Proust, Woolf, Faulkner, and others to convey a character's immediate awareness and mental activities (an "interior monolog"). Leon Edel, who terms works using it "Modern Psychological Novels," lists four salient elements.
Each work or section of a work takes the consistent viewpoint of a single character. The reader must puzzle out what is happening from the character's interior monolog. Time moves according to the associations of the character's thoughts and memories rather than a simple linear flow. Finally, although authors using this mode are realists, these very devices force them to be symbolists in order to create the impression of being alive.
It is the second and fourth elements that present problems for author and reader. Part of the difficulty is that persons whose background enables them to enjoy piecing together the subtle but objective clues of mystery novels may not be so adept at empathizing with other's feelings or seeing the clues that reveal them. About that the writer can do little but keep following (or decide not to follow) his or her artistic bent.
But these complex puzzles hold difficulties even for persons who enjoy them that their creators may not have foreseen. It is hard enough to show the thoughts of individuals contemporary to a reader; when a novel has become non contemporary, like those of the writers mentioned above, or is about an earlier time (consider McKinlay Kantor's Andersonville, written in the 1950's and intended to represent the consciousness of participants in the War Between the States) the difficulty is increased.
This is because, for example, few modern persons depend on horses for transportation and so most lack the associations with them or the knowledge of their behavior that must have been common to people at and before the turn of the Twentieth Century. The same might apply to candles or to certain foods. Again, the little sidelines of style and fashion, the political and social quirks and nuances of a time, like geographical localisms, would figure large in the mind of a participant yet disappear even from historical footnotes.
Even if a storyteller can discover and work there into a character's mind, they may require as much explanation as unfamiliar elements in an old text. During the 1982 and 1986 episodes of murder by poisoned Tylenol capsules, offering someone -- stranger, boss, spouse -- that medicine carried a host of special if temporary meanings. To one not alive then, the unexplained appearance of such an incident in a story set in those years would be puzzling.
The same thing must apply even to ordinary narrative writing about members of another culture; the readers may not be as familiar with that life-way as the author. This often forces the artist to employ what are supposed to be common human traits, such as romantic love, that may not be common at all; Classical cultures regarded romantic love as a form of lunacy.
Historical writers, who are nearly always depicting foreign cultures even when their setting is the recognizable antecedent of the readers' own, generally commit such anachronisms. Often they make their story accessible by depicting "progressive" characters in rebellion against their culture. That device is an anachronism in most cases, since tolerance even of one's own nonconformity is largely a Modern Western value.
Subjective writing might serve better in depicting social changes. One might wish to show why history took this turn once and another when a like situation again arose, or to examine through the eyes of characters, who likely did not intend their actions' present results, the origin of some philosophical or religious idea. An example of this last might be someone who realized that human sacrifice does not necessarily make the crops grow or that paternity is part of reproduction.
Such persons' concepts and motives would differ so vastly from ours that even were an author to reconstruct their consciousness with a degree of accuracy, the story value would be lost because it would be difficult for readers to untangle them without corresponding scholarship. Unless, that is, there were also some such way of clarifying them as anchoring description in physical reality as we know it.
When a character in a subjective narrative lacks knowledge or understanding the author may juxtapose some other person's viewpoint or even an omniscient one. Faulkner used both to clarify his retarded character Benjy's innocent and atemporal impressions, and Durrell provided an entire volume of his Quartet with the omniscient viewpoint on one character.
This would not be enough in many cases. If the characters have very primitive ideas, believing, say, that the sun is a beetle or that there is no natural death but that everyone always dies of injury or sorcery, then much of their thinking -- the internal monolog comprising the story narrative -- would seem ridiculous or psychotic if not incomprehensible. In this case it would not help to play one character's consciousness off against another's, since they would all share the same assumptions even if their intellects differed. The use of a deliberate anachronism would only work for current readers, even when dealing with contemporary characters, since nobody can know with what values or types future readers will identify. Only objective narrative of some type will enable one to make such a tale both universal and particular.
This is where Lojban can be useful. A writer could use a natural language to construct a symbolic flow of consciousness belonging to the characters, filled with verifiable and if necessary imagined elements, impressions, feelings, and motives. Linguistic devices can be used, and purely idiosyncratic character traits developed within a strange conceptual frame.
To clarify what is objectively happening or convey meanings of invented symbols and transitory elements without interrupting the story's dramatic movement, and do so in a way that will (we hope) remain accessible to future readers, the writer can use lojban to describe the physical setting, the movements, the actions, even in some cases the dialog of the characters whose interior monolog is in some artificially specialized form of English -- or French, or Spanish, or whatever. Lojban descriptions may either be given in separate chapters or sections, or interspersed with the streams of characters' awareness.
Not only would this provide the readers an anchor in relating the characters' minds to theirs, but also in the case of completely abnormal persons in alien cultures allow insight into their minds. Finally, the story could retain its unity as an artistic whole without anachronisms or intrusions from outside.
le lojbo se ciska
by Michael Helsem
All of this issue's Lojban writing comes from one person. This is partially due to space and time, and partially because Michael Helsem has been so prolific in Lojban over the past few months. Michael has taken to heart what I've said too many times: the language is easy to learn if you just try to use it. The writings in this issue prove that point.
You've seen a couple pieces of Michael's work in JL10, written before Michael ordered the textbook lessons last fall. Michael wrote the following after reading Lesson 4, which calls for a student to write a self-description; it wasn't particularly grammatical, as you'll see in the translation section which shows what he actually wrote. We didn't get a chance to provide feedback to Michael until after JL10 was out.
When Michael received JL10 in late January, he had still not had direct feedback from us. However, seeing his own article saying that Lojban could be used to write poetry, Michael took up his own challenge. We had 2 limericks and 2 longer poems in February. Although he had merely finished the lessons, the JL10 samples gave Michael enough good examples of good Lojban that I had only to change two or three words in each to make the grammar correct. These poems are also printed below.
Finally we responded to Michael's self-description with Nora's detailed review, which is given in the translation section. I have since gotten a letter from Michael every week or two - 2 or 3 pages handwritten in Lojban (with interlinear translations - please don't send me untranslated Lojban until we both know that you are writing nearly error free. Otherwise, if your Lojban isn't close to correct, we'll get extremely confused, and if it's reasonably close, we won't be able to comment on subtle shades of meaning - we have to take the Lojban as meaning what you intend). The lot includes a couple more poems, and a couple of typewritten sheets of 'poetic tanru'. While there are occasional malglico anglicisms, Michael has in 6 months and about 5 or 6 writing attempts become about as good a Lojban writer as there is outside of those few of us working on defining the language.
Michael has done this only with the level 3 materials including only the 6 textbook lessons so far published, and the outdated cmavo list. While he has studied other languages, Michael is not a linguist. He does not have LogFlash or flash cards - he's learning the vocabulary by using it. But I don't mind it a bit if someone gets a word wrong because they don't yet know it. You can't learn a language without making mistakes and learning from them.
It's that easy - you have to be willing to try writing a couple times, and wait for us to review them (which will get easier as we get more of you up to Michael's level of proficiency), read the examples printed in these newsletters, and then write a little more - in a few months you'll be writing as good Lojban as Michael is (no - I'm not promising to make you a publishable poet in a couple of months - just a reasonably competent Lojbanist).
So let's see some more Lojban from the 100 other level 3 Lojbanists, most of whom I haven't heard from.
Self-Description (28 Sept 1989)
.i di'e du lu'a le ve seirskicu poi mi pu ciska sepu'a lemi bazi ckupra .itu'e ko'a goi la maiky'elsym. me la'e zoi.zy. gnostik .zy. gi'e jbeta'uxa'u la delys. .i baziki lenu ko'a jbena kei da'i so'i finpe pu farlu fi le tsani.ibabo ca le ko'a pacimoi nanca ko'a se darxi lo karce gi'e ba stali nenri lo roktu'u ca ze'e ta'e so'o masti .ibabotezu'enai leza'i cfari zvati le bancycu'e tai lo tadni pe loi ratske kei ko'a mulno gi'e te dunda lo ckulypikta pe loikavidni cu'i .ibabo ko'a litru re tumplita lu'a .i kiku ca'o ko'a pu vi'o zgikei lo skami .e lo damri vau .ui to ji'a caranji toi .i ko'a no'u lo tadni pe la vitgenctain. .e la'i latmo rampemcyzba ge'u o'o paroi pu lifri lenu tirna lenuko'a se pifyzifydi'a lo rupnu be li panononono .uecai .iri'o ko'a pujeca zbasu so'i cimpi'a ne pa'a lei pemci gi'e pufinti pa rapnerpluja clacku ri'i .isa'u ki ca ku ko'a ne pa'a leko'a ractu no'u me'e zo byroz. sei ta'o rinalcumselfanva valselkei se'u cu xabju la .ok. klif. no'u lo jarbu vau tu'u .i .ia ro leivi jufra cu vasru su'opa leci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
.i mi stali ledo memi tai loi zirjbo .i co'o
Included in the self-description letter, was a postscript, also in Lojban:
ni'o ca'o di'e cu me la'e zoi zy haiku zy me'e lu ca le puzi cerni li'u .i tu'e
fi le pamoi stapa ra'i le ckana .oi fa mi pu catra lo jalra
tu'u .i ke'u fe'o
The first two limericks were Michael's first attempts at original Lojban poetry after the self-description. They each needed a little work, but his errors were minor. He wasn't too happy with the changes to the first one, since they end up stretching the rhyme and rhythm scheme to the limit of what is acceptable in a limerick. However, if you readwith the annotated stress given in the pronunciation guide, running the syllables together into a single beat where marked (or in one case running three syllables into two beats).
1. (As corrected)
la .uorf. .e la saPIR. pu pensi lenu loi rembangu lei mensi cu simsa leka lanzu gi'e pamei nalbanzu .i ku'i leva sidbo ca genytsi /lah .WOHRF. .eh,lah,sah,PEER. poo,PEHN,see/ - / ----,---- / - / - /leh,NOO loi,rehm,BAHN,goo,lei,MEHN,see/ - / - - / - - / - /shoo SEEM,sah leh,kah LAHN,zoo/ - / - ----- / - /gee,heh,PAH,mei nahl,BAHN,zoo/ ----- / - - / - /. ee KOO,hee,leh,vah,SEED,bo,ca GEHN,uh,tsee/ - / - ----- / - - / ------
2. (Minor corrections approved by author)
loi ve cusku cu mo loi se cusku cumda'i .i mi danfu lu le sisku cu nitcu pa jaspu .uu .i ku'i na vasru fa ri rixiCI pe'i li'u /loi,veh,SHOOS,koo,shoo,MO,loi,seh,SHOOS,koo/ ----- / - - / - - / - /shoom,DAH,hee . ee,mee DAHN,foo loo,leh,SEES,koo/ - / - ----- / - ---- / - /shoo,NEE,choo,pah,ZHAHS,poo/ - / - - / - /.woo.ee KOO,hee,nah,VAHS,roo/ ---- / - - / - /fah,REE ree,khee,SHEE peh,hee LEE,hoo/ - / - - / - - / -
3. (20 Mar 1990)
The third limerick was written after I gave him feedback on the first two, and received while I was typing thisnewsletter in. It was almost perfect as written. He had left out a "cu" and not terminated some "nu" clauses -mistakes I still make a lot - but his translation and his notes on intent made it trivial to fix them.
sei lu leka sarcu li'u cmene ni'o lo cizra zasmunje lo'e skami cu nenri .i RA mi se prami .i ku'i le pratci cu nu sisti kei batci le nunmenxru .uu TA'i loi glaslami /sei,loo leh,kah,SAHR,shoo lee,hoo,SHMEH,neh nee,ho/ /lo,SHEEZ,rah,zah,SMOON,zheh lo,heh,SKAH,mee/ - / - - / - ---- / - /shoo,NEHN,ree . ee,RAH mee,seh,PRAH,mee/ - / - - / - - / - /. ee KOO,hee,leh,PRAH,chee/ - / - - / - /shoo,noo,SEES,tee,kei,BAH,chee/ ----- / - - / - /leh,noon,MEHN,khroo . woo TA,hee loi,glah,SLAH,mee/ ----- / - - / - ------ / -
The first of these is Michael's translation from the Latin of Catallus, which he wrote on 26 Nov 1989, prior to receiving any feedback from us. His grammar had already improved significantly over the self-description, with most ofhis mistakes being wrong choices of cmavo.
seide'e se sanga bimumoi ni'o prami joi xebni fa mi .i lu la'edi'u ki'a vau li'u do nu'o cusku .i mi genai caca jimpe la'ede'u gi ru'i lifri cai je dunku ri /sei,deh,heh seh,SAHN,gah bee,MUU,moi . nee,ho/ /PRAH,mee,zhoi,KHEHB,nee fah,mee/ /. ee,LOO lah,heh,DEE,hoo kee,hah,vau LEE,hoo/ /doh noo,ho SHOOS,koo . ee mee/ /geh,nai . SHAH,shah,ZHEEM,peh lah,heh,DEH,hoo/ /gee,roo,hee LEE,free SHAI zheh/ /DOON,koo ree/
The next two poems were written at about the same time as the first two limericks (10 Feb 1990). These, however, are poems of some substance. For whatever reason, Michael made fewer and less serious errors in the longer poems than in the limericks:
di'e lojbo pemci gi'e se cmene lu le firgai pu'u se vimcu vau li'u .i tu'e fe zo pei ca rapcpedu cai fa mi .ei ne tai do pe pu fi mi fo po'i loi so'iplo senta .i mi vimcu ro lei firgai levi sluni po'u lonu djica .ice'o ju'ido'u rixire mujytisybanro po'a .iku'i pu najenai ca ku mi djuno leri cumyme'e .e lejei ri se skicu fo po'i lonu kansa kazmaksi .a lo nalsti nu fasnu cictcima po'a .a sa'u pa drata nu ka bebna tu'u /dee,heh LOHZH,bo,PEHM,shee gee,heh seh,SHMEH,neh LOO/ /leh,FEER,gai poo,hoo,seh,VEEM,shoo vau,LEE,hoo/ /.ee,too,heh/ /feh zo,PEI shah,rahp,SHPEH,doo SHAI/ /fah,MEE .EI neh,tai,DOH,peh,poo fee,mee/ /fo,poh,hee loi,so,HEE,plo SEHN,tah/ /.ee,mee,VEEM,shoo ro,lei,FEER,gai leh,vee/ /SLOO,nee po,hoo lo,noo,JEE,shah . ee,SHEH,ho/ /ZHOO,hee,doh,hoo ree,khee,REH moo,zhuh,tee,suh,BAHN,ro po,hah/ /. ee,koo,hee POO nah,zheh,nai SHAH,ku/ /mee,JOO,no leh,ree shoo,muh,MEH,heh/ /. eh leh,zhei ree seh,SKEE,shoo/ /fo po,hee lo,noo,KAHN,sah kah,ZMAHK,see/ /. AH lo,NAHL,stee noo,FAHS,noo sheesh,CHEE,mah/ /po,hah . AH,sah,hoo pah,DRAH,tah noo,kah,BEHB,nah/
In the following, Michael came close to perfection in grammar. He omitted only the hyphen 'r's in "caircinla", and the "mei" in the final line, while inserting a couple of superfluous but permitted "ke"s that I left in to avoid changing his sound qualities any more than necessary (plus - as an editor, I prefer to defer to the author where possible). Of course, Michael's result differs slightly in meaning from the translation he gave me; however, since it is supposed to be Lojban poetry, I'm letting the Lojban take precedence over the English, although I'll mention the changes needed to match his English translation in the appropriate section below.
di'e se cmene lu loika zvati vau li'u .i tu'e ti'e lonu zgana be lemu'e ke lunra ka cuklymulno cu xamgu .iku'i mi drata salci lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla .i mi ckini ri leka manku .e lo mipri nu zasti .e .a'u lenu ka vlipa po'u piro lo te pencu be le munje se rinka .i ca lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla ku le lunra cukla cu binxo leri pamei zgana .i mi go'i gi'e ku'i roroi pubi'ica zgana lemi ka nomei ji'a tu'u /dee,heh seh,SHMEH,neh LOO/ /loi,kah,ZVAH,tee vau,LEE,hoo/ /.ee,too,heh/ /tee,heh lo,noo,ZGAH,nah/ /beh leh,MOO,heh ke,LOON,rah/ /kah,shoo,kluh,MOOL,no shoo,KHAHM,goo/ /. ee,KOO,hee mee,DRAH,tah,SAHL,shee/ /leh,MOO,heh keh,LOON,rah kah shai,r,SHEEN,lah/ /. ee mee,SKEE,nee,ree leh,kah,MAHN,koo/ /. eh,lo MEE,pree,noo,ZAH,stee . eh . ah,hu/ /leh,noo kah,VLEE,pah po,hoo ro,lo/ /teh,PEHN,shoo beh,leh,MOON,zheh,seh,REEN,kah/ /. ee,shah leh,MOO,heh keh,LOON,rah kah shai,r,SHEEN,lah/ /koo leh,LOON,rah,SHOO,klah shoo,BEEN,kho/ /leh,ree PAH,mei,ZGAH,nah/ /. ee mee,GO,hee gee,heh,koo,hee,RO,roi/ /poo bee,hee,shah,ZGAH,nah leh,mee,kah,NO,mei zhee,hah/ /too,hoo/
The following was dated 12 Mar 1990. It was perfectly grammatical as written, although we've changed two lujvo minimally after discussion with Michael.
di'e se cmene lu mela saPIR. .uorf. li'u .i tu'e ko leido se mipri le sutrai nalmorji ca dunda .i lo narju joi rijno fasnu ba snuji ro lei drata .i zo'e tagji logji tu'u /dee,heh seh,SHMEH,neh LOO/ /meh,lah sah,PEER . wohrf . lee,hoo/ /.ee,too,heh/ /ko lei,doh,seh,MEEP,ree leh/ /SOOT,rai,nahl,MOR,zhee,shah,DOON,dah/ /. ee,lo,NAHR,zhoo zhoi,REEZH,no/ /FAHS,noo,bah,SNOO,zhee ro,lei,DRAH,tah/ /. ee zo,heh TAHG,zhee,LOHG,zhee/ /too,hoo/
Michael has also sent me a couple of pages that he's created as exercises in making tanru and lujvo, but I'll save them for next issue.
Translations of le lojbo se ciska
Orig: ke'u coi
Rev : ke'u coi
Tran: Again, Greetings!
Orig: di'e du lu'a le ve seinskicu noi mi pu ciska sepu'a lemi bazi ckupra
Rev : .i di'e du lu'a le ve seirskicu poi mi pu ciska sepu'a lemi bazi ckupra
Tran: The following has-the-same-identity-as, loosely speaking, the self-description which I write to-please my imminent book-producer.
"seinskicu" vs. "seirskicu": You must glue on a CVV to the front of any lujvo, unless there are only two terms and the second term is a CCV. The 'glue' is a vocalic 'r' unless the second rafsi begins with "r", in which case use vocalic 'n'.
"noi" vs. "poi": "poi" says the following gives further information to identify WHICH self-description is being talked about; "noi" assumes you know which self-description is being talked about, and just gives incidental information about it. See Less. 5 & 6.
Orig: .i tu'e ko'a goi la maikl. 'elsym. du lo lea zoi zy gnostik zy joi lo vazyjbe xabju be la delys.
Rev : .i tu'e ko'a goi la maiky'elsym. me la'e zoi .zy. gnostik .zy. gi'e jbeta'uxa'u la delys.
Tran: (Long scope beginning) He, standing for Michael Helsem, is a-referrent-of "gnostik" and (is) a born-city- inhabitant of Dallas.
On "du..." vs. "me...": "la maikl. 'elsym." is not necessarily equal in identity to "a gnostic-and-there-born- dweller-of-Dallas"; there is a lot more to Michael Helsem than that, and probably there are other Gnostic natives of Dallas, too. What you want to say is that Michael Helsem IS a Gnostic..., like saying that this IS a letter ("ti xatra"). To do that, you want to make a selbri out of Gnostic, which you do with "me". The "la'e" changes the following quoted piece into it's referent.
"joi" vs. "gi'e": "joi" means the combination is true, but probably NOT each individually. For example, if we carry a piano up the stairs with you on one end and me on the other, NEITHER of us has individually carried it up ("gi'e"); but, both of us together have ("joi").
"vazyjbe" vs. "jbeta'uxa'u": Just a suggestion [Michael agreed.] The "va" part doesn't really necessarily pick up Dallas.
[Michael revised the preferred spelling of his name after reading a separate note from me. His original form is invalid, because ' is NOT an 'h', even though it is pronounced like one. The apostrophe is a vowel buffer, and is permitted only between two vowels.
Orig: .i bazi leko'a nu jbena sei da'i se'u so'i finpe pu farlu fi le tsani
Rev : .i baziki lenu ko'a jbena kei da'i so'i finpe pu farlu fi le tsani
Tran: Shortly after the event of his being born, really, many fish fell from the sky.
"ki": This resets 'story' time for all further discussion (until re-reset) to "shortly after the event of his being born". Sentences coming after with no time referent are assumed to progress somewhat in time.
"le ko'a nu jbena" is "his event of birth", meaning an event of birth relating to him; possibly his son's birth. "le nu ko'a jbena" makes it clear that the one being born was him.
"kei" closes off the "nu" clause so it doesn't presume the "so'i finpe" is another sumti on "jbena" of the clause. "da'i" is a discursive and therefore somewhat parenthetical to begin with. You can still close it in parentheses, but not with "sei...se'u", which takes a bridi (it is meant for a metalinguistic statement which is otherwise not permitted in the position because it would be ungrammatical); if you do want to put "da'i" in parentheses, you can use "to...toi".
Orig: .ice ti'u paci nanca ko'a se pu darxi lo karce joi pu stali lo roktu'u ti'u so'o masti
Rev : .ibabo ca leko'a pacimoi nanca ko'a se darxi lo karce gi'e ba stali nenri lo roktu'u ca ze'e ta'e so'o masti
Trans: Then, at-the-time-of his thirteenth year, he is hit be a car and will be stayingly-inside a rock-tube at- [unspecified size interval]-continuously several months.
"ice" vs. "ibabo": "ice" means "and", but implies nothing about the timing; for "and-then" you want ".ibabo".
"ti'u" vs. "ca": "ti'u" means "dated", like a letter is dated with a certain date even though it was perhaps begun earlier and finished later, and it remains a letter even after. For "at-the-time-of", "ca" is much better.
"paci nanca" means "thirteen years", making your phrase into "dated thirteen years". The "moi" makes it into "thirteenth", and prefacing by "leko'a" makes it into "his".
"se pu darxi" is ungrammatical; it would have to be "pu se darxi". However, since the time was already set as "in his thirteenth year", the indication of past tense would mean something earlier than then: "During his thirteenth year, he earlier had ...".
"pu stali lo roktu'u" is "remained a rock-tube".
"ti'u so'o masti": Once again, you don't want "dated". The tense I put in I would not expect you to have built, but it does mean during.
Orig: .ice tezu'enai leke za'i pu cfari bancycu'e tai lo se ctuca po'u ratske kei ko'a pu fanmo se du'a lo ckulypikta po'u zu'o vidni cu'i
Rev : .ibabo tezu'enai leza'i cfari zvati le bancycu'e tai lo tadni pe loi ratske kei ko'a mulno gi'e te dunda lo ckulypikta pe loika vidni cu'i
Tran: Then, ungoaled-by [i.e. despite] the state of startingly-attending the beyond-school by method of a taught-one of atom-science, he was complete and was given a school-ticket of videonesses.
"leke...": The "ke" is not needed since it all groups the same with or without. The "kei" at the end will end the clause by ending the "za'i" abstraction. (The ending cmavo for "kei" was changed to "ke'e" anyway.)
"za'i cfari bancycu'e" = "state of startingly being-a-college".
"po'u" (now "pe") takes a sumti; "ratske" is a selbri. You need a descriptor to turn it into a sumti.
"fanmo" is "is-an-end-of", like "le fanmo" of a rope. "mulno" means "is-complete"
"se du'a...": I guess you could use this form. It is a lot more vague than my suggested change.
"zu'o vidni" = "activity of being a video [screen]"
"se ctuca": have you considered "tadni" (student)? [he hadn't and asked us to change all occurrences of "se ctuca" to "tadni"]
Orig: .ice ko'a pu litru re tumplita lu'a
Rev : .ibabo ko'a litru ji'i re tumplita
Tran: Then, he traveled via approximately two land-planes.
Final: .ibabo ko'a litru re tumplita lu'a
Tran: Then, he traveled via two land-planes, loosely speaking.
"lu'a" vs. "ji'i": "lu'a" is a discursive; discursives apply to text metalinguistically. In your usage, "lu'a" was applying to your tanru for continents, and not to the number two. For "approximately" to apply to the "two", "ji'i" is much better.
[Michael responded that his intent was metalinguistic - he was 'loosely speaking', and that he preferred "lu'a".I'm not sure whether the result means quite what he intends, but it isn't necessarily 'wrong'.]
Orig: .ica'o ko'a ki pu vi'o zgikei pi'o skami je damri .ui to joi ca toi
Rev : .i kiku ca'o ko'a pu vi'o zgikei lo skami .e lo damri vau .ui to ji'a ca ranji toi
Tran: Incidentally, he did occasionally music-play with a computer and [with] drums, (whee!) (additionally now continuing).
"ki": Without a specific time reference to reset to, this jumps back to current time. Since the timing of this and following pieces was not clearly specified as continuing in progression from previous events, I will specify these specifically and only in reference to the present.
"pi'o" not needed since the first place of "zgikei" (based on "kelci") would be what is played on/with.
"je" vs. ".e": Again, like "joi" vs. "gi'e", I assume it is true of each separately, and not that you played music on your computer-drum.
"vau": I used this to close off the sentence so the ".ui" would apply to the sentence as a whole. Generally it applies only to the preceding word, or following a structural cmavo, the construct that the preceding word initiates or closes.
"joi ca" is not grammatical as a complete utterance, unfortunately. I rephrased.
Orig: .i ko'a neke lo se ctuca po'u la vitgenctain. joi la'i latmo rampemcyzba kei .o'o paroi pu lifri nuke tirna le nike ko'a pifyzifydi'a la'u panononono rupnu .uecai
Rev : .i ko'a no'u lo tadni pe la vitgenctain. .e la'i latmo rampemcyzba ge'u .o'o paroi pu lifri lenu tirna lenu ko'a se pifyzifydi'a lo rupnu be li panononono .uecai
Tran: He, a taught-one relating to Wittgenstein and the Latin love-poem-makers, (indignation), once did experience the event of hearing the event of his being prisoner-free be-priced by dollars in-amount-of 10000 (strong surprise).
"ne" vs. "no'u": These have been switched, probably after you wrote this. Since we in the class found that the non-restrictive qualifier was used a lot more than the appositive, we made it the shorter word, "ne". Thus
"ne" means "(incidentally) is/does/is-related-to-in-some-manner", and "no'u" means "is incidentally the same identity as". Similarly "pe" and "po'u" have been switched (used later in the sentence).
"ke lo...kei": "ke" does group some things, but they are always selbri; it is ungrammatical before a sumti. The
"no'u" phrase is closed by a sometimes-elidable "ge'u", so I have used that instead of the "kei" that isn't allowed there either.
I rephrased the last piece. The literal translation would otherwise have been (after putting "le" before the "nu ke tirna"): "experienced the event of hearing the amount of (he was a prisoner-free-price relating to approximately 10000 dollars)".
Instead of "panononono" you can use "panoki'o"; it's a matter of taste. Your choice, being longer, emphasizes its size. [Michael responded that he was engaging in a little word-play.]
Orig: .iri'o pa'a pemci ko'a pujeca zbasu so'i cimpi'a joi pu pa rapnerpluja clacku ri'i
Rev : .iri'o ko'a pujeca zbasu so'i cimpi'a ne pa'a lei pemci gi'e pu finti pa rapnerpluja clacku ri'i
Tran: Anyway, he did-and-does make many paint-pictures besides poems, and did create one repeat-inside-complex long- book, etc..
On placing "pa'a": Usually there is one sumti you wish to parallel with what follows "pa'a". Is the poem in parallel with you in the making of many paintings? Or, is it in parallel with the paintings as being made by you? I assume the latter. It really should be attached, then, to the paintings to show that's what it is in parallel with; you attach it with "ne". If it is left unattached totally, the only interpretation I can think of is that "the poem" is in parallel with "I make many paintings and ...".
"joi pu" vs. "gi'e pu finti": Alas, ungrammatical. "pu" before "one repeat-inside-complex long-book" (which is what you have) means "before one ...". You just can't leave out another selbri if you want to change the tense from "did-and-do" to just "did". There is a proposed addition, parallel to "go'i" that will refer to the current sentence's selbri.
Orig: .isa'u ca ko'a xabju la .ok. klif. sei jarbu se'u pa'a le ko'a ractu me'e la byroz. sei se ta'o ri du lo nalcumfanva valkei se'u vau tu'u
Rev : .isa'u ki ca ku ko'a ne pa'a leko'a ractu no'u me'e zo byroz. sei ta'o ri nalcumselfanva valselkei se'u cu xabju la .ok. klif. no'u lo jarbu vau tu'u
Tran: Simply speaking, now he, besides his rabbit who is named "Burroughs" (by the way, that is an untranslatable pun), inhabits Oak Cliff, which is a suburb (end of long scope).
"ki ca ku": The "ki" is there to make sure time is reset to the present so the "ca" won't be taken to mean "simultaneous with the previous sentence's time". The "ku" is needed to close off the "ca", which otherwise would pick up the "ko'a" into a phrase meaning "at the time of him".
"pa'a" again has been linked to what it's in parallel with.
"la byroz." vs. "zo byroz.": "la byroz." means "that which is referred to by the name 'byroz.'", namely your rabbit; the sentence then winds up stating your rabbit is called by his furry self, making you have to reproduce him to call him. "zo byroz." is "the word 'byroz.'", which is a much better thing to have as a name.
I stuck in a couple "sel-"s into your lujvo to make it clearer that the second place is what is wanted in the corresponding tanru. "nalcumselfanva" = "not-possible thing-to be translated", as opposed to "nalcumfanva" = "not-possible translator". Similarly "valselkei" = "word thing-played-with", vs. "valkei" = "word player".
Orig: .i .ia ro brivla cu vasru pa le ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
Rev : .i .ia ro jufra cu vasru su'opa le ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
Tran: (Certainty), All sentences contain at-least-one of the infinitely-many achievements of being-an-error, to return to the point (over-and-out).
Final: .i .ia ro leivi jufra cu vasru su'opa le ci'i mu'e srera ri'o fe'o
Tran: (Certainty), All of these-mass-of sentences contain at-least-one of the infinitely-many achievements of being-an- error, to return to the point (over-and-out).
"brivla" is "relationship word"; from your translation, you want "jufra", which is "sentence" (or possibly "bridi"). [Michael correctly improved on our correction.]
"su'o" is what you wanted to get the "at least" for "at least one".
Orig: co'o tai zirjbo
Rev : .i co'o sei tai zirjbo
Tran: Bye (observing a methodically purple-lojbanic thing).
Final: .i mi stali ledo memi tai loi zirjbo .i co'o
Tran: I remain your pertaining-to-me-thing, by methods purple-lojbanic. Bye.
Because "co'o" can take a sumti-tail (the sumti without the "le" or other descriptor), the original translated as "Bye, O methodish purple-lojbanic-one" (similarly "co'o ractu" would be "Bye, rabbit"). The revised splits off the second part into a parenthetical observative. An alternative would be to "co'o .i tai le zirjbo vau", meaning "Bye. By-method-of the purple-lojbanic-one."; the "vau" is needed to end a sentence with just a sumti (a machine grammar peculiarity).
[Michael made another attempt, based on the Anglicism "I remain yours", but it didn't quite come out the way he intended. The final text is after discussion with him about what he wanted.]
[Note that 'purple Lojban' is "malglico" - a cultural metaphor dependent on knowing the English phrase "purple prose"; Michael continues using this as a standing 'inside joke' between us, but we don't encourage others to do so.]
Orig: ca'o ca'o le di'e du lo zoi zy haiku zy me'e lu ti'u ti cerni li'u tu'e
Rev : ni'o ca'o di'e cu me la'e zoi zy haiku zy me'e lu ca le puzi cerni li'u .itu'e
Tran: (New paragraph) Incidentally, the following is the-referent-of "haiku", with name "At-the-time-of the past-by- just-a-bit morning".
"ca'o ca'o" is fine, but I thought breaking off into a new paragraph would give the same feel as one of the "ca'o"s.
"du": see previous comments about "du" vs. "me ...".
"ti'u", again means "dated". "ca" means "at-the-time-of".
"ti cerni" is a sentence meaning "This is a morning". For "This morning" you really mean the just-passed morning: "le puzi cerni".
Orig: fi le pa stapa
Rev : fi le pa nunstapa
Tran: By means of the one act of stepping.
Final: fi le pamoi stapa
Tran: By means of the first-stepper.
Originally, "By means of the one stepper".
[Michael didn't like either Nora's version, or Bob's first attempt listed afterwards (he hasn't seen the second or thirdattempts until this printing). His intent was to emphasize that it was the FIRST step out of bed. The modified versionsays what he intended, but is not perfect haiku, which has a syllable count of 5/7/5.]
Orig: ra'i ckana .oi mi pu
Rev : ra'i le ckana .oi fa mi pu
Tran: from source of the bed (annoyance), by me was
A modal ("ra'i") may either be used as a sumti tag (as I assume you intended) or as an inflection for the selbri. To make "ra'i" a sumti tag, you need a descriptor on the selbri "ckana" (otherwise it will be taken as the sentence selbri, on which "ra'i" is a descriptor).
"fa": Since you used "fi" previously to get at the third place of "catra", the next non-sumti-tagged item will be assumed to be the fourth place; since you want the first, you will have to tag it again.
Orig: catra lo jalra
Rev : catra lo jalra
Tran: killed a cockroach.
Of course, all these changes kill the haiku form. Bob has suggested the following alternatives:
mi poi sa'akla (The me who step-goes) fi le ckana ku'o .oi (from the bed, (annoyance)) catra lo jalra (kills a cockroach.)
[As mentioned above, this doesn't say what Michael wanted to say, so Bob tried again. Two alternatives are the result,depending on whether you want to complain about the bed (too hard, too soft, too inviting) or being a killer. Note thatto properly complain about getting out of bed, the ".oi" must be placed after the "ra'i". Thus the English translationsof the earlier attempts are only approximates.]
pamoi nunstapa (Observative!) First act-of-stepping ra'i le ckana .oi .i out-of the bed (Complaint!). And mi jalra catra I am a cockroach killer.
pamoi nunstapa (Observative!) First act-of-stepping ra'i le ckana .i .oi out-of the bed. And (Complaint!) mi jalra catra I am a cockroach killer.
Orig: tu'u Rev : tu'u Tran: (End of block text)
Orig: ke'u fe'o Rev : .i ke'u fe'o Tran: Again, ending.
1. (As submitted - not good Lojban) - 10 Feb 1990
*la .uorf. .e la sapir. pu pensi ke lo'i rembangu lei mensi cu simsa leka lanzu .eka pamei nalbanzu .i ku'i ta sidbo ca gentsi
1. (Final form - with approved corrections)
la .uorf. .e la saPIR. pu pensi Whorf and Sapir wondered about lenu loi rembangu lei mensi human languages, sisters cu simsa leka lanzu being similar, in relatedness gi'e pamei nalbanzu and in singular insufficiency. .i ku'i leva sidbo ca genytsi But this nearby idea is now a knot-seed.
loi ve cusku cu mo loi se cusku The means-of-expression has-what- relation-to the expressibly cumda'i .i mi danfu lu le sisku possible-objects. I answer "The seeker cu nitcu pa jaspu needs one passport .uu .i ku'i na vasru (Alas!). But not-a-container, fa ri rixiCI pe'i li'u it is, of him (I think)."
sei lu leka sarcu vau li'u cmene ni'o ("The Necessity" names.) lo cizra zasmunje lo'e skami A strange temporary-universe, the (typical) computer cu nenri .i RA mi se prami inside is. It (the universe), I love. .i ku'i le pratci But the producer-tool cu nu sisti kei batci is a cessation-biter. le nunmenxru .uu TA'i loi glaslami of the mind-returning (Alas!) like hot-acid.
For the first example, I am assuming most readers don't know Latin, I'm including his English translation. Note thatthe Latin original has two lines, but that it takes 3 sentences in both English and Lojban to translate it:
seide'e se sanga bimumoi ni'o Carmen LXXXV Song #85 (The following is Song 85th) prami joi xebni fa mi odi et amo I love-and-hate. .i lu la'edi'u ki'a vau li'u quare id facium, "What's that?" do nu'o cusku .i mi fortasse requiris. / you may say. I genai caca jimpe la'ede'u Nescio, don't understand it, gi ru'i lifri cai je sed fieri sentio et but continuously experience(!)-and- dunku ri excrucior. -am-anguished-by such a state. Bob's note: If brevity was desired without significantly changing the meaning, the last Lojban sentence could be shortened: ni'o prami joi xebni fa mi odi et amo I love-and-hate. .i lu la'edi'u ki'a vau li'u quare id facium, "What's that?" do nu'o cusku .i mi fortasse requiris. / you may say. I, la'ede'u jimpe Nescio, this state, don't understand, gi'e ru'i lifri je sed fieri sentio et but continuously-experience-and- dunku excrucior. -am-anguished-by (it).
Michael's original had "je" instead of "joi". "je" is a logical connective, while "joi" is a mixture-connective.The logical connective can expands out into logically equivalent sentences; these mean, of course: "I love" and "Ihate". The paradox causing the confusion is probably the poet's mixed emotion of love and hate, but this must beinferred from context, since the Latin is no less ambiguous than the English. Athelstan reads the Latin differently than Michael and suggests (not being too sure himself without more research) that the first line be interpreted as "I love-and-hate. 'Why do you do this?', you might ask". This reading would require changing "cusku" to "dafcpe" (answer-request) in line 3, and the question on the 2nd line becomes ".i lu go'i mu'i ma li'u", which translates as "This-last,with what motive?".
For the next few, we'll give interlinear literal translations, and then, as appropriate, Michael's colloquial Englishtranslation.
di'e lojbo pemci gi'e se cmene The following is a Lojbanic-poem, and is named lu le firgai pu'u se vimcu vau li'u "The face-cover (mask) [type-of] process of being removed" [Note that no "cu" causes the abstraction to be absorbed into a big tanru.] .i tu'e [ fe zo pei ca rapcpedu cai Request "How do you feel about?", repeatedly-request (!) fa mi .ei ne tai do pe pu fi mi I (Obligation!), in the manner that you, who were past [did], of me. fo po'i loi so'iplo senta in-the-manner/form-of (Figurative):[many-folded layers. .i mi vimcu ro lei firgai levi I remove all the face-covers from the-here sluni po'u lonu djica .ice'o onion, the state-of-desiring. And then, sequentially, ju'ido'u rixire mujytisybanro po'a (Attention, you!) it (the onion) universe-fillingly grows.]:(End figurative) ["ri" was probably sufficient, since he's said that the onion is the desiring-state.] .iku'i pu najenai ca ku But, neither-before-nor-presently, mi djuno leri cumyme'e do I know its (the onion's) possible-name(s) .e lejei ri se skicu and the-truth-of its (still the onion/desiring-state) being described fo po'i lonu kansa kazmaksi as (figuratively):[an-event-of together-magnetism .a lo nalsti nu fasnu cictcima or an unceasing event of being occurring wild-weather [The "fasnu" seems redundant here.] po'a .a sa'u pa drata nu ka bebna ]:(end figurative), or (simply) one other [=another] event of foolishness. The "nu ka" seems malglico - an attempt to match an English phrasing. "nu bebna" is and event of something being a fool, i.e. an event of foolishness. "ka bebna" is a property/quality of foolishness. "nu ka bebna" thus has the place structure "x1 is an event of (x1a being a property of (x1b being a fool), which translates approximately the same way into English but implies some meaningless sumti. tu'u ]
Michael's colloquial English translation:
A Lojban poem entitled "The Unmasking":
"What is it you feel?" -- now I must keep asking myself, as you once did to me, like laminations. I remove all the masks from this onion of a desire. Then Lo! it grows-to-fill-the-world... But still not do I know what to call it, nor whether it's described by 'a state of together-magnetism' or 'an unending storm' -- or simply one more folly.
Note the fairly complex tense-negation in the 3rd stanza. This appears correct, but is exactly the type ofconstruct that we are pondering in our open-issue discussions of tense and negation. I may even find a way to use this stanza as an example in the text.
This is why we want people to try to use the language, before its nailed into unchanging form. If people don't try complicated expression, we don't have examples of all the ways people might try to use the grammar we've defined, thus risking an error that will later come back to haunt us. We can only accomplish so much by thought-experiments, and the relatively small number of texts and examples that the few of us making decisions can generate ourselves.
The second poem:
di'e se cmene lu The following is called " loika zvati vau li'u Being-at-nesses (Presences)": .i tu'e [ ti'e lonu zgana (I hear) states of observing be lemu'e ke lunra the (specific) achievement of lunar ka cuklymulno cu xamgu round-completeness (full-moon-ness) is good. .iku'i mi drata salci But I otherly-celebrate lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla the (specific) lunar superlative-thinness (new-moon-ness) .i mi ckini ri leka manku I am related to it (the achievement) in the (specific) properties of darkness, .e lo mipri nu zasti .e .a'u and in secret states of existing, and (I wish!) lenu ka vlipa po'u piro lo the (specific) properties of powerfulness, all of a te pencu be le munje se rinka means of touching the world-cause. .i ca lemu'e ke lunra ka caircinla At the (specific) achievement of lunar superlative-thinness ku le lunra cukla cu binxo , the lunar disk becomes leri pamei zgana its (the disk's) single observer. .i mi go'i gi'e ku'i roroi I too (become the disk's single observer (sic), but always pubi'ica zgana lemi ka nomei ji'a from-earlier-until-now an observer of my zerosome-ness, also. tu'u ]
Michael didn't provide a colloquial translation - this poem is sufficiently Lojbanic that such a translation would miss some things. I noted that in a few places, Michael's interlinear translation did not always match what he wrote,so the above interlinear is my modification of his.
I like this poem; the images to me are powerful. The lengthy set of comments that follow have nothing to do with its quality, which I think is outstanding. I hate picking apart something this good, lest I trivialize it, but teaching is right now the important thing, and Michael will no doubt make the poem better still as a result, for the enjoyment of future Lojbanists. But note that my comments, though occasionally picky, are of a different nature than, for example,Nora's comments on Michael's self-description. Now we are not concerned with Michael writing a grammatical Lojban sentence, but how he can best convey the subtleties of his ideas. In short we are now talking about the art of Lojban expression.
- As noted previously, the "ke"s are unneeded. Michael probably included them based on the textbook lessons written before we had changed the rule (Feb 89) and no longer require "ke" after the abstractor clause to indicate long-scope abstraction, which is now the default. Instead, if he had wanted short-scope abstraction, he would put a "kei" into indicate the termination. The "ke"s are not harmful; the parser would merely assume a matching elided "ke'e" at theend of the selbri.
- I have emphasized a little bit of inconsistency in his choices of "lo" vs. "le" by highlighting the difference in translation. "le" implies that the speaker has (a) specific one(s) in mind. "lo" makes a statement about at least one non-specific representative of the described type. Thus, I would expect that the descriptors on the three properties by which Michael claims to be akin to the disk would either all be "le" (if he has specific properties in mind, which I suspect), or they should all be "lo" (if any old property of the type described will do). Other places in the text could stand re-examination of his choice of descriptor to further improve his clarity.
- As another example of a possibly inadequate descriptor choice, I think the two 'achievements' of new-moon-ness and full-moon-ness should be described with "loi"; this not only means that he doesn't have specific new moon and full moon achievements in mind (unlikely for an abstraction), but it heightens the sense of abstraction by referring to those achievements as being of a mass of lunar achievements, presumably most or all alike in possessing the properties to which Michael refers.
- Also relating to the properties of kinship: if they are all properties, they probably all should use the "ka"abstractor. These would translate in a decidedly non-English manner, which may be why Michael made what I think are errors. Thus "leka mipri zasti" (the quality of secret existence) or "le mipri ka zasti" (the secret essence [quality of existence]). "leka vlipa" (the powerfulness. The latter would then better be qualified (I think) as "leka vlipa poipiromei curmi lonu pencu le munje se rinka" (the powerfulness that wholly-is-a-permitter of touching the universe-cause.
- Is Michael akin to the moon, or to its achievements, in those properties of kinship. What he says is that he isakin to the achievements. If he means to be akin to the moon, he needs to move the moon out of a tanru relationship sohe can refer to it anaphorically with "ri". The best way I see to do this is (assuming use of "loi" as mentioned above:"... salci loimu'e le lunra cu caircinla .i mi ckini ri ...". This picks up "ri" as "le lunra".
- That the rephrasing I just proposed would work suggests to me that the "ka" is not needed on "cuklymulno" or"caircinla". An achievement is itself an abstract state. You don't achieve a property, but rather a state characterized by the property.
- I would have chosen "dukti" rather than "drata" as a modifier of "salci", thus clarifying that he is contrasting with a celebration of the 'opposite state'.
- The use of "mi go'i" confuses; I think Michael is relying on a poetic sense that tells an English reader what is meant here by "me too". As he has it written, "go'i" captures the bridi based on "binxo", and the "mi" replaces the first sumti of that bridi. The x2 place remains unchanged - the Thus, instead of the moon becoming its own observer,the poet now is. They can't both alone be observers. The solution here is tricky, and depends on what exactly he means. The use of "mi'u" (UI - discursively indicates a parallel) marking the sentence might help. Changing the wording of the x2 place of "binxo" might also play a role: saying that the moon becomes "lo pa sevzi zgana" (a self-observer, of which there is exactly one in the set) or "lo pamei sevzi zgana" (a solitary self-observer). "sepli" might be used in either form in place of "pamei", if the intent is to convey the apartness of the observer, rather than the singularity. If the parallel he is trying to make allows for both he and the moon to be observing the same thing,though apart (from each other and/or from humanity) then "pamei" misleads.
- Astronomers would dislike Michael's expressions for "full moon" and "new moon". The moon doesn't significantly change shape either being completely-round or most-thin. Rather it is the observed moon (selzga lunra or, perhaps better, lunra selzga) , or possibly the lunar disk (lunrycukla or just leave it as a tanru) that changes shape. The latter might cause a problem with interpreting the later use of "lunra cukla" near the end of the poem: is it the lunardisk (the planar projection that we see) that becomes an observer, or the lunar orb (lunra bolci = lunryboi), or maybe just "le lunra" (the moon), since the self-observing moon would not see what we see from Earth. But we're dealing with poetry here, and the place structure of "lunra" is that of a 'name predicate' (see the discussion of culture words inthe response to jyjym. below)
- Incidentally, Michael may have chosen not to compress the lujvo for "full moon" for sound reasons, but "cukmu'o"is a valid shortening. Also, the rafsi for comparatives and superlatives are oriented towards final position use, so I would prefer "cinlycai" to "caircinla", all other things being equal.
I think I'll stop commenting on this one; these comments are getting too picky even by my rather perfectioniststandards. The next poem is decidedly weird, but I think that was Michael's intent - to stretch one's mind.
di'e se cmene lu The following is named " mela saPIR. .uorf. li'u Pertaining to Sapir-Whorf (Sapir-Whorf-ly)" .i tu'e [ ko leido se mipri le (Imperative you), your secrets, to the sutrai nalmorji ca dunda fastest non-rememberer, now give! .i lo narju joi rijno Orange-and-silver fasnu ba snuji ro lei drata events will be sandwiches, filled by all of the other things. .i zo'e tagji logji Something unspecified is snugly logical. tu'u ]
I will leave this one for your imagination. I can't suggest any improvements. My mind is still trying to grasp"orange-and-blue events", and figure out how they can be sandwiches.
Letters, Comments, and Responses
Due to the length of this issue, I'm going to try to keep my comments short in response to the following. Arthur Brown is a mathematician and has followed the Loglan Project fairly closely since it was made public in 1960. His comments are in response to the Mathematics Intelligencer essay.
from Arthur Brown
There are some things about translation. In my opinion, a thorough knowledge of the jargon used in the target language (in my case English) is essential. I remember a case in which the Office of Naval Intelligence used a broke-down Russian emigr lawyer to translate some technical documents: the poor chap used a "wide-striped catcher" instead of a "broad-band receiver". This was good Russian, but not good English, because the jargon was missing. (In fact, the Russian authors intended the English jargon, because a broad-band receiver was an Anglo- American technical development, I think.) The Chinese might use a "wide one-long-piece ribbon electric-listen thingamajig", for all I know. One would have to settle on Lojban terms for the thing-in-itself, and let the translators into target languages cope with the jargon.
A lot of mathematics is repetition, of stereotyped language. But some of it isn't. Occasionally, and I think regrettably, the authors break loose and become picturesque; this outbreak poses a real problem for the translator. What do you do when there isn't any jargon in the target language, or even worse, when there is jargon but it means something else (e.g. Khrushchev's "We will bury you", which is good Russian for "we will outlast you", but in English means the annihilation of cities). This will be a problem for Lojban as a single intermediate language; overcomable, obviously, but a problem.
I suggest that, for Lojban generally, you get hold of a copy of William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity, published some 40 or 50 years ago. Empson was a disciple of I. A. Richards and C. K. Ogden; the book is about the richness that a language gets from compression, where the reader is uncertain about which meaning the author in- tended, and so settles for all the meanings possible. Loj- ban, if I understand it, intends to be unambiguous; if Sapir-Whorf takes ambiguity into account, as relating to real cultural languages, then I'm not sure that Lojban will give a complete test. But that doesn't relate to science; so the broader aims of Lojban should not be allowed to interfere with its use as Intermath.
Is there any hope of getting the National Science Foundation behind Lojban?
Bob responds to the last question: As described in the news section, we are currently seeking to establish academic credibility before tackling the NSF. People have told us that we need 1) to have been published in a refereed journal [not yet in the works] 2) to be willing to wait several months for decision and funding [we live from month to month, hoping that I don't have to go back to work too soon] 3) to have a competitive proposal when most NSF proposals are written with the help of professional consultants [I have proposal writing experience, but I'm not that good] and 4) to live down Jim Brown's actions of the late 70's when he accused key individuals at NSF of improprieties in handling his proposals. Bureaucracies have long memories, and Jim Brown leveled serious charges.
I've been working on an outline, a very rough one, of the Lojban words on the 8/9/88 baselined gismu list. I think I'm going to try to learn Lojban, and the outline gives me a constructive way to learn some gismu. A completed outline should be useful in various ways.
This effort, combined with learning more about Lojban in general, has led me to an awareness of something unfortunate. The gismu corresponding to particular cul- tures/nations/languages/religions, from "African" to "Urdi," have to go. I mean that those gismu are imposters; they are cmene in "gismu-clothing" and they must be abolished. They are nothing other than a "Most Favored Cultured List" (MFCL). This does not apply to "mekso" It does apply to "lojbo", but that can be fixed.
I'll list a few things, in no special order, to show what drove me to this conclusion about the MFCL.
- Lojban is all grown up now and stands on its own. All other languages, including the target languages, are now foreigners. If it fails to treat all foreigners equally, it is biased.
- The inclusion of the MFCL was justified by pointing out the vast numbers of people covered by those labels. No other gismu are judged in that way. For example, the inclusion of "civla" was not justified by citing the extent of the infestation.
- The language was made to have ample grammatical tools for borrowing names from other languages. It is irrational for the makers of the language to ignore the rules of what they have themselves created, and to write borrowings directly into the gismu list, to take up fifty extremely valuable spaces.
- The gismu are words which speakers are forced to use, unlike cmene and tanru which are a matter of personal preference. Who are you to decide that a speaker must acknowledge certain groups of ordinary people as basic concepts, and call them by the words you deem fitting?
- Practical difficulties may arise. For example, Tao is officially proscribed in China. Some Chinese bureaucrat may see a description of Lojban, note that it includes Tao as a basic concept, and stamp it "counterrevolutionary." That's the end of Lojban for a billion people. Easy come, easy go. But of course no one could even imagine that happening to a culturally neutral language.
- The MFCL words convey no meaning in the way that gismu have to. gismu convey a meaning by excluding other possibilities. For example, (dog) is (not cat), and (sorrow) is (not bliss). But is it correct that (American) is (not African)? Words which do not exclude each other, such as (clock) and (timepiece) are synonyms. The MFCL words are synonyms, if they are gismu.
- Increased knowledge makes it easier to select a word if that word corresponds to a concept. For example, if we gradually learn that X has something to do with an emotion, whispers, a crystalline mineral, and a carving on wood in the shape of a bodily organ, we may begin to suspect that X is "love." Given more information we will know for sure. (Actually, if the carving is in the shape of a bodily organ, it MUST be love.) But which MFCL word applies to a Toyota built in Tennessee? If more information is needed to decide whether this car is "America-concept" or "Japan- concept," I will add that it is owned by the Reverend Dr. Smith. He is a resident of Berlin. His pet name for it is "Romulus." More and more specific information only leads to greater and greater doubt about which MFCL word is appropriate.
- That's enough.
Oh yes, about lojbo--why not just define it to mean the name of the language. Let future Lojban speakers choose their own names for their culture, nation, etc. Those names are likely to be metaphors anyway.
Bob responds: jyjym. is absolutely correct in that the MFCL words are 'cmene in gismu-clothing'. I'll go further and say that "mekso" also fits this, and so to a small number of other words like "lunra", "terdi", and "solri". You can identify all of these words by their artificial- sounding place structure "x1 pertains to ... in property/aspect/action x2".
Not surprisingly, this is also the place structure used when you turn a cmene written as a sumti into a brivla by using the cmavo "me". Thus "me la iunaitedsteits." has the grammar of a brivla, with the place structure x1 pertains to the United States in property/aspect/action x2. The function of turning a name into a predicate is vital to language. That is the only way you could say "This is a Toyota car".
Why do we have them, if they are names? Because they are much used in practical everyday speech by people. Not directly as gismu, but in tanru and lujvo. Even if a Toyota is built in Tennessee, most people will identify it with the tanru Japanese-car. The answer to your last question (8) is that people will use whatever culture label they wish to, to identify that feature, trait or stereotype that they are attributing to the car, person, item, or concept.
If this sounds like catering to prejudice, it may indeed be. But on the Eaton list of concepts, the name for 'one's own culture/nation' is on the first page of the frequency list, and the concept of 'specific other culture/nation besides one's own', a combination of all the other culture names put together, isn't far behind (the specific list of 'other cultures talked about' is going to vary in each country/culture).
In Lojban, these words will be used even more frequently in tanru and lujvo than in the natural languages. The most obvious uses are for concepts tied to nationality or culture such as 'American dollar', as opposed to 'Canadian dollar', and 'Japanese yen', 'English system of measures', and a large number of religious concepts that inherently include the religion in the concept. For example, 'pertaining to the Bible' (as an adjective - 'biblical') would be "Christian-sacred-book" (as opposed to the Torah, which is the "Jewish-sacred-book").
There is a second type of word that uses culture words, which we in English use all of the time without realizing what we are doing. These are those words that have a hidden etymology that is a name - often a place name. While we would be unlikely to use these particular tanru in Lojban, "emerald" derives from "esmeralda", a word for East, and "turquoise" from "Turkey". When we orient ourselves in a new situation, we hearken back to the time when people oriented themselves in new places by facing the sunrise (the Orient).
Apparently, all natural languages build metaphors from names. Lojban is different than natural languages in providing short, regular, combining forms for those believed to be likely to generate often-used words. Other names will have to be Lojbanized into le'avla, and then made to combine using a non-abbreviated combining form (?toionta + karce = toiontykarce)
In point 6, jyjym. has made a distinction between cmene and gismu, saying that "dog" is "not cat". From modern science, we believe this the case, but there are cultures that might believe in cat/dog half-breeds. To them, the statement "dog" is "not cat" is not obvious. To use an ex- ample, we saw just above, we have gismu for 'love' and also for 'hate', but these abstract concepts, though considered opposites, do not exclude each other - else we would never hear of a 'love/hate relationship'.
The assumption in Lojban is that all words are 'names' for concepts. A selbri (of which gismu are only a part) is a name for a concept expressed as a relationship. A cmene is a name for a concept expressed as a substantive label. The cmavo "me" and "la" exist to blur the lines between these two categories so that selbri can be turned into cmene and cmene into selbri.
There is a common misconception, which jyjym. appears to share (#4), and that is the concept that gismu are some set of 'basic concepts'. It is precisely to avoid this misconception that we started using the Lojban word gismu instead of "primitive". An idea that some words or concepts are 'basic' and others are not IS ITSELF a bias - a bias toward certain concepts being more important than other ones. No two human beings, much less cultures, would be likely to agree exactly on the set of basic words. Why should 'cat' and 'dog' be gismu, and not 'lobster' and 'amoeba'?
Surely, there are some concepts represented in the gismu that are universally considered basic, but they are a small minority. Some cultures divide the color spectrum into as few as two or three colors - Lojban uses about a dozen. Are those dozen 'basic' in some absolute sense? No.
There is a category of Lojban concept represented neither by gismu, nor tanru, nor cmene - these are the le'avla, or borrowings. le'avla are predicate words, like gismu, but they are formed by Lojbanizing from a word in another language, like cmene. The rules for Lojbanizing are a bit more strict than for cmene, and harder to learn, so we de-emphasize using le'avla, preferring to use a tanru instead when we can; in the long run, however, le'avla may be the largest class of words in the language, covering most foods, animals, plants, and technical jargon words.
The words that are gismu have an 'advantage' over le'avla in that they are shorter. More significantly, they are the only words considered for assignment of rafsi. All of the MFCL words have rafsi, which is not the case for all gismu. The reason, based exactly on jyjym.'s logic, is that if we couldn't assign a rafsi to a name-gismu, we shouldn't have it as a gismu.
There is indeed an effective bias in including some cultures as gismu, and in not including others. The bias is that speakers in those cultures find an easier time talking about concepts peculiar to their culture as lujvo, while people of other cultures will use le'avla.
Jim Brown had gismu for each of his 8 source language cultures, and Lojban. But he also added some odd additions like 'Italian', 'Roman', 'Amerind', and the distinction between 'American' and 'British' within 'English' (but he left out 'Canadian' and 'Australian', and all of the Span- ish-speaking countries of Latin America). His choices struck us as biased and arbitrary, and made worse by the assignment of 3 gismu to each of his MFCL.
We chose to minimize bias by adding gismu to the point that we covered the 12 most common languages, the primary cultures (down to some minimum population) that spoke them, and the primary religions and continents so-associated, etc. It was at this level that we reached the conflict stage for rafsi, and were starting to have to choose between assigning them to MFCL words or to other gismu judged to be useful in tanru.
(jyjym. is incorrect in a sense - gismu word space is not all that precious. We could have twice the number of gismu we have now. The number we stopped at was based on a consensus among the word-makers, strongly influenced by a historical tradition of 1000-1500 concepts in artificial languages, and indications from foreign language education research that this was a minimum vocabulary size for conversation. We also were starting to get an increasing number of conflicts over rafsi, and highest scoring word- form.)
The 12 language level (our 'most favored languages' - MFL) was historically significant - it included all of Jim Brown's languages plus our own set, and included all languages that we had considered using in making gismu.
The number 12 had a non-arbitrary feel to it - we were using an fairly objective standard, rather than personal preference, to determine which were included. But it is, in a sense, arbitrary.
Let me turn to jyjym.'s individual points briefly:
1. Lojban does not yet stand on its own. We are highly dependent on native speakers of the 12 MFL, which include nearly all languages used in more than one nation. The 50- 75% of the world that speaks one of the MFL's have the capability to make lujvo for the words they use often in their culture; this will enhance Lojban's acceptability.
As I've said a couple of times in this newsletter, Lojban IS biased. The point is to have biases minimized and identified. Our list has less of a Euro-American bias than Jim Brown's list. Note that all of our gismu can be said to be even more biased than the MFCL, in that they maximize learnability for people of only 6 languages.
None of these presumed biases are believed significant for a Sapir-Whorf test, although such an assumption must be verified at some point by testing MFCL members as well as non-MFCL members.
2. Actually, "civla" was included because of the ubiquity of lice and fleas, and properly covers all skin/hair parasites in its definition. Similarly, "jalra", "sfani", "bifce", "toldi", "manti" and "jukni" are ubiquitous - the gismu for these are intended to cover the rest of "bug-dom". (Do we need one for "locust/grasshopper"?)
All gismu were considered from the standpoint of whether they would be useful to people of all cultures. Some limited sets, like the MFCL, some animals and plants, grains, and some metals, are exceptions that were included for a combination of historical continuity, and because some of the 12 MFL cultures use the words metaphorically in their own languages.
3. As stated, we have 3 ways to borrow names, into 3 different word categories. To use one set of rules is not to ignore the others. There is nothing 'more basic' about one set of rules as compared with another.
4. I don't understand this claim. You can use, or not use gismu, as you choose. There is nothing forced. I'll admit that if you use LogFlash, you would have to edit out some words to not be 'forced' to learn them, but you are not required to use them. And what makes cmene and tanru more a matter of personal preference? You can creatively make a different tanru if you don't like how one sounds, but it will mean something different. If you use a cmene as a label, which differs from someone else's label for the same thing, they may not recognize who or what you are talking to/about.
Again, gismu are not 'basic concepts'.
It occurs to me that people can choose to ignore the MFCL gismu if they choose, and use cmene or le'avla if they prefer. I don't see any advantage to this, since it is extra work for no gain.
5. If we were to include or exclude concepts from our list based on local politics, that would indeed be biased. I could say that ALL religions are proscribed in some countries. Does this mean that we should eliminate "lijda" from the gismu? Incidentally, to ban something, you have to label it.
There are a million and one possible ways for people in a given culture to become offended by something in Lojban which differs from their own culture. For example, we have the gismu "gletu", "ganxo", "pinji", "kalci" which repre- sent concepts taboo in our culture. The fact that Lojban by rule forbids taboos on any word could offend religious people.
6. I've dealt with this partially above. It sounds like jyjym. is claiming that no gismu overlap in meaning except the MFCL, and that words that do overlap are synonyms. Neither of these is true. For example, "nanmu", "prenu", "bersa", "bruna", "patfu", "remna", and "panzi" all overlap in a set that includes all fathers who aren't the only child of their parents.
7. I'm lost on interpreting this one. The exact mapping of associations to words is an individual, or at least a cultural thing. I suspect that there are some cultures that, given the list of clue concepts, could decide that jyjym. is referring to lust or worship, or both. All in all, this is a valuable discussion. We get more questions about the culture words than any other gismu, usually asking why they were included, or complaining about having to memorize them. There is a 'bottom line' - if no one uses a gismu, or any other word, it will eventually fall out of the language. I'm betting that while most Americans will have little call for using "xurdo", they'll have trouble avoiding the use of "merko" and "glico". To eliminate all of the MFCL that one doesn't personally use would be "malglico" - oops, I just used one. Perhaps if you have memorized "xurdo", you'll find a use for it.
from Eric Williams
Question # 1 - Why are words for 'large' and 'small' included in Lojban? When a person says "ta cu barda", he or she has only expressed something very vague, since "ta" is not 'larger than' something. It seems that the proper way to express this concept is 'more' (or 'less') than an- other in height, weight, surface area, or whatever. Bob's Response: If you want to express a comparison, you indeed should use "zmadu", or "ckamu"; they are comparative by nature and it shows in the place structure. "barda" and "cmalu" are the same concept without an inherent comparative. As you've noted, these provide less information than the comparatives - exactly one sumti place's worth. Based on English usage, there are cases where a comparative could be misleading - a large negative number is less than a small negative number.
Quite often, we don't know what the basis of comparison is. What is a 'big house' bigger than - possibly nothing in particular - and each person's standard of comparison might be different, so we can't use "zu'i", the 'unspecified typical' sumti place filler, unless we also add an observer place. Since some comparatives are ob- server independent, you can't put the observer place in the basic place structure.
In general, we've omitted comparatives from place structures because there is almost always a use where comparatives cause problems. In fact, we've followed a 'less is better' philosophy of place structure determination for all of the gismu. It is easy to 'add' an extra place using a sumti tcita 'case tag'; it is impossible to remove a place. So we try to keep out the non-mandatory ones. This has the side advantage of making the place structures easier to learn, because there is less to learn.
(There IS a proposal to amend the place structure of "barda" and "cmalu" to add "as compared to standard x3. This is different from a true comparative. Comments are welcome.)
Question #2 - Why have Lojban pronouns been assigned both singular and plural meanings? (If the S-W Hypothesis is correct, one might argue that Lojban would create a cultural bias towards a pluralism - a society such as the one in Ayn Rand's Anthem, which had done away with the word "I" and hence, with man's ego.) Is there a method for stating "me, to the exclusion of all others"? If so, please let me know.
Bob's response - Predicate logic ignores the difference between singular and plural, so Lojban, at its most basic level, also does. This might cause a S-W effect such as you've described; that is why Lojban was created - so that such drastic differences in world view in a society can be clearly tied to grammatical constructs.
When we say that Lojban is culturally neutral, we mean not that the language has no effects on the culture - that would be assuming that Sapir-Whorf is false, and minimizing just the types of effects we'd be looking for. Rather, we try to eliminate the cultural biases of existing cultures of the world, the sources of natural language speakers that will eventually form the Lojban speaker base.
Lojban achieves cultural neutrality by trying to minimize metaphysical assumptions, and the singular/plural distinction is one such assumption. Does there have to be such a distinction? If so, why not a 3- or 4- way distinction expressing singular, dual, trial, and multitudinal (there are languages with more than 2 number categories, though I don't know of any with exactly this set).
Lojban tries to remove constraints. Therefore, you CAN express number, tense, and the various other optional grammatical features if it is important to the truth of your statement, which isn't that often. You have a couple of ways of expressing singular more clearly: "mipezi" (the right-here me, limits by location rather than number. It is only plural if there are several people by me, and you are off across the room). "mipoipamoi" is the ultimate singular - "I, the one some".
You can make a whole bunch of other distinctions that you can't make in English, of course, but I've no room for them here.
[Eric also asked about the place structures of culture words, but his question was answered in the response tojyjym., so I've not repeated the answer here.]
Last Minute Request for Comment
In discussing some of the topics in this issue, and in discussing negation, a question of bias arose. At present"zmadu" has 3 rafsi, including "mau" which also serves as a sumti tcita (lexeme BAI) for adding "more than ..."comparatives. The 'opposite' word, "ckamu" has no rafsi,partly because in English we seldom make comparatives in this direction, so few have built tanru from "ckamu"."ckamu" also has a sumti tcita, but it is not as clearly connected to the gismu.
We thus are proposing the first change in a gismu sincethe baseline was established 20 months ago, and setting the precedent by encouraging comment from all who have started learning the words (and others) before even a single word change. The proposed replacement is "mleca" with rafsi "-mec-" and "-me'a" and the latter becoming the sumti tcita.The issue will be decided at LogFest 90 after consideration of all comments. What do you think?