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''For a full list of issues, see '''[[zo'ei la'e "lu ju'i lobypli li'u"]]'''.''<br/>
 
''For a full list of issues, see '''[[zo'ei la'e "lu ju'i lobypli li'u"]]'''.''<br/>
''Previous issue: '''[[me lu ju'i lobypli li'u 8 moi]]'''.''<br/>
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''Previous issue: '''[[me lu ju'i lobypli li'u 13 moi]]'''.''<br/>
''Next issue: '''[[me lu ju'i lobypli li'u 10 moi]]'''.''
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Latest revision as of 00:44, 18 August 2020

For a full list of issues, see zo'ei la'e "lu ju'i lobypli li'u".
Previous issue: me lu ju'i lobypli li'u 13 moi.
Next issue: me lu ju'i lobypli li'u 15 moi.

Copyright, 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 for the product, and that this copyright notice is included intact in the copy.

Number 14 - March 1991
Copyright 1991, The Logical Language Group, Inc.
2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031 USA (703)385-0273
Permission granted to copy, without charge to recipient, when for purpose of promotion of Loglan/Lojban.

Fund-Raising Drive Successful

Regular In-Language Activities Started

Loglan Trademark Claim Cancelled

LogFest 91 - 21-24 June 1991

Details Inside, and More.

Ju'i Lobypli (JL) is the quarterly journal of The Logical Language Group, Inc., known in these pages as la lojbangirz.

la lojbangirz. is a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of completing and spreading the logical human language "Lojban - A Realization of Loglan" (commonly called "Lojban"), and informing the community about logical languages in general. For purposes of terminology, "Lojban" refers to a specific version of a logical language, the generic language and associated research project having been called "Loglan" since its invention by Dr. James Cooke Brown in 1954. Statements referring to "Loglan/Lojban" refer to both the generic language and to Lojban as a specific instance of that language. 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 their 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.

Page count this issue: 96+8 enclosures ($10.40 North America, $12.48 elsewhere). Press run for this issue of Ju'i Lobypli: 270. We now have about 600 people on our active mailing list, and 200 more awaiting textbook publication.

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 13 March 1991. Mailing codes (and approximate annual balance needs) are defined as follows:

Level B - Product Announcements Only
Level R - This is a Review Copy for Publications
Level 0 - le lojbo karni - $4 initially + $5/year balance requested
Level 1 - Ju'i Lobypli - $20 initially + $20/year balance requested
Level 2 - Level 1 materials and baselined products - $25 initially + $25/year balance requested
Level 3 - Level 2 materials and lesson materials - $50 initially + $40/year balance requested

Please keep us informed of changes in your mailing address, and US subscribers are asked to provide ZIP+4 codes whenever you know them. (We now have to!)

Contents of This Issue

We skipped one quarterly issue cycle, but have now resumed our activities. This longer than average issue should help make up for the long wait.

This issue reports on the news of the last 6 months. In addition, we briefly survey the 'areas of interest' that are listed on our registration form, so that you can see the scope of Lojban activities, and the potential in each area. We then move from this general discussion into the specific topic of Lojban and linguistics, with which the bulk of this issue deals. (Please pardon the occasional jargon therein - some contributors were writing for a different audience. We've tried to elaborate on the jargon where it seemed necessary for understanding. The lead article on this topic is John Cowan's response to the 1969 critical review of Loglan written by linguist Dr. Arnold Zwicky; that review was never responded to by Dr. Brown, to the detriment of Loglan/Lojban's acceptance in the linguistics community. We also include edited transcripts of some computer network discussions regarding Lojban, Esperanto, and linguistics, and a brief description of Lojban written for linguists (as opposed to our brochure discussion for laymen).

Finally, we print some of your letters, with responses. Thanks to all of you for your continued interest and support. Included are final words for now on the subject of Esperanto and Lojban, including a more scholarly discussion on 'rule-counting'.

Bob LeChevalier continues his regular 'column' written directly in Lojban, and without translation. All subscribers should have all the materials needed to read this text. We also have other texts of various levels of difficulty, including a simple and familiar fairy tale.

						   Table of Contents

News
  Finances						       --3
  Using	the Language					       --5
  Language Development Activities			       --6
  Products Status, Prices, and Ordering			       --9
  Publicity						      --11
  International	News					      --13
  News From the	Institute - Trademark Cancellation	      --14
A Survey of Lojban Applications				      --16
Response to Arnold Zwicky's 1969 Review	of Loglan 1	      --21
A First	Cut at a Linguistic Description	of Lojban	      --29
Computer Network Discussions on	Loglan/Lojban and Linguistics (and Esperanto and ...)	  --30
   including Lojban gismu Etymologies			      --60
Proposed Lojban	Machine	Grammar	Baseline Changes	      --67
Letters, Comments, and Responses - Vincent Burch, John Hodges, Bernard Golden, David Morrow    --70
le lojbo se ciska - some comparative artificial	linguistics, a story, and more	--76
Translations of	le lojbo se ciska			      --88
The Recent Press Release			  --Back Page (96)
Enclosures - cmavo change list,	Lojban Grammar in E-BNF	form

Computer Net Information

Via Usenet/UUCP/Internet, you can send messages and text files (including things for JL publication) to Bob at: [email protected]

You can also join the Lojban news-group.

Send your mailing address to: [email protected]

Send traffic for the news-group to: [email protected]

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. Usenet/Internet people can send to Compuserve addresses by changing the comma in the Compuserve address to a period: [email protected]

FIDOnet subscribers can also participate, although the connection is not especially robust. Write to us for details.

Whether you wish to participate in the news-group or not, it is useful for us to know your Compuserve or Usenet/Internet address.


We've been requested to more explicitly identify people who are referred to by initials in JL, and will regularly do so in this spot, immediately before the news section. Note that 'Athelstan' is that person's real name, used in his public life, and is not a pseudonym.

'pc' - Dr. John Parks-Clifford, Professor of Logic and Philosophy at the University of Missouri - St. Louis and Vice- President of la lojbangirz.; he is usually addressed as 'pc' by the community.

'Bob', 'lojbab' - Bob LeChevalier - President of la lojbangirz., and editor of Ju'i Lobypli and le lojbo karni.

'Nora' - Nora LeChevalier - Secretary/Treasurer of la lojbangirz., Bob's wife, author of LogFlash.

'JCB', 'Dr. Brown'- Dr. James Cooke Brown, inventor of the language, and founder of the Loglan project.

'The Institute', 'TLI' - The Loglan Institute, Inc., JCB's organization for spreading his version of Loglan, which we call 'Institute Loglan'.

'Loglan' - This refers to the generic language or language project, of which 'Lojban' is the most successful version, and Institute Loglan another. 'Loglan/Lojban' is used in discussions about Lojban where we wish to make it particularly clear that the statement applies to the generic language as well.

News

Finances

As most of you know, we sent out a fund-raising letter in November to all US, Canada, and Mexico subscribers, requesting that people contribute against their voluntary balance, or to donate extra money if their balance was positive. Our finances after JL13 had reached a crisis state, and action needed to be taken.

I want to thank those of you who responded to our fund-raising letter. We received over 100 contributions in response to that letter in 6 weeks, more than twice the number of letters we usually receive in 3 months in response to a JL issue. Clearly, you prefer to be bugged about finances in a direct letter rather in the pages of this issue. $3500 in contributions was received in November and December, and small amounts continue to trickle in. Of that money, most was payments against voluntary balances, but over $1000 of it was in donations. (We have sent out summary notices for tax purposes acknowledging all donations received during 1990. If you believe that you made a donation and did not get a receipt, please let us know.)

A secondary goal of the mailing was to identify people who were not reading our publications, and who wished to be dropped to a lower level of mailing, or who wished to be dropped entirely until at least after the textbook is published. Some 25 of the respondents requested such a drop in level.

A tertiary goal of the mailing was to identify as many as possible incorrect addresses. Our normal 3rd class bulk mailing has a label requesting forwarding, and guaranteeing forwarding postage. However, such notices are often ignored by the post office, which treats bulk mailings as being of the lowest priority. Moral: if you want to keep getting material from us, make sure we get a change of address from you when you move - don't rely on the post office to tell us. To our first class mailing, we received over 35 such notices of incorrect addresses, many of which also had no for- warding notice on file with the post office.

All in all the letter was a big success, much better than we had hoped for in response to our plea, especially given a recession in the economy and the distractions of world events. We finished the year with over $4000 in the bank, and are no longer living from week to week.

We aren't out of the woods yet, of course. While we have $4000 in the bank, voluntary balances total $4500. So we still technically owe more than we have. In addition, legal bills, which Jeff Prothero and Bob have committed to paying, constitute a recorded liability on our accounts of some $6000, making our net worth substantially negative. And we still need to accumulate $5000-$10000 for publication of the Lojban textbook. So don't hold back just because we're not on the point of bankruptcy anymore. Still, you can rest assured that we are in business for a while to come, and if you continue to respond when we are really in need, you can count on la lojbangirz. being around to support your Loglan/Lojban interests and efforts.

We have a head start on finances this year. Sylvia Rutiser has pledged a donation of at least $1000 in support of la lojbangirz. for the coming year.

Following is a summary of the la lojbangirz. financial report for 1990. This report has not yet been finalized and approved by the Board of Directors.

						 1990 Financial	Report

					      1990		  1989
Income

Contributions/Deferred Reimbursements	  $8523.37	      $8037.88
Donations				  $6164.90	      $7633.40
					  ________	      ________


Net Income				 $14688.27	     $15671.28

Expenses

Printing and Publications		  $3892.76	      $5643.92
Non-administrative Postage		  $1001.85	      $1903.91
Virginia Sales Tax Collections		    $34.02		$40.32
Royalties				    $60.00		$50.00
Office Supplies				   $434.86	       $494.13
Software				     $0.00	       $102.41
LogFest/LogFair				   $957.87	       $394.11
Advertising/Publicity/Conventions	    $39.70	      $1602.90
Telephone				  $1180.62	      $1239.53
Administrative Expenses	     $228.19		     $518.71
Legal Expenses		    $3082.00		    $4099.68
			    ________		    ________
			    $3310.19	  $3310.19  $4618.39  $4618.39
				 30%	  ________	 29%   _______
Net Expenses				 $11052.68	     $16089.62

Net Gain/Loss				  $3635.59	      (418.34)


				      la lojbangirz. Finances as of 1 January 1991

     Assets

     Cash in bank account				 $4276.02
     Undeposited checks					  $109.49
     Estimated Value of	Inventory			  $703.30
							 ________
     Net Assets						 $5089.51


     Liabilities

     Subscriber	Voluntary Balances Refundable
	  (See Attachment B)			       ($4550.36)
     Unpaid Legal Fees				       ($6360.00)
     VA	State Sales Tax	Collections			 ($12.83)

The most significant component of our huge drop in net worth is the unfunded legal liability. Jeff Prothero and Bob LeChevalier have committed to funding this liability in full. At our current expenditure rate, this will take about 2 years to pay off. With the February 1991 trademark ruling in our favor, additional legal fees are expected to be minimal.

Subscription Accounts as of 1 January 1991

The mailing list of The Logical Language Group, Inc. consisted of 735 accounts. Of these, 544 were currently active (level 0 or above). Known readership is about 50 more than this, due to multiple readers sharing single sub- scriptions. (The number has grown by over 35 in the first 6 weeks of 1991.)

Payment rates are highly correlated with level. 45-60% of those at level 1 or above maintain a positive balance. Only 15% of the level 0 recipients have positive balances. This is not sufficient for long term financial security; donations do not make up the difference and no extra money is left over for non-subscription activities.

As of 14 February, there were 92 subscribers at level 3, 100 at level 2, 55 at level 1, 332 at level 0, and 191 at level B for a total of 770. About 20% of our subscribers are non-U.S., with about 1/2 of these in Canada.

Sales or distributions of key products as of 1 January 1990:

gismu lists		 601				   
LogFlash/Mac LojFlash	 133				   
flash cards		  30				   
Lessons	beyond Lesson 1	 127				   

83 persons have donated a total of $13976.31 since incorporation (32/$7842.15 incorporation through end of 1989; 36/$5093.63 from before incorporation); 46 donors donated during 1990, including $1529 each from Bob & Nora and from Jeff Prothero that was applied to legal fees; others donated a net of $3106.94.

157 persons have net positive voluntary balances.

542 persons have net negative voluntary balances.

All others have 0 balances.

13 people have balances >$100, 40 have balances >$50, 89 have balances >$20. These are the people who are keeping us afloat. We need a much higher percentage of you in these categories.

Bob's proposed budget for 1991 (not yet approved by the Directors) presumes balance contributions of about $13400, legal donations of $6600 from Bob and Nora and Jeff Prothero, $4800 in donations from the rest of you, and expenses of around $25600, for a net loss of $729. To meet this budget, we need as many as possible of you to pay your share (as appropriate for your mailing level); otherwise we will repeat last year's financial crisis.

Using the Language

While we have been laying low for 6 months, husbanding our money carefully, the language has been progressing in several directions. This section discusses progress in making Loglan/Lojban a living language.

Conversation sessions - After several delays while we tried to find an optimal meeting day, Lojbanists in the Washington DC area have now started a weekly Lojban conversation/learning session. A group of 6 Lojbanists of varying skill levels has been meeting on Tuesday evenings at Bob and Nora's house to use the language. These 6 are Bob and Nora, Athelstan, Sylvia Rutiser, Darren Stalder, and Keith Lynch. Others have inquired and are expected to join within the next few weeks; if you are in or visiting the DC area and want to drop in, contact Bob at 703-385- 0273. You needn't be especially skilled in the language; none of the rest of us are, either. From the experience thus far, it is useful to know as much vocabulary as possible. You'll pick up the grammar easily (sentence complexity tends to be fairly simple), but a novice will spend most of the time hunting through words lists in order to follow what is being said. (On the other hand, Keith, who is a relative novice, says that he has learned some words quickly simply by looking them up over and over.)

The emphasis during the sessions is on actual Lojban conversation, and no English is spoken for about 2 hours (8-10PM). Before and after the 2-hour sessions, there are discussions of translation, grammar questions, and other things better handled in English. We are hoping to eventually start regularly offering a mini-lesson for new Lojbanists during the hour before the Lojban session.


Letter exchanges - Sylvia has been working on one other aspect of bringing Lojban to life. She has written to two Lojbanists who have written to us in Lojban, and is working on letters to a couple of others. (If you write a letter to us in Lojban, and include a translation so we can figure out any errors, you WILL get an answer, though we can't promise how quickly.) Michael Helsem has written a (complicated) letter on Lojban and poetry to Athelstan, as well as several to Bob, and Athelstan is working on an answer. Bob doesn't have time to respond to Lojban letters personally (except for really short ones), and passes them to Sylvia, who wants the practice. Of course, if she writes to you, please respond reasonably quickly so that she knows whether you understood any of her writing.


Translations and writings - As shown in this issue, there have also been several people working on writings and translations of various length and complexity. In addition, Jamie Bechtel has translated an Ursula Leguin short story, which we plan to publish after getting a copy- right release from the author. Bob has also intermittently worked on a translation of the first chapter of Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but this also needs a copyright release. He is also working on the initial story of Burton's Arabian Nights (the Scheherazade story), which is both not copyrighted and written in the style of the original Arabic, giving us a flavor of translation other than from English. (It is obviously preferable to translate things that are not copyrighted, or that the copyright has expired. Sherlock Holmes or Lewis Carroll, anyone?)

Carter translation - One translation project that has been started, albeit slowly, is the attempt to update two stories by Jim Carter, originally written in 1984 in an earlier version of Loglan, to fit the current language. These are full-fledged short stories, not just sentences or paragraphs, and are quite a bit longer than even the Saki short story translation published in JL10. The first being worked on is called 'Akira', and is a science fiction story; the other is called 'The Welding Shop'.

We are trying to involve as many people as possible in this effort, each taking a sentence or a paragraph, or even a couple of tanru. Since the vocabulary has changed so considerably since 1984, and Jim Brown's versions of the language have had so many defective tanru, volunteers can work on problems as small as a single word. For example, in Sylvia Rutiser's translation of the first paragraph of the Akira story, printed later in this issue, she was quite dissatisfied with the tanru she devised for 'to fall by parachute'. We welcome all suggestions for this concept, and any others in that paragraph. We also pose another paragraph for translation, which we ask all of you to work on, again even if only a word or two. Sylvia will compile the results for next issue. As more people become skilled in the language, we can pass out larger chunks of the text.


LogFair - We had a get-together at Bob and Nora's house, the last weekend in October. Turnout was small, and the discussion ranged over a wide area of topics. A smaller version of LogFest, we hope to hold future LogFairs at other locations besides the Washington DC area.


Logfest 91 - The annual meeting of la lojbangirz., and the associated celebration of Lojban, will be held a week later this year than in previous years, on the weekend of 22-23 June 1991, at Bob and Nora's house in the suburban Washington DC area. (We officially start on Friday night and end on Monday morning, but those two days tend to be primarily social.) The schedule change allows us to miss several competing activities that have prevented people from coming in the past. If you are planning to come and do not know how to get here, contact us by letter or phone at the address or phone given for la lojbangirz. (day or evenings); we are on a major rapid transit line and thus easily accessible to all modes of transportation.

The major design decisions about the language having been made before now, we are hoping to shift the emphasis of our gathering from language design to language use and application. There will thus be sessions on teaching and learning the language, including demonstrations of our teaching materials, Lojban conversation for novices as well as for more advanced students, group efforts at Lojban translation, etc. There also may be discussion of specific Lojban applications. There will be a limited amount of preplanned programming; call us the week before the gathering to find out details. On the other hand, most activities will be ad-hoc, determined by the interests of those present at any given time.

You can come for one day or the entire weekend; families are welcome. Most attendees who spend the entire weekend, bring sleeping bags or borrow blankets; we have plenty of floor space. Especially if coming from out-of-town, we recommend letting us know in advance that you are coming, how many, and when you expect to arrive and leave, so we can plan logistics; drop-ins are of course welcome, though. Based on previous years expenses, we ask for a voluntary donation of around $30 per person for the whole weekend to cover food, beverages, etc. Many give more, a few come who cannot contribute. (Money contributed on this weekend, unless specifically noted, is considered a donation towards LogFest expenses, and does not apply to voluntary bal- ances.)

We hope to see as many Lojbanists as possible at our activities this year.

Language Development Activities

A lot of work has been done in the area of language development, much of it by John Cowan, who in only several months has become the principal expert on the formal grammar (thus relieving Bob of a major burden).


Grammar baseline changes and BNF development - As reported in last issue, John aided in the final push for a grammar baseline, devising new designs for MEX (the grammar of mathematical expressions), the tense grammar, and the method of expressing letters and symbols. We did an awful lot of work in only a few weeks, and unfortunately, not all of it was perfect. John has found a few mistakes in further analysis.

Over the 6 months since the baseline, John has effectively done a complete analysis of the grammar, almost from scratch. He did this by developing an alternative way of describing the grammar, using a method called Extended Backus-Naur Form (E-BNF). Unlike the YACC form of the grammar (YACC is a tool for developing computer languages), published last issue, the E-BNF form is condensed and considerably easier to understand. John's BNF grammar, enclosed with this issue, requires only 4 pages of standard type. The E-BNF grammar is similar to the baseline machine grammar, including some minor proposals as described below.

The problem with an E-BNF grammar is that it cannot be verified as unambiguous using YACC. This required a lot of checking and cross-checking. In the process of doing this, every rule of the grammar had to be examined. Some things showed up as problems:

  • errors made in the last minute push for a baseline, sometimes only typos, other times rules that were accidentally deleted;
  • asymmetries between similar structures in the grammar, such as differing priority for logical connectives in compound bridi as compared to other logical connective structures;
  • rules that were clumsily constructed, often as fossils of earlier versions of the grammar when they were necessary.

John also volunteered to work on a Lojban parser, and in thinking about the parser design, proposed some minor changes that would make the design easier.

As a result of all of this analysis, John has proposed 19 changes to the baseline grammar, of which 3 were withdrawn after discussion. The 16 that remain may sound like a lot, but each is very minor, often affecting only 1 or 2 rules of the roughly 600 in the YACC grammar baseline. Even this overstates the effect on the average Lojban student's learning effort. Most of the changes are additions or enhancements to the language, and I doubt if any of the grammar changes proposed affect any text that has been written thus far in the language. Thus, the language can be considered quite stable, though clearly the grammar is not quite as mature as the gismu list, now baselined for 2 1/2 years.

The changes are described along with their purpose and justification in an article below. The principal design group has looked over these changes and accepted them, but publication of the proposals is a necessary step for a baseline change. Thus you have an opportunity to comment or ask questions about these changes, prior to a formal approval decision, expected at or before LogFest. Anyone who has worked in depth with the grammar, and wants to see the specific rule changes proposed, may write or send a computer-mail message to us, and we'll be happy to provide it.

There may be additional changes at this very low level up until the completion of the textbook and dictionary. These will be as a result of actual usage or problems discovered as a result of finally having a parser incorporating the complete set of rules. However, you shouldn't get the idea that the language is unstable because of these changes, requiring a significant effort at relearning, since they will almost certainly be changes in seldom-used features of the language. Ju'i Lobypli will continue to publish such proposals as they are presented and preliminarily approved.


cmavo list - As part of John Cowan's review, a couple of lexemes (word grammatical categories) have been eliminated, and the associated cmavo freed. (As a side note, we will be trying to phase out use of the word 'lexeme' for these categories, in favor of the Lojban word "selma'o", (from se cmavo) or cmavo word category. 'Lexeme', used by Jim Brown and adopted by everyone else, turns out to be an incorrect linguistic term for the concept - the appropriate term is really 'grameme'. But since few people know these jargon terms anyway, we would rather use the non-jargon Lojban word.)

As a result of two place structure changes, we had to make some minor changes to associated gismu in selma'o BAI, and to add one new cmavo to that selma'o. A couple of additional words were independently proposed, for various reasons.

Since the cmavo list has NOT been baselined, the changes listed later in this issue are approved and now in force (although some of them are technically dependent on approval of the grammar baseline change). We provide the list on a separate page for people who wish to attach it to their cmavo lists. Alternatively (and probably preferably), you can manually update your copy of the cmavo lists to reflect these changes. No new publication of the cmavo list is expected prior to a preliminary baseline about 6 months before the dictionary is done. John Cowan is working on a catalog describing each selma'o and its grammar, with examples of each usage; this will not be done for several months.


Lack of gismu-making - There were 20 gismu approved or proposed for making at last LogFest. We had commitments from several people to help with the source language look- up. Unfortunately, some of these people failed to come through. As a result, we have only partial input on Hindi source words and no input at all on Arabic sources. The other source language research has been ready for months. We are pursuing other alternate researchers, and ask any members of the community who know either language to volunteer your assistance either to suggest source words or check others work. (You should have a bilingual dictionary if you are not fluent in the language.)

Because of this, the words have not been constructed, and we have downgraded the priority of producing a revised gismu list incorporating the new words and updated and clarified place structures for each word.


Place structure review - In conjunction with the addition of words to the gismu list, we have been conducting a slow review of the place structure of every word in the gismu list. The review includes updates of Roget's Thesaurus categories for each word; Athelstan did a rough-cut at as- signing these categories while we were reviewing the list for baseline over 2 years ago. An effort is being made to ensure that place structures are consistent for words in the same Roget category.

You can hardly imagine the difficulty of this review; it takes total mastery of the gismu list to do a comprehensive check, and only Bob has achieved that. Others are reviewing pieces of the list, and Bob is checking their suggestions. (All readers are encouraged to pose questions and suggestions about place structures, and these will be considered.) Of course Bob's higher priority is textbook writing, but the review must be completed before the textbook is done, since we don't want to have examples with inconsistent place structures.

Remember that place structures will be a long-evolving part of the language, and will not even be considered baselined at dictionary publication (though publication of a dictionary will inherently make changes much more difficult). This is because the place structures implicitly contain the meaning of the words, meanings that will never be static, and cannot truly be defined until there are significant numbers of language users.

On the other hand, none of us who are speaking, writing, or translating in Lojban have been significantly hindered by nebulous place structures. We make the best guess we can, and use paraphrases if a listener doesn't understand, thus bypassing any confusion.

Thus, we have demonstrated what we have often claimed, YOU DO NOT NEED TO MEMORIZE THE PLACE STRUCTURES TO USE LOJBAN. As you use the language, you will master them practically by osmosis, making mistakes and then learning from them. But mistakes are useful, too; they help us define the weak points in the place structures, and in some cases indicate that normal usage of a word differs from the place structure that we devised.


gismu making errors of the past - As a side project, late at night or when he can't concentrate (seemingly much too often it seems), Bob has been going back through the computer outputs that generated the gismu 3 years ago, an extracting the scores and etymologies that led to the current word being chosen. The project is roughly half done.

Along the way, unfortunate discoveries have occurred. In about 5% of the words, some type of manual error was made in the rush to compile the list. In half of these or so, the error is insignificant: an erroneous score or cross- reference error. In the rest, often due to Bob's sloppy handwriting or typos, the word recorded for a concept was not the highest scoring one. In most cases, the word actually selected differs by only one character from what it should be, but given the nature of the scoring algorithm, this sometimes leads to a significantly lower recognition score.

In short, we screwed up sometimes. The result is not a severe problem, and changing the words wasn't even considered - the actual etymologies of individual words is simply not that important to any of Loglan's goals. The only requirement is for neutrality. Since the errors are small in number and fairly random, the only effect is a trivial increase in learning difficulty. And this increase is real only if the recognition scores used to decide on the words actually do correlate with learnability of the words.

A more systematic error was found in our Lojban transcription of Russian words. Though the check has only been cursory, it appears that in several cases, we made mistakes in Lojbanizing the Russian vowels, which frequently change in sound depending on the declension, and on the syllable stress. As a result, the Russian con- tribution to some words will be incorrect, and learning for Russian students of Lojban presumably slightly more difficult. Again, though, the effect is not expected to be significant, and we have data that will allow us to accurately measure the effect, if any of this systematic error. (Lojbanization of Russian words inherently has systematic errors due to declensions that shift and sometimes omit sounds.)

Once the computer lists have been verified, we will make the etymologies available in hard copy or electronic form. Data is being stored in Lojbanized phonetic spelling. We do not plan in the short term to publish a list showing the actual source words, primarily because we would need special text fonts and alphabets on our computers. However, a sample of the intermediate work appears in a later article this issue. This effort is a low priority one, though how much time we spend on it will partly depend on how much interest is shown by you readers.


Computer Network Discussions - There have been numerous discussions of Lojban's design on the lojban-list computer mailing network, which now has over 100 readers. These are generally highly specialized discussions, and often rather long-winded, so we cannot even hope to summarize them here. Two major topics in the last couple of months have been the expression of intervals, the possible need for special tenses to describe relativistic situations, and the desire by some readers for a formal theory describing the seman- tics of the language. Discussions on these topics continue, and we are archiving everything that is said. If you have particular interest in one of these topics, let us know, and we may discuss it in more detail, or offer a special-order publication consisting of transcripts of the discussion.


Products Status, Prices, and Ordering

We have no new products to announce this issue, although significant progress was made on several that will hopefully come to fruition within the next several months.

A reminder that our pricing policy includes a 20% discount for a prepaid order over $20 (prepaid = positive balance exceeding the price at the time of shipment). There is a 20% surcharge for non-North-American orders; the 20% discount on large prepaid orders will cancel the overseas surcharge. The overseas surcharge may have to rise due to increased postal fees, but not until at least next issue. Virginia orders should add 4.5% sales tax. Note also that for software, there is no surcharge for MS- DOS 3 1/2" diskettes, but you must specify in your order if you want them.

We cannot promise to fill an order unless it is prepaid; our finances remain too thin.


Textbook - One effort that has not made much progress has been the Lojban textbook. About 45 pages were done by LogFair in late October, but almost no work has been done since then. There are a lot of reasons for this, but in the final analysis Bob simply hasn't managed to treat this effort as the highest priority, as he and everyone else want. Too many short-term distractions and emergencies. If blame must be placed, most of us have some part in the delay; the final responsibility is, however, Bob's. Hopefully, things are improving in this regard.

LogFlash - The news on LogFlash is a good as the news on the textbook is bad. A version of LogFlash capable of handling the August cmavo list turned out to be almost trivial to produce. (This version is currently called LogFlash 3, but the set may be renumbered before publication). Bob has gone through all of the words using this program and is working in Maintenance mode at mastering the set.

Meanwhile Nora has been working on the enhanced revision to LogFlash, which will handle the updated gismu list (with 100 character definitions instead of 40 character ones), and add a wide variety of new features, described in previ- ous issues. The program will also provide the capability to log data needed for research into the language learning process, including a test of Jim Brown's recognition score algorithm.

Nora's update is mostly complete, and the program is being tested by a couple of Lojban students, most notably Sylvia Rutiser, who has gone through the gismu list in only a few weeks and is working on her second pass.

The changes to support cmavo list learning with the new version are just as easy as for the old version, and Sylvia is also nearly through her first pass on the cmavo using this program. The results of using LogFlash have proven awesome when we sit down on Tuesday evenings to speak in the language. Bob and Sylvia only rarely need to look at a word list, while those who haven't studied the words spend a lot of time paging through the lists.

We hope to have gismu list and cmavo list versions of LogFlash available by LogFest in June, or perhaps the next Ju'i Lobypli issue thereafter. A rafsi list version will probably wait an additional few months; we have yet to receive any reports that anyone besides Bob and Nora have started studying the rafsi using the existing LogFlash 2.

All of these updates are for PC-compatible MS-DOS machines. Dave Cortesi is working on an update to his Hypercard program equivalent for the MacIntosh; we have had no discussions with Richard Kennaway regarding an update to his MacIntosh version, since the Hypercard version, while a bit slower in execution speed, uses the Mac voice synthesizer function to provide spoken Lojban along with the flash cards. We expect Dave's program to be available at approximately the same time as the PC LogFlash version.

Efforts to produce a UNIX C version of LogFlash appear to have stalled out, and given the closeness of the new PC version will likely be delayed until after it is complete. We get lots of volunteers to make this conversion (for UNIX and other machines), but few if any have ever produced anything. The new program is over 4000 lines of code and is non-trivial to convert. We are thus not planning to distribute the LogFlash source. Conversion volunteers should know both Turbo-Pascal and C and the problems in converting from the former to the latter. There is a lot of input/output processing, and the last (and most successful) conversion effort stalled out on con- verting this processing.


Parser - As noted above, John Cowan has started working on a Lojban parser which will reflect the baseline grammar. This much-awaited software will finally allow us to do the proper test of the grammar that is needed, as well as provide an excellent teaching tool to students of the lan- guage with appropriate computers. John expects to have the parser available for testing by LogFest in June. Priority for test copies will be for people with highly positive balances and those who have actually been writing in the language. General distribution will of course depend on how testing goes.


Other Software - The random sentence generator update has been held up pending John Cowan's grammar change proposals, discussed elsewhere in this issue. David Bowen reports a simple equivalent program using the UNIX-based AWK language; write to us for details if interested. There have been no changes to the lujvo-making program, which may be integrated with the future version of LogFlash 2 (rafsi- teaching).


Software Pricing - Software is the only product la lojbangirz. produces right now that we make any significant profit on. Thus, we need significant sales of these items to help cover all the people who aren't paying for our pro- ducts. Indeed, our financial troubles last year were no doubt in part due to very low software sales and our lack of new products in this area.

Because of our financial situation, we cannot distribute our software for free. If we get more of you to pay for the printed matter, we can reconsider this, but no change is likely until well after textbook publication. We may continue to offer the old software more liberally, recognizing that it will be obsolete and much inferior to the new version. This will allow us to support those who can't afford to pay but want to learn the language, while providing significant value to our paying customers. Exceptions, if any, will be for people who perform volunteer efforts valuable enough that someone else donates money to cover the cost of their copy, or who demonstrate by trying to use the language that our support of their use of LogFlash will bring results.

When the new versions of the program come out, there will be a substantial discount (at least 50%) for upgrades from people who have the program and a positive balance. People who have contributed money but do not have a positive bal- ance may receive a lesser discount. As always, prepaid orders over $20 will gain a 20% discount.

Comments on this policy are welcome.

(Note that old versions of LogFlash are still available as Shareware on the Amrad BBS - see the introductory brochure for the telephone number. We would of course prefer that you register and pay for this software, getting the latest version, but have no complaint if those who cannot pay obtain the program in this way. We will pro- bably continue to offer a less-advanced Shareware version of LogFlash for the indefinite future, since the principle of mass distribution of language information is a fundamental one for la lojbangirz.)


Postal Rates - The recent increase in US Postal Rates was between 15 and 20%. This amounts to 1-2 cents/page added to our production costs. This renders our temporary price increase of last summer necessarily permanent - it is not yet clear whether we are selling materials for more than we pay for them. If not, you can expect a price rise next issue, probably to 12 cents/page US/Canada and 15 cents/page overseas; we'll continue to absorb the slight difference between US and Canadian postage costs.

We are considering going to second-class mailing for Ju'i Lobypli and/or le lojbo karni, though possibly not for a few months. For a relatively small cost difference, we would get better speed of delivery and more assurance that you will actually get the issue. Mailing in the same class as junk mail is risky.

One requirement of second-class mailing is demonstration that most of our readership actually wants to receive the publication. The best way to prove this is with paid subscriptions, with explicit letters also valuable. Thus it is important that we hear from you regularly, preferably with money; at least once per year is very desirable.


9-digit Zip - The new rates also come with new rules, though we aren't yet certain just what these rules are. It is possible that we will need to use Zip+4 9-digit codes on our US mailings to get optimal postage rates, and possibly even to get assured delivery. Thus, whenever you send us a change of address, please tell us the Zip+4 number as soon as you know it.

Rhyming Dictionaries - Michael Helsem announces availability of Lojban gismu rhyming dictionaries for prospective poets. Price $5 ea. Specify normal or half- rhyme versions. Send to Michael Helsem, 1031 DeWitt Circle Dallas TX 75224.

Publicity

Logo - Surprisingly to me at least, there was a clear winner in the logo balloting from Ju'i Lobypli #13. The selected logo was supposed to be on this issue; maybe next time. The winner, designed by Guy Garnett, received a large majority of positive votes among the 35-40 ballots received before the October deadline, and was first choice on many of them. In fact, only 5 ballots were marked as disliking the selection. Of these 5, 3 were in favor of the 2nd place finisher (a distant 2nd, but with far more 'likes' than 'dislikes'). This 2nd place logo, the in- tersecting planes design by Jamie Bechtel, apparently suffered some vote loss from being hand-drawn compared to Guy's polished computer-generated images. (Almost all negative votes on this design also voted against all other hand-drawn designs.) As a result, we intend to try this design on some publications as well, after computerizing it, and see what people think. Thus we have two logos, which were opposed by only 2 people among the voters.

A couple of people sent in new designs after the ballot was produced, and I unfortunately missed one by Kerry Pearson in preparing the ballot. But we needed to have a final decision, and these will be the logos for at least the next few years.

A few people voted for none of the selections, indicating a misunderstanding of the purpose of the logo 'contest'. These people identified "logos" with commercialism, and wanted us to have a less commercial image. A couple suggested that instead we devise a "logo" that was more of a slogan, perhaps graphically displayed. This isn't practical for a few reasons:

  • the logo is intended to be a symbol and graphic images make better symbols than text, however it is displayed. "Logo" is a shortening of "logograph", which more clearly indicates its purpose;
  • among other places, the logo will probably be used on the textbook, where there will already be plenty of text (the title, subtitle, and the 'blurb on the back'). The purpose of the logo is to leave a strong image that stands out against all that writing;
  • there is a commercial purpose to the logo. It is a symbol for la lojbangirz. as well as, and possibly more than, for the language (this unfortunately may not have been in the minds of the designers and voters, but, oh well). While we are a non-profit organization, we must operate as a business, sending out correspondence, fund- raising letters, etc. The logo, printed by computer with our letterhead, will enhance the visual appearance of our business correspondence, calling attention to our letter. (At least this is how the theory goes.)
  • a slogan in any language other than Lojban (such as English) would suggest a bias toward that language, and we are fighting hard to avoid such biases. If the text were in Lojban, non-Lojbanists (and some inactive supporters) wouldn't know what it means, making it a less meaningful symbol than the words might intend;
  • we already have a Lojban slogan of a sort. Claude Van Horne coined ".e'osai ko sarji la lojban." a couple of years ago, and we have produced and distributed calligraphic buttons with that slogan as well as used it on many of our publications. We are of course interested in more Lojban slogans and aphorisms, but this requires you to make them up, and the issue is any case separate from the logo issue.


Electronic Distribution - We have had a committee non- working on a policy for electronic distribution of our materials since LogFest. For various reasons, the committee pretty much fell apart within a couple of weeks, and efforts to get the effort going again have so far been to no avail. Athelstan did write up his mini-lesson, which will be a centerpiece of the electronic material to be distributed; we hope this will be finalized for publication with JL15. Thereafter, all non-paying people above level 0 will have to demonstrate their interest by attempting to complete the exercises in the mini-lesson.

There has been considerable debate about the extent of things to be distributed. Ju'i Lobypli issues and the textbook are nearly impossible to put on-line, even with a file server, because so much of the text is formatted and relies on greater than 80-column lines. This issue, for example, is over 400K bytes of data. We are also reluctant to post non-baselined language description materials since we have no way to ensure that people eventually get updates when the baseline occurs. Word lists, the machine grammar, the brochure, and Athelstan's mini-lesson are likely to be available initially. I won't promise a date for an electronic package because it is pretty much out of my hands as long as the committee exists; it is likely that the package will be available after LogFest in late June.


Computer Network - With help from John Cowan and Keith Lynch and Eric Raymond (who supports lojban-list and John's and Bob's computer accounts), Lojban has been highly visible on the UNIX-oriented Usenet/Internet computer network, providing us with worldwide communications with our supporters, and highly successful recruiting. We have been especially visible in an electronic news/discussion group called "sci.lang", which is a major focus for linguistics professionals, researchers, and students, worldwide. In particular, Lojban has come up as the principal topic of discussion during two periods of several weeks during the last 6 months. (Discussions in these groups tend to flow from topic to topic forming a highly intertwined set of 'threads of discussion', which eventually fade out as people turn to new topics that have caught their attention. Thus, Lojban has been mentioned several times in connection with several topics, but the 'thread' caught people's attention twice in particular.)

In the first instance, Lojban (and Loglan in general) came up as a result of a discussion of the Sapir-Whorf Hy- pothesis. John Cowan stepped into the discussion, and then Bob 'weighed in' in response to some fairly critical challenges from linguists. Much to our pleasure, Lojban withstood this first challenge from the linguistic academic community, gaining respect from several people and a will- ingness on their part to see how the project develops scientifically.

Given the disastrous history of Loglan's relationship with the academic community, this was welcome indeed. While attracting interest from several linguistic academics in the 1960's, the first publication of Loglan 1 drew a critical review from Professor Arnold Zwicky, in a 1969 is- sue of Language, one of the foremost linguistics journals. While this review was a friendly, constructive critique (this intent was confirmed in a recent letter exchange between Bob and Dr. Zwicky, now a leader in the field of language typology), Dr. Brown apparently took its challenges as highly negative.

For whatever reason, the review went unanswered, and Loglan has suffered for 20 years as a result. The Institute's attempts to get funding from the National Science Foundation were rejected, with several peer reviewers citing the unanswered critique. Dr. Brown eventually gave up on the academic community and tried to "go commercial", a disaster that led in turn to the financial and political quagmire that nearly killed Loglan in the 1980's before Bob and others started the Lojban effort.

Now we've again caught the interest of the academic community, and are taking measures to ensure that Loglan/Lojban is taken seriously and treated with respect. This first sci.lang discussion was the critical milestone. In the special section on Lojban and Linguistics below, John Cowan has done a superb effort at editing and condensing the non-linear discussion into what seems like a lively conversation, loaded with important ideas and detailed examples of Lojban.

John then followed up this discussion by re-examining the old Zwicky review. While it is far too late to directly answer the critique in Language, John drafted a response to the key challenges posed by Zwicky, demonstrating that the Lojban design fully meets Zwicky's challenge. This response is also printed in the special section below, and will shortly be posted to sci.lang.

The second discussion stemmed from a comparative discussion of artificial languages, concentrating on Esperanto and Ido. Nick Nicholas, an Australian Esperantist, posted a Suzanne Vega song translated into several artificial languages (later added to by Ivan Derzhanski), whereupon Bob joined in with a Lojban version. These translations, and some associated discussion, appear in le lojbo se ciska in this issue. A few of the Lojban- related postings are also included, with more planned for next issue (since the discussion continues).

We received several compliments for our direct support of discussions on the network. Loglan continues its trend as being the first 'successful' artificial language to have its development process openly observed and participated in by the academic community.

Both network discussions were quite productive in terms of recruiting - we've added over 50 people as a result. Nick (a Greek native) and Ivan (a Bulgarian native) have both expressed interest in learning Lojban; Nick has expressed especial interest in joining our growing group of Lojban poets.


ApaLingua, Tand and Factsheet Five - Lojban continues to appear on occasion in the amateur and alternative press. Mike Gunderloy reviews each of our issues in Factsheet Five, and a recent issue (incidentally the first one to mention Institute publications) gave us our largest crop of new Lojbanists yet, over a dozen. This, coupled with the sci.lang discussions and our continuing word-of-mouth spread led to almost 1 new person per day throughout the first two months of 1991.

An amateur publication on linguistics, a sort of printed sci.lang, has been started, and several Lojbanists are among the participants. ApaLingua is published bi-monthly, and consists of several pages written and submitted by each of the subscribers. Like the computer networks, each per- son poses new topics for discussion and responds to the writings of others. There were over 30 contributors at the time of the sample issue Bob received in November, and it was clear that the group would be expanding rapidly. la lojbangirz. intends to participate in ApaLingua, but at this point Bob has had too many irons in the fire, and has committed to making substantial progress on the textbook before adding this one.

Tand, another amateur publication has had discussions of Lojban for the last 3 issues. The 3rd issue, appearing after JL13, included a lot of reader feedback, some positive and more negative. We've pretty much decided to see where these discussions lead before responding further. Tand comes out infrequently, and the type of comments being raised are best answered by people looking at our publications to avoid our repeating (to editor Mark Manning's great distaste) large quantities of the same type of thing that appears here in JL.


Evecon and Arisia - la lojbangirz. participated in this year's edition of Evecon, the largest science fiction convention here in the Washington DC area. Bob, Nora, and Athelstan gave several talks during the New Years weekend, and staffed a booth that provided information about Lojban.

Meanwhile, Coranth D'Gryphon attended Arisia, a February Boston area science fiction convention. Several new people signed up, making it the most successful convention recruiting effort yet among those not attended by Bob and Nora. Coranth is planning to follow this effort up with a class this spring taught through an MIT extension program.


GURT - Bob and Athelstan are planning to attend the Georgetown University Round Table of Linguistics, an annual event of significant stature in the linguistics community. A focus of this year's meetings, the first week of April, is on language acquisition and education. We are planning to use these meetings to expand our contacts with members of the linguistic community, and move towards an examination by that community of the potential value for Lojban in linguistic research and language education.


Another Trip: Will This One Happen? - Bob and Nora have been promising themselves a trip to California for two years now (Bob grew up in the San Francisco area), but it always seemed to be another 2 months away; there always seemed to be another deadline. THIS time we're a bit more optimistic, and are planning a late April trip to the Bay Area. We'll probably be able to come for a week and associated weekends. This one should really come off, since Nora's boss is encouraging her to take an April vacation. Occasional considerations of a side trip to Los Angeles and San Diego are being set aside; too many trips have been cancelled because of excess ambition (and Nora needs a REAL vacation).

Our intent is to give several talks on Lojban while there, both to existing Lojbanists and to potential recruits. We want to meet as many of you as possible, so try to set aside a little time for us. We badly need volunteers to help us organize these meetings, and provide or locate places we can get together. Call Bob immediately - (703) 385-0273 - if you can help, given the short time frame. We will try to put out a notice by mail a week or two ahead of time indicating our itinerary. Since Bob has sisters in the Santa Cruz and mid-Peninsula areas, and close friends in Berkeley, these are definite stops for at least a night or two each.


Athelstan Finally Makes a Trip - After two trips in two years being cancelled at the last minute, Athelstan says he will not promise trips in advance again. As a result (so he suspects), things finally started going right. After over a year and a half with one car problem after another, he got his car mobile enough to make it out of the DC area. Indeed, he made it all the way to Salt Lake City, where he stayed a couple weeks with Lojbanist Diane Lehmann and got her started learning the language. (He then rebuilt his car as he drove home, having packed a spare part for everything and finding he needed most of those spares. ba'u)


Press Release - In February, following the legal victory discussed under Institute News below, la lojbangirz. put out its first press release. This news release, a copy of which appears after this news section, went to over 300 members of the business and scientific press. The response thus far has been small, but with the world situation as lively as it has been, we wouldn't expect to be an immediate priority. Also, since each response is likely to turn into a news or magazine story, a few responses will go a long way.

International News

Canadian checks OK - After having three of them make it through our bank with no problem and no service charge, I am happy to tell our Canadian friends that we can accept checks in Canadian currency if it is difficult or expensive to get US currency checks. We deposit the check, and the bank then adjusts the deposit for the exchange rate about a week later, which seems to be within a few cents of the standard rate.

Remember that for other countries, we can accept a check on your non-US bank in your currency, but there is a service charge of US$3.50. We can also accept Master Card and Visa balance contributions with a service charge of 6%.


Athelstan's European trip aborted - In JL13, we reported that there were last minute problems threatening to cancel Athelstan's planned trip to the Netherlands World Science Fiction convention, and then around several countries of Europe. The problems continued to grow, and Athelstan's then-dead car made it impossible for him to get around and solve them. So he didn't go. We are still hoping to have some Lojbanist make it to Europe in the next couple of years, but I think we're going to avoid promises until there is something definite.


Non-North American Lojbanists and the Fund-raising Drive - The November fund raising letter did not go to our overseas friends. Except for US and Canada subscribers, the postage cost was too high for the potential gain. Instead, we are sending those people who were on the list in November a somewhat modified form of the letter, representing the slightly different circumstances and our more liberal policy in support of non-North American Lojbanists. Note that balances reflected in the letters do not include the price of this issue.

Simply put, for those JL subscribers with balances (in November when the letters were prepared) less than US$-30 who have never responded, we must hear from you by the next issue of JL in early May, or you will be dropped to level '0'. If you have responded, but not in the past year, we still want to hear from you, but can allow you support down to US$-50 before taking action to cut our losses. If your balance is below US$-50, we need to hear from you by the next JL issue, at minimum, to keep sending at this level.

Ideally, as many as possible will send some money, even if not enough to fully cover our costs. We're doing our best to subsidize non-US Lojbanists, but we need your help. Please respond.


Non-English Materials - We now have French, Italian, and Esperanto translations of the "What is Lojban? la lojban. mo" brochure. The latter two are still only in the roughest of drafts, not even correctly typed in. We need volunteers to work with our translations, to polish them, to put them into computerized formats, and to add to the list of languages.

News From the Institute

Trademark - The most significant news regarding The Loglan Institute, Inc. is that la lojbangirz. has won its challenge of TLI's trademark registration of the name 'Loglan'. The decision was rendered in 'summary judgement'; the issues were sufficiently clear-cut that there was no need for a trial. Following are excerpts from the decision. la lojbangirz. is 'Petitioner' and The In- stitute is 'Respondent':

"The facts of record clearly establish petitioner's genuine interest in the subject matter of the proceeding and support a reasonable belief that petitioner will be damaged by the continued existence of the registration sought to be cancelled..."

"...both respondent and petitioner have filed documents evidencing use of the term LOGLAN as the generic name or the common descriptive name of a language developed by Dr. James Cooke Brown. Even Dr. Brown uses the term as the name of the language... There is apparently a community of persons interested in the development of the language who have conducted very active communications with one another and without exception they use the term Loglan to refer to the language, not as a trademark for the grammars and dictionaries which contain the words that make up, and information pertaining to, the construction of the language. ... In addition to the foregoing, we note that the Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary Ninth Edition, 1985-1986, lists the term, "loglan" and defines it as "logical language" ...

"... the evidence indicates that it was not until 1985 that respondent first expressed the view that LOGLAN was its trademark. ... Prior to that time, the term was used by Dr. Brown, respondent and others simply as the designation for the developing language, although it is reasonable to conclude that Dr. Brown and the Institute may have mistakenly believed that such use by others was with recognition of their purported proprietary rights.

"In view of the foregoing, it is our opinion that LOGLAN, being a generic term, does not function as a trademark for respondent's goods.

"... petitioner's motion for summary judgement ... is granted as to the issue of the generic nature of the term LOGLAN. The petition for cancellation is granted and the registration will be cancelled in due course."


We had filed on several other grounds, including fraudulent filing of the application for the trademark due to the several false statements therein and abandonment through failure to continually use the term as a trademark. The fraud claim was denied because we did not prove "fraud- ulent misconduct accompanied by some element of willfulness or bad faith". The abandonment claim was declared moot since the term wasn't a valid trademark in the first place.

Lest there be any doubt, I/we have nothing personal against Dr. Brown. Indeed, we honor his genius in creating the language. We believe his policies have been mistaken and have as a result stultified the progress of the language, but this assertion didn't need a legal battle to be resolved. One only needs to observe the astounding relative success la lojbangirz. has had in promoting Loj- ban, which IS Loglan in every sense of the word, through our more liberal policies. (During the last three years, we have outgrown the Institute by a large measure in spite of the republication of Loglan 1 by TLI and several thousand dollars in advertising by TLI.)

The Institute can appeal the trademark decision, but such appeals historically have been considered frivolous, unless buoyed by significant new evidence. Since this decision was based on a matter of law, and sufficient facts to sup- port the decision were provided by The Institute on its own, possible bases for appeal are minimal.

We thus consider the legal cloud on the language to be lifted. Threats of legal action by The Institute, originally against Bob and Jeff Prothero (before la lojbangirz. was incorporated), have been retracted or rendered invalid through this decision. People can use the name Loglan public-ally without fear of legal challenge; our success should cause TLI to have second thoughts before engaging in further legal harassment. The legal action was expensive (we intend NOT to pursue TLI for reimbursement of legal expenses, in the interest of ending the dispute), and it certainly has distracted Bob and others from more useful endeavors on behalf of the language (Bob may have put as much as 6 man-months into legal-related research that could have gone into textbook writing).

The battle is over. It is time to move ahead, and to settle the war. Bob has written to Dr. Brown, proposing a settlement between our two efforts that would result in unity of the Loglan Project behind a Lojban recognized by Brown as a legitimate version of Loglan. The offer includes generous incentives towards unity that will en- hance Dr. Brown's influence and stature in the community, and aid TLI in performing the Loglan research for which it was originally founded. la lojbangirz. would be the principal interface with the community and the world, working to gain acceptance and support for the language. If accepted, Loglan would become the first major artificial language project to mend a split, giving us added credibility in convincing the world of Loglan's value. In addition, our combined resources would get more and better quality work accomplished in less time.

We ask readers who have also supported The Institute to write to Dr. Brown and encourage him to move towards such a settlement.


JCB's finances, TLI Fund-Raiser Fails - As a footnote to the legal decision, Dr. Brown reported in his latest Lognet newsletter that he suffered a serious personal financial setback. As a result, he no longer can financially support The Institute. Indeed, he had to take a large portion of the Institute's recent income to pay himself back in preference to using that money to further promote his version of the language.

This setback was coupled with a fund raising drive that coincidentally occurred at about the same time as our own. Dr. Brown sought donations sufficient to pay for another Scientific American advertisement, a cost of $3500. Apparently, less than half that amount was raised. This is probably a good thing for TLI, since Dr. Brown projected a gain of perhaps 150 new people from this advertising, an expense of over $20 per person - as much as the price of the book he is selling.

We note that several of the large donors Dr. Brown listed contributed comparable amounts in our own fund raising drive. We did raise the $3500 and more in our effort, and are putting it towards producing more and better information about the language. Bob and Nora, and other major contributors, have made donations rather than loans. As a result, la lojbangirz. is relatively debt-free (we technically owe our subscribers their balances, and Bob, Nora, and Jeff Prothero have pledged donations against the legal debt). Dr. Brown meanwhile claims an enormous financial debt from the Institute (over $35,000 prior to la lojbangirz.'s founding).


TL to be revived? - The Institute has been trying to improve on its accomplishments. Several months ago, it announced that The Loglanist, its old journal somewhat comparable to Ju'i Lobypli, was going to be revived under a new name starting in December 1990. This didn't happen. A specific editor was named in the first 1991 LogNet, but we have no further word on what is planned.


Another Major Revision to Institute Loglan? - We have mentioned previously (and lambasted) a proposal to devise a series of 'declensions' for each gismu in Institute Loglan.

Arguments in favor and opposing this revision have appeared in each issue of Lognet for the past year, with Dr. Brown sounding alternatively supportive and skeptical of the proposal; Bob McIvor, who proposed it, is the other member of 'The Loglan Academy' that approves changes to Institute Loglan. Dr. Brown has indicated that a decision is expected this spring.

Interestingly, Dr. Brown claims that the Loglan engineering effort is complete, even while contemplating such major changes as this one.


Shareware? - The last issue of TLI's Lognet surprised Bob with a minor note in response to a letter. The letter suggested that TLI software be distributed as 'Shareware', and Dr. Brown indicated that the idea would be considered. Bob's and Nora's intention to distribute LogFlash as Share- ware triggered the intellectual property disputes that caused the current rift. While Shareware software can technically preserve copyrights, it causes those copyrights to be of minimal financial value, since Shareware is freely copyable. Is The Institute about to make a landmark change in its policy? We'll be watching.

A Survey of Lojban Applications

Last issue, we gave a rather thorough progress report on the language development progress, and we provide updates on that status each issue. A couple of people have pointed out that we haven't provided comparable information on other aspects of the language - how Loglan/Lojban will be used. On our registration forms, we ask you to indicate one or more of several reasons for your interest in the language, and we have been remiss in not addressing those areas directly in these pages.

There is a reason for this, of course. Nearly all of the productive work being done is going towards the language development process. That phase is wrapping up, and people are slowly starting to use the language. As a result we can expect the other areas of interest to flower as more people learn the language. Meanwhile, we try to focus on the other areas one at a time, to keep people thinking about them.

This is probably all that can really be done at this point. Until we have a community of fluent speakers, Lojban will lack credibility among professionals in several of the interest areas. Moreover, we will have trouble raising funds through grants and contracts that would greatly advance our capabilities in these areas.

Still, it is worthwhile to have a brief review of each area. Following is a summary, from Bob's perspective, of each area:


The Language Development Process - Of course, we have reported on specific achievements in the language development as they have occurred. In JL13, we surveyed where the language development process stood with regard to individual areas of the design. There is a broader picture, though, that might be missed in looking too closely.

Loglan has been the most public language development project in terms of public knowledge of the decisions being made and input into the decision-making itself. Indeed, it was this public involvement that led to the big political squabbles of the last decade. People who have been involved in the language development feel that the language is theirs.

A side-effect of such a political dispute has been quite positive; we have pretty much isolated the politics of the "movement" from the language development process itself. The community understands that it is listened to by those who make day-to-day design decisions. This has allowed the process to proceed by consensus; there have been few non- unanimous decisions during the development process.

Ideas and proposals are talked out thoroughly if proposed. A recent discussion of relativistic tenses on the computer mailing list overflowed every reader's mailbox with dozens of pages of discussion. The discussion continues, and is far from a consensus; no change is being made. Meanwhile, the several dozen minor cmavo changes and grammar changes have so far attracted minimal comment (and they can hardly be more abstruse than the interaction of light-cones at relativistic speeds). They are expected to be adopted by consensus.

The extent of the Loglan development process has had a second effect, also a benefit. There have been few splinter efforts. Lojban itself is one; the splinter has become the mainstream. The Institute version of the language is ever-changing, and drawing small numbers in spite of massive advertising and a completed book. Jim Carter's language project remains essentially a one-person effort, and Jim himself remains a Lojban supporter. Meanwhile la lojbangirz. grows at an ever-accelerating rate.

An effect of the dozens of person-years of work put into Loglan/Lojban is that it has become a new standard in artificial language development. Most previous artificial languages have been predominantly the result of one person's work. But, now, no individual language inventor can hope to put as much work into a language design as we all have. Barring some major new insight into the nature of language, any future language development project hoping to improve upon Lojban would likely require several people working together, and most likely will build on the work we and others have done rather than start anew.

I believe that this is as it should be. The Library of Congress has dozens of books about one-man languages that never went anywhere. Language is by its nature a commu- nicative process between people with varying experience. One person cannot simultaneously test speakability and understandability, and viable languages must exhibit both virtues across the full range of human discourse.

A final aspect of the publicness of the language development is the emphasis on keeping a record of what we have done. An enormous archive is being built and maintained on this development effort. Whether any particular version of Loglan survives and prospers, those who come later will see what we have done and be able to learn from it. Among artificial languages, only Esperanto has any significant historical record of the language before it blossomed into public knowledge, and that record is sparse compared to the Loglan/Lojban record.

The other feature of the language development process worthy of comment is our reliance on keeping abreast of the field of linguistics, gathering as much information is possible on what has been learned about human language before claiming to have invented a language that can serve as a human language. This serves us well in 'selling Lojban' to both language learners and linguistics researchers, making the other goals of the language more achievable.


Machine Translation and Computer Applications - The major bases of computer scientists' interest in Lojban stem from the potential computer applications of the language, of which machine translation of natural language is the most well-known. A large portion of the Lojban community, perhaps as much as 50%, are people working in the broad area of computer science, if not specifically in artificial intelligence, computer language design, machine translation, or any of the several fields where Lojban applications may develop.

Work on these applications is still predominantly at the concept stage, for two major reasons. First is that the language development is not fully baselined, and computer application developers avoid as much as possible trying to hit a moving target. When that baseline occurs, and if the language has achieved credibility as a human language, the second obstacle can be challenged. That obstacle is, of course, money. Most useful computer applications will take several person-years of development, requiring work from people used to fairly high salaries. Some might work on small efforts as a hobby, but we cannot expect these efforts to bear fruit, though they might serve as a seed for some future effort.

Getting the first financial support for Loglan applications will be difficult; Dr. Brown made one brief attempt in the late 1970's that was ignored. la lojbangirz. is taking a more systematic approach, building credibility and being aware of other research where Lojban may prove a useful adjunct. We also have been building awareness of our effort in the computer science community. When Lojban development is complete, we will have the ideas, the language, the contacts, and hopefully the credibility, to convince some research grant source to commit a large sum of money to pursue these applications.

Until then, we need to exchange ideas. Patrick Juola wrote on Lojban and machine translation back in JL8, and JL9 discussed the closely related area of Lojban as a mathematics and science interlingua. Sheldon Linker has thought about the design of a heuristic learning and con- versation program (something like the HAL 9000 computer of 2001 - A Space Odyssey). Art Wieners has been pursuing similar ideas, and has done experimental work on the software needed to recognize Lojban words. Of course, the YACC grammar for Lojban enhances this line of research, and John Cowan's parser, coupled with Jeff Taylor and Jeff Prothero's earlier work, may provide the capability to go from individual speech sounds (phonemes) to fully analyzed text structure within a few months.

One area we would like to pursue is the current research being done in teaching computers 'common-sense'. Some researchers are not too far from getting computers to understand a large subset of English. The simpler, more regular grammar of Lojban should make the computer processing for language structure much lighter, allowing more effort to go into 'understanding' of language.

Bob, as editor of Ju'i Lobypli, would like to encourage more computer scientists to write brief outlines of their ideas for Lojban for the benefit of JL readers. These seeds, planted today, may become grant proposals tomorrow.


International Language - JL11 and JL13 have contained significant discussion of the oft-made comparisons between Loglan and Esperanto, and this issue hopefully brings those discussions to a conclusion. As the computer network discussions excerpted later in this issue demonstrate, the topic has not been limited to this journal. The topic has been thoroughly addressed, but let's summarize the key elements of the situation.

I will first cover the question of Lojban as an common language in certain specialized domains, such as mathematics, international law, etc. The arguments with Esperantists in these pages and elsewhere have not addressed these questions. Each language brings its own advantages to the problem. Esperanto brings its culture, demonstrated speaker base, and (surprisingly as an 'advantage') its European structure and vocabulary. When well over 90% of the published material in the world is written in a European language, and most of that in English, Loglan's non-European grammar is NOT an advantage. Loglan's advantages are that its grammar is unambiguous, that machine translation was considered in making design decisions, and that it is likely to be seen less as a "colonial" (=European) language to Third World populations.

It isn't clear what parameters could be used to decide what "international language" is "best". Esperanto has a large number of speakers, an established community, culture, and literature, and considerable recognition outside its own speaker base as "the" international language. On the other hand, many Esperantists admit that the language has flaws, and that other languages invented since have remedied some of these flaws (usually while introducing new ones that are equally severe); they contend however, that the entire set of flaws in the language are more than made up by the 100 years of language experience that has been acquired.

I, Bob, agree with this position. Esperanto is presently in good standing as the prime candidate among artificial languages. Under the best of circumstances for us, Lojban will not legitimately contest this standing for at least a generation, because it will take at least that long for Lojban to build a literature, culture, etc. It may not happen even then.

It remains to be proven whether any artificial language, or any single language at all can serve the needs of a "world language". I doubt that most people really know what such a language would entail. Those who raise the claim of English as such a language, for example, forget that English is not a single language. Only in rigid, formal, written text like scientific writing is there enough standardization that various English dialects are mutually intelligible to the degree required by an "international language". I can note that, even there, one can find lapses. Last year, I read a technical book on lexicography, the science of dictionary-making, written by a Czech linguist under the auspices of the United Nations, and translated with his help into English. Portions were only barely intelligible. Yet it was clear that the author did have considerable command of idiomatic English, and Czech is a European language, presumably closer to English than most non-European ones. And this was written by a linguist who specializes in writing dictionaries of other languages, and therefore highly aware of the difficulties in international communication.

I contend that colloquial or conversational communication will be much more difficult to unify under the auspices of an 'international language'. This is because the problem is NOT a lack of a common language, but a lack of educa- tion. Education starts with the ability to read and write your own native language fluently - who could justify asking someone to learn to read a second language when they cannot read their own - and how would you teach them. But a large portion of the world's population, probably a majority, is totally illiterate, and others are only semi- literate. How dare we as Loglanists expect to teach them predicate logic or even relativistic tenses!

It isn't necessary to learn to read and write in order to learn a language, but all international language proposals have been predominantly targeted at the educated speaker, and teaching materials and methods generally require ability to read and write as well as some understanding about the formal rules of your native language.

I do not damn the illiterate. The supposedly literate societies are just as bad as targets for an international language. How much of the recent turmoil in the Middle East has been due to the fact that Westerners, especially Americans, do not understand Arabic culture, much less the Arabic language? The journalists seemed to consider it a major discovery that "mother of all battles", conveyed to us as a grandiose pomposity by Saddam Hussein, was merely the literal English translation of a rather natural Arabic way of saying "big battle". Translate the phrase literally into Esperanto or Lojban and it would still convey misleading ideas - you cannot translate idiom literally without error. You may not be able to translate non-idiom literally, either - imagine the misunderstanding of an translation that results in using the traditional meaning of "gay".


Let us say that it is agreed that there will be an international language (not as universally agreed as many enthusiasts might want to believe), the language must be chosen. Then the method(s) of teaching the language must be developed, methods on a scale large enough to overcome differences of education, and access to materials. If only the most educated members of a society are taught to speak an international language, the only "achievement" is a class system with walls virtually impossible to surmount. (Of course, motivating a farmer who never runs into foreigners to learn an international language may be difficult. But if she/he doesn't learn the language, his/her children will be severely handicapped in joining the internationally-connected 'upper-class'.)

If a language is chosen, it should probably be an artificial one, and Esperanto is by far the leading candidate. Indeed, with the exception of Lojban (which has major goals independent of the international language question to drive it), there are no other meaningful candidates. The other artificial languages of the world simply do not offer anything to justify their selection.

Why? Because other candidates have little to offer besides some aesthetic purity of design, and a purported claim that they are 'easier to learn' than Esperanto.

But questions of which artificial language is most "easy to learn" are red herrings that settle nothing. Indeed, close examination tends to reveal that artificial languages theoretically are no easier to learn than natural languages - I've heard no claim that the few children who are Es- peranto 'native speakers' because they are raised in a household where Esperanto is spoken, learn their language any faster than an English-native speaker learns English.

For second-language learning, too much depends on student background, motivation, and method. There are as many theories of the "best" way to teach a language as there are researchers; yet they give approximately similar results when tested against real students. How could non-spe- cialists be better able to judge fine distinctions as to which language is easier to teach, or to learn?

The methodology and the goal are more important than the language. Esperanto vocabulary may be easier for an English speaker to learn, but if this merely leads to English-native Esperantists that speak an encoded English idiom, why bother? They have not learned an international language, because non-English speakers will fail to under- stand the idiom. (When Lojbanists speak encoded idiom, it stands out so starkly that "malglico" is one of the first words a practicing Lojbanist learns.)

A quote from Andrew Large's The Artificial Language Movement may help set a perspective. Large cites a President of the international Esperanto organization UEA, as giving the following as an estimate of Esperanto's ease of learning:

"... Professor Lapenna offered a reasonable estimate of two or three hours per week for a year in order to acquire "a solid groundwork of knowledge of Esperanto's grammatical structure and of five hundred or so selected roots, from which the language's agglutinative structure enables one to derive some five thousand words."


This sounds far easier than learning a natural language (about the equivalent of a 1 semester, 3 credit class, spread over a full year), but the comparison with natural language is only relevant if someone is choosing between learning a second natural language and Esperanto. The choice is seldom that simple - except for mandatory school requirements, most people learn a language because they intend to use it. People who seriously study a second natural language spend far more than a couple hours a week in study for a year (or longer) if they want to achieve competence in that language; Lapenna's estimate is only a hobbyist level-of-effort.

Serious students with serious goals in language competence study much more intensely, and achieve much better results than Lapenna claims. I learned the Lojban gismu list, 1300 words easily giving millions if not billions of agglutinative compounds, in 3 months of a bit more than an hour a day - perhaps half of Lapenna's total time estimate at twice the intensity - yet I don't claim the Lojban vocabulary is as easy to learn for English speakers as Esperanto's cognates. The advantage was due to more intense effort, interest, and a teaching method especially effective at vocabulary instruction. (At such a higher level of effort, Esperanto students might learn a few more roots due to the cognate recognition factor, but not all that many more.)

On the other hand, if the claim is that Esperanto, or any artificial language, is easier to learn than a natural language at a hobbyist level of effort, I would never contest this. But that level of effort gives insufficient rewards in terms of achievement and understanding to sustain the motivation of the average person.

I'll claim, by the way, that vocabulary learning is the major factor in achieving the kind of language skill Lapenna is talking about, at least in an artificial language. Elsewhere in the same discussion, Large notes that a few hours of study are all that it takes to understand the basics of Esperanto's grammar. We can make the same claim about Lojban. But grammar is not the critical factor. (In natural languages, it is idiom, and other exceptions to the standard grammar, that makes a language time consuming to master.)


Returning specifically to Lojban, as an international language candidate. The essential first requirement is that Lojban be demonstrated as truly viable as a language, among several different native-language populations. This will not be easy. Lojban is not yet spoken by any non-na- tive-English speaker, and the few in that category that are studying the language must obviously know English to learn Lojban, since we have no materials beyond our brochure in any foreign language. We must develop fluent Lojbanists who also are fluent in other languages in order to get these materials. (Silvia Romanelli reported working on translating the draft textbook lessons into Italian a year ago, but we do not know her current status.)

Esperanto is likely to be the first non-English language that we have substantial Lojban teaching materials in, simply because it is the most commonly spoken non-English language in the community (and the largest audience of people immediately likely to be interested in learning an- other artificial language for any purpose).

The politics of choosing an international language favor Esperanto, or even English, by far over Lojban. There is little to be done in this arena other than to survive and grow as a language. This takes speakers and money, and for the near future we will have to concentrate on English speakers, while trying to constantly reach out to natives of other languages. The English-speaking market is the hardest one though; English predominance as an international means of communication means that there is lower motivation among English speakers to learn other languages - and motivation and effort, as I said above, are everything. Even Esperanto has made few inroads in the English-speaking market (ELNA, the North American Esperanto organization, has only around 1000 members, only a few times the effective size of la lojbangirz.) la lojbangirz. can gain enormous credibility if we can motivate Americans and other English-speakers to learn a candidate international language. We have an advantage, being centered in the United States, and should use that advantage.

It won't be easy, though. Most Americans never learn to speak a foreign language at even a minimal level (Europeans, including the British are apparently much better in this regard; Canadians are almost certainly exposed to French to some considerable degree; I have no knowledge of foreign language education in other English- speaking countries). If a Southern Californian (I lived there 9 years), faced with almost a majority of native Spanish-speaking neighbors, can avoid learning Spanish fluently, much less minimally, what will make her/him learn Lojban. It won't be ease of learning. It must be motivation and education. People must come to believe that understanding the ideas of those of different cultures is important.


The international language movement must be a movement of education. Lojban's contribution to that movement will therefore not be as a competitor with Esperanto, but as a tool of education, used in cooperation with Esperantists, and all others who seek to improve the world's lot through education.


Intercultural Communications/Studies - This is often the goal of those supporting international languages: a means to understand other cultures. Ease of learning is not the most important factor here, cultural neutrality is far more important.

I've put a lot of effort during the last year to ensure that Lojban has incorporated the means to express the ideas of different cultures with equal ease. Language typology, the study of universals that all languages have in common, and the differences that make each language unique, is a study that is finally gaining significant progress. From this work, we can see what linguistic features Lojban needs to succeed as a language, and what features it must emulate in order to successfully model other languages.

In particular, I've concentrated on a book, The World's Major Languages, edited by B. Comrie. This book surveys several dozen languages in considerable detail, both European and non-European. After 6 months of steady plowing, I can report that Lojban has the capability of conveying the essence of each of the idiosyncratic structures I found, though sometimes in unusual ways. For example, the 'topic construction' of Japanese turns out to be nicely modelled by Lojban's prenex construction, designed for certain logical expressions. The Chinese sentences used as examples can often be conveyed in Lojban as very elaborate tanru. It is clear to me that, if the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is true, then Lojban's ability to model the structures of the world's languages will lead to a corresponding ability to understand the cultures that use those languages. Time will surely tell.

Lojban's value in understanding other cultures is enhanced by the requirement to thoroughly think about what you wish to say in culture-free terms in order to express it in Lojban, with its drastically different structures. The translations of a Suzanne Vega song lyric into several artificial languages in le lojbo se ciska, and my commentary, may be more revealing than a lot of words here. It took me a couple of hours to do the Lojban translation, not because anything therein was hard to say in Lojban, but it took time to figure out just what the author was trying to say (and I'm a native English speaker).

Expressing cultural ideas in Lojban for the benefit of those in other cultures, will be slow and at times cumbersome, especially for those not fluent in the language. But the problem is not trivial, and a little deliberation may be a good sign rather than a bad one.


Language Education - Half of language education for natural languages (or even more) is understanding the culture of the target language, since so much of the natural idiom of a language is tied to various cultural metaphors. Thus everything mentioned in the last section provides a benefit for Lojban as a medium for learning other languages.

I noted above that linguists have determined no optimal method for teaching languages. A survey I've done of both traditional and innovative teaching methods indicates that each method has advantages and disadvantages; they will work for some students and not for others.

We have found the same thing with LogFlash, our superb vocabulary teaching method. Both Nora and I have learned the Lojban vocabulary with what we saw as incredible ease, and more important, with incredible staying power - we don't forget what we have learned. But the method requires the student to use the program for about 2-3 months at an hour a day, with major interruptions causing a significant delay in mastery of the language. We're working on improvements with the next version of the program that will minimize the effect of interruption or lesser time spent, but the bottom line is that the method requires a commitment to regular use - it takes a certain number of hours to learn a certain amount of vocabulary. Someone who doesn't spend that time, regularly for 3 months, will have less success. People who need a variety of activities to maintain their interest may find LogFlash's monotonous, if effective, drills beyond their tolerance (unless they spend additional time above and beyond LogFlash study in other Lojbanic activities).

Lojban, however, offers an excellent laboratory for experimenting with new methods in language education, and the techniques we have developed as amateurs have already proven effective for people trying to learn other languages. Darren Stalder, now studying Japanese, reports that studying Lojban gave him an awareness of the lin- guistic features of how words sound (phonology) that has greatly enhanced his learning of Japanese. He understands the rules for pronouncing the language, but also better understands why the rules hold, allowing him to better remember the rules when they apply as well as to extrapo- late when the rules do not explicitly cover the situation. Sylvia Rutiser has also been working with Japanese, trying to use the LogFlash flash card techniques to learn the Japanese writing system.

I personally think that language education may be one of the areas where Lojban first scores a breakthrough that attracts attention from those not directly interested in the language itself. When the textbook is complete, I will be seeking funding to pursue the study of Lojban as a tech- nique of language education. In the meantime, I'll be listening carefully at the relevant discussions at the Georgetown Round Table meetings on this subject in April.


Linguistics Research - Much of the rest of this issue addresses the subject of Lojban and the linguistics community, so I won't spend much space here. As that discussion will show, the concept of using Lojban to study creolization processes (how languages evolve in contact with other languages) is a new idea that should have significant credibility. Unlike a comparable study based on a natural language, studying the creolization of Lojban gains the benefit of a clear statement as to what the language is before the start of such an evolutionary process, thus allowing changes to be more easily observed and measured.

Most attention regarding Loglan linguistics research has been with regard to testing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, the original goal and primary ideal of some supporters of the language. JL6 and JL7 discussed this topic considerably, and there has been more discussion since then, including some in the computer network material in this issue. However, a Sapir-Whorf test may take decades to plan and conduct, and may be unconvincing to some even if successful.

Thus far more important to Lojban's future in linguistics research, and its credibility among linguists, is that Loglan/Lojban be proven useful for studying other aspects of language. We are lucky in this. Dr. Brown, in inventing the language, envisioned and designed it to serve as a 'test bed' for language experimentation, having a minimum of features that might detract from the ability for later linguists to use Loglan as a tool to learn. We believe that the Lojban designers have stuck to this principle, and even enhanced it, in the last few years. What remains is to convince the linguists that we are correct.

Let us turn now to the first step in making the linguistic case for Lojban, the response to Arnold Zwicky's 1969 critique of Loglan. We will then follow with other aspects of Lojban's application, especially as discussed on the computer networks.

Response to Arnold Zwicky's 1969 Review of Loglan 1 Loglan and Lojban: A Linguist's Questions And An Amateur's Answers

by John Cowan (ci'a la djan. kau,n.)
Internet address: [email protected]

The following questions about Loglan are based on a 1969 review by Arnold M. Zwicky of James Cooke Brown's 1966 edition of Loglan 1. Although basically friendly, Zwicky's review raises a large number of linguistic objections to Loglan as it existed in 1966. The review represents the only formal notice the linguistics community has ever taken of the Loglan Project. Unfortunately, the Project has never made any reply.

The answers that appear here reflect the perspective of Lojban (not Institute Loglan) as it exists in 1991. Therefore, no attempts have been made to sort out Zwicky's misunderstandings of Brown's text, Brown's misunderstandings (or mistakes in writing) about his own language, valid points as of 1969 that were later changed by Brown, and valid points as of 1969 that were changed when (or since) Lojban split from Institute Loglan.

Throughout, "Loglan" refers to 1966 Loglan as seen by Zwicky, and "Lojban" to 1991 Lojban as seen by me. The word "Lojban" is derived from the same metaphor as "Loglan" ("logical language") but using Lojban words ("logji bangu").

As the title indicates, I am only an amateur (lit. "lover") of linguistics, and I may misinterpret some of Zwicky's points. The question-and-answer format used here is purely for expository convenience. Zwicky is not responsible for the form of the questions, which reflect only my interpretations of his points, except for quoted text within the questions followed by (Z), which are quotations from Zwicky's original review. That review was published in Language 45:2 (1969), pp. 444-457.

1. Lojban sentences do not have unique interpretations; how can Lojban be said to be unambiguous?

The sense in which Lojban is said to be unambiguous is not a simple one, and some amplification of the fundamental claim is necessary. Ambiguity is judged on four levels: the phonological-graphical, the morphological, the syntactic, and the semantic.

Lojban is audio-visually isomorphic: the writing system has a grapheme for every phoneme and vice versa, and there are no supra-segmental phonemes (such as tones or pitch) which are not represented in the writing system. Lojban's phonology contains significant pauses that affect word boundaries, and allows pauses between any two words. The optional written representation for pause is a period, although pauses can be unambiguously identified in written text from the morphological rules alone. Lojban also uses stress significantly, and again there is a written representation (capitalization of the affected vowel or syllable), which is omitted in most text, where the morphological default of penultimate stress applies.

Lojban is morphologically unambiguous in two senses: a string of phonemes (including explicit pause and stress information) can be broken up into words in only one way, and each compound word can be converted to and from an equivalent phrase in only one way.

The syntactic unambiguity of Lojban has been established by the use of a LALR(1) parser generator which, in cooperation with a series of simple pre-parser operations, produces a unique parse for every Lojban text. In addition, the existence of a defined 'phrase structure rule' grammar underlying the language (and tested via the parser generator) guarantees that there are no sentences where distinct deep structures generate isomorphic surface structures. On the other hand, Lojban does have transformations, although they are not explicit in the machine grammar: there are distinct surface structures which have the same semantics, and therefore reflect the same underlying deep structure.

The claim for semantic unambiguity is a limited one only. Lojban contains several constructs which are explicitly ambiguous semantically. The most important of these are Lojban tanru (so-called 'metaphors') and Lojban names. Names are ambiguous in almost any language, and Lojban is no better; a name simply must be resolved in context, and the only final authority for the meaning of a name is the user of the name. tanru are further discussed in later replies.

2. If the meaning of a particular tanru cannot be completely understood from understanding the component parts, a separate dictionary entry is needed for every possible tanru, making the Lojban dictionary infinitely long. How can this be avoided?

tanru are binary combinations of predicates, such that the second predicate is the 'head' and the first predicate is a modifier for that head. The meaning of the tanru is the meaning of its head, with the additional information that there is some unspecified relationship between the head and the modifier. tanru are the basis of compound words in Lojban. However, a compound word has a single defined meaning whereas the meaning of a tanru is explicitly ambiguous. Lojban tanru are not as free as English figures of speech; they are 'analytic', meaning that the components of the tanru do not themselves assume a figurative sense. Only the connection between them is unstated.

Most of the constructs of Lojban are semantically unambiguous, and there are semantically unambiguous ways (such as with relative clauses) to paraphrase the meaning of any tanru. For example, "slasi mlatu" ("plastic-cat") might be paraphrased in ways that translate to "cat that is made from plastic" or "cat which eats plastic" or various other interpretations, just as in English. However, the single (compound) word derived from this tanru, "slasymlatu", has exactly one meaning from among the interpretations, which could be looked up in a dictionary (if someone had found the word useful enough to formally submit it). There is no law compelling the creation of such a word, however, and there is even an 'escape mechanism' allowing a speaker to indicate that a particular instance of a 'nonce' compound word is 'nonstandard' (has not been checked against a dictionary or other standard), and may have a meaning based on an unusual interpretation of the underlying tanru.

3. The Loglan 'primitive words' seem to have been chosen at random, without regard to any sort of semantic theory. Why was this done?

Lojban content words are built up from a list of about 1300 root words (called "gismu"), which are not necessarily to be taken as semantically simple. Lojban does not claim to exhibit a complete and comprehensive semantic theory which hierarchically partitions the entire semantic space of human discourse.

Rather, the 1300-odd root words blanket semantic space, in the sense that everything human beings talk about can be built up using appropriate tanru. This claim is being tested in actual usage, and root words can still be added if necessary (after careful consideration) if genuine gaps are found. For the most part, the few gaps which are now recognized (about 20 words will be added soon) reflect the completing of semantic sets. It is no longer permitted for language users to create new gismu root words (in the standard form of the language, at least); newly coined words must fall recognizably outside the highly regulated gismu morphological space (a specific and separate morphological structure is reserved for coined words - usually borrowings - and a marker is available to indicate that a word is a 'nonce' coinage rather than an established 'dictionary word').

Lojban's empirically derived word list is similar to that of Basic English, which replaces the whole English vocabulary with English-normal compounds built from about 800 root words. Lojban and Basic English both allow for the adoption of technical terms from other languages to cover things like plant and animal names, food names, and names of chemical compounds.

The unfortunate terms "primitive word" and "prim" formerly used by the Loglan Project suggested the notion that Lojban's set of gismu was meant to be a list of semantic primitives. This is not the case for Lojban, and the more neutral term "root word" was adopted recently to reduce confusion. Lojban predicate words, therefore, are now divided into gismu 'root words', lujvo 'compound words' and le'avla 'borrowings' (lit. 'taken words'). (Brown did originally select some words as 'semantic primitives'; however, he later added words with no claim that the addi- tions were 'primitive' in the same sense).

4. Some tanru seem poorly designed and not in keeping with expressed standards. Also, tanru like "nixli ckule", analogous to English "girls' school", are so open-ended in sense that there is no way to block such far-fetched interpretations as "a school intended to train girls between the ages of 6 and 10 to play the bassoon", which is patently absurd. What is the proper interpretation of tanru?

In the early part of the Loglan Project, poor tanru were regrettably common. In particular, it was common for tanru to be calques on English expressions, such as "beautiful type of small" for English "pretty small". Many tanru employed the primitive for "make"' (in the sense "make from materials") where "cause" would have been more appropriate (e.g. "kill" = "dead-make"). Many years worth of effort since then have gone into removing such malglico ('derogatively English') tanru from Lojban texts.

The Lojban tanru "nixli ckule" ("girl type of school") cannot mean, out of context, "school intended to train girls between 6 and 10 years of age to play the bassoon", although if such a school existed it could certainly be called a nixli ckule. This interpretation can be rejected as implausible because it involves additional restrictive information. The undefined relationship between "nixli" and "ckule" cannot drag in additional information 'by the hair', as it were. Instead, this intricate interpretation would require a larger tanru incorporating nixli ckule as one of its components, or else a non-tanru construct, probably involving a Lojban relative clause. As a comparison, such interpretations as "school containing girls", "school whose students are girls", and "school to train persons to behave like girls" are plausible with minimal context because these renderings do not involve ad- ditional restriction.

5. Lojban claims to be unambiguous, but many constructs have vague meanings, and the meanings of the primitives themselves are extremely poorly specified. On the other hand, Lojban forces precision on speakers where it is not wanted and where natural-language speakers can easily avoid it. Is this appropriate to a culturally neutral, unambiguous language?

Lojban's avoidance of ambiguity does not mean an avoidance of vagueness. A Lojban aphorism states that the price of infinite precision is infinite verbosity, as indeed Wilkins' Philosophical Language illustrates. Lojban's allowable vagueness permits useful sentences to be not much longer than their natural-language counterparts.

There are many ways to omit information in Lojban, and it is up to the listener to reconstruct what was meant, just as in natural languages. In each construct, there are specific required and optional components. Unlike English, omitting an optional component explicitly and unambiguously flags an ellipsis. Furthermore, the listener has a clear way of querying any of this elliptically omitted information.

There are also some categories which are necessary in Lojban and not in other languages. For example, Lojban requires the speaker, whenever referring to objects, to specify whether the objects are considered as individuals, as a mass, or as a (set theoretic) set. Likewise, logical relations are made explicit: there can be no neutrality in Lojban about inclusive vs. exclusive 'or', which are no more closely related semantically than any other pair of logical connectives.

These properties are a product of Lojban's fundamental design, which was chosen to emphasize a highly distinctive and non-natural syntax (that of formal first-order predicate logic) embedded in a language with the same expressive power as natural languages. Through the appearance of this one highly unusual feature, the intent of the Loglan Project has been to maximize one difference between Lojban and natural languages without compromising speakability and learnability. This difference could then be tested by considering whether the use of first-order predicate logic as a syntactic base aided fluent Lojban speakers in the use of this logic as a reasoning tool.

As to the 'primitives', Lojban gismu roots are defined rather abstractly, in order to cover as large a segment of closely related semantic space as possible. These broad (but not really vague) concepts can then be restricted using tanru and other constructs to any arbitrary degree necessary for clarity. Communicating the meaning of a gismu (or any other Lojban word) is a problem of teaching and lexicography. The concepts are defined as predicate relationships among various arguments, and various experimental approaches have been explored throughout the Loglan Project to determine the best means to convey these meanings. It is believed that the current working definitions of the gismu are much more clear than the 1966 set.

6. On a more technical note, Lojban tanru involving more than two components are always left-grouping (in the absence of a marker word). Right-branching structure is "much more natural to human languages" (Z). Why was this choice made?

Lojban is predominantly a left-branching language. By default, all structures are left-branching, with right- branching available when marked by a particle. Since the head of most constructs appears on the left, left-branching structures tend to favor the speaker. Nothing spoken needs to be revised to add more information. When the head is on the right, as in the case of tanru, left-branching may seem counter-intuitive, as it requires the listener to retain the entire structure in mind until the head is found. However, left-branching was retained even in tanru for the sake of simplicity.

Experience has shown, however, that Lojban's left- branching structure is not a major problem for language learners. Indeed, many longer English metaphors translate directly into Lojban using simple left-branching structures.

7. Loglan anaphora use a convention which is "quite precise, and also quite unlike anything in natural languages" (Z), involving counting backward from the reference to the referent. This provides unique reference, but is also difficult to understand and use. Is there nothing better that preserves the desirable property of unique reference which a logical language needs?

The Lojban anaphora conventions have undergone much revision and expansion since the early days of Loglan. There now exist both the "traditional" Loglan back-counting anaphora, which refer to previous referents, and more "natural-language-like" anaphoric words which are meaningless until assigned. Assignment may be either in after-thought or forethought. These words are somewhat like natural language pronouns, but may more closely be compared to the use of regions of space in American Sign Language to refer to remote persons and things. Unassigned space regions in ASL are similarly meaningless.

It is no longer a required convention that anaphora variables be assigned in a fixed order. Subscripts (as in mathematics) are allowed almost everywhere in the language, and provide for a countable infinity of variables as of many other things. Lojban also has added the capability of using individual letters and acronyms as anaphoric symbols.

8. Why does Loglan have a different and even more complex system of "personal pronouns" for speaker/listener reference? Is this level of complexity really in order for what other languages treat as a simple matter?

Lojban personal pronouns have been simplified. There are now forms for I, II, III, I and II, I and III, II and III, and I and II and III. There are no separate forms (and never have been) for plurals, because number is not a mandatory grammatical category in any part of Lojban. Number is expressed, when needed, using explicit numerals (which include both precise and vague forms analogous to English 'some', 'few', 'too many', etc.) Honorifics were recently added to the language, using a general mechanism which may apply to any word or construct, not merely to pronouns.

9. Why does Loglan treat predicate connection as primary and sentence, argument, etc. connection as secondary?

Whatever may have been assumed in the past for pedagogical purposes, logical connection between sentences is basic to Lojban. All other forms of logical connection may be transformed into equivalent sentence connections.

10. Why are there so many structure words, and why are many of them so similar? Wouldn't this make Loglan hard to understand at a cocktail party (or a similar noisy environment)?

One of the recurrent difficulties with all forms of Loglan, including Lojban, is the tendency to fill up the available space of structure words, making words of similar function hard to distinguish in noisy environments. The phonological revisions made when Lojban split from Insti- tute Loglan allowed for many more structure words (cmavo), but once again the list has almost entirely filled.

In some cases, notably the digits 0-9, an effort has been made to separate them phonologically. The vocatives (including the words used for communication protocol, e.g. over the radio) are also maximally separated phonologically. Many other function words are based on shortened forms of corresponding gismu roots, however, and are not maximally separated.

A variety of ways to say "Huh?" have been added to the language, partially alleviating the difficulty. These question words can be used to specify the type of word that was expected, or the part of the relationship that was not understood by the listener.

11. Loglan's "restrictions on stresses and pauses results in long sequences of unstressed syllables which must be pronounced without a break" (Z). This makes correct speech a "trial for a speaker of English or Russian, and not easy even for a speaker of French" (Z). Natural languages often have non-significant pauses, but in Loglan every non- required pause is forbidden. Is Loglan really speakable?

Lojban allows certain flexibilities of pause and stress in the area of structure words. By default, all structure words are unstressed. However, it is possible to set off structure words with optional pauses, and even to give them optional stress, subject to a single limitation: a structure word followed by a predicate word without pause must not be stressed.

Pauses are now permitted between any two words; only within a word is pause forbidden, and most words are short. gismu and cmavo are always one or two syllables long, and many lujvo compounds are only two or three syllables.

12. "A partial explanation for the existence of transformations is to be found in the necessity for providing speakers of any language with relatively acceptable variants of certain types of deep structures." (Z) Loglan has no transformations, making some sentences expressible, but far from straightforward or easy to use. Doesn't this make Loglan harder to use than typical natural languages?

Lojban does have transformations, in the sense that there are several alternative surface structures that have the same semantics and therefore, presumably, the same deep structure. What it does not have is identical surface structures with differing deep structures, so a surface- structure-only grammar is sufficient to develop an adequate parsing for every text. Knowledge of transformations is required only to get the semantics right.

13. Lojban connectives cannot be used to correctly translate English "If you water it, it will grow", because material implication is too weak and the special causal connectives, which connect assertions, are too strong. What can be done instead?

The English sentence "If you water it, it will grow" looks superficially like a Lojban "na.a" connection (material implication), but it actually has causal connotations not present in "na.a". Therefore, a proper translation must involve the notion of cause. Neither the Lojban coordinating causal conjunction nor the two cor- relative subordinating causal conjunctions (one of which subordinates the cause and the other the effect) will serve, since these require that either the cause, or the effect, or both be asserted. Instead, the correct translation of the English involves "cause" as a predicate, and might be paraphrased "The event of your watering it is a cause of the event of its future growing."

14. How can Loglan logical connectives be used in imperative sentences? Logical connectives work properly only on complete sentences, and of those, only those which actually assert something.

In early versions of Loglan, imperatives were marked by a predication without a subject. In Lojban, there is a special imperative pronoun "ko". This is a second person pronoun logically equivalent to "do", the normal Lojban word for 'you', but conveying an imperative sense. Thus, an imperative can be understood as commanding the listener to make the assertion true which results when "ko" is replaced by "do".

For example, "ko sisti" ('Stop!') is logically equivalent to "do sisti" ('you stop'), and pragmatically may be understood as 'Make "do sisti" true!". This allows logical connection to be used in imperatives without loss of clarity or generality; the logical connection applies to the assertion which is in effect embedded in the im- perative.

A minor advantage of this style of imperative is that tensed imperatives like "ko ba klama", ('Come in-the- future!') become straightforward.

15. Loglan's existential (bound) variables appear to be non-standard. Brown states that the value of an existential variable is always unknown to the speaker, rather than merely being unspecified (perhaps for reasons of privacy or germaneness). Why is this? Also, why isn't quantification over predicates provided? Why are the back- counting anaphora unable to refer to existential variables?

Existential variables are now interpreted in a standard way, to refer to something unspecified, or something specified by a restrictive relative clause ("all x such that..."). There are separate sets of variables for quantifying over arguments and over predicates. In general, the back-counting anaphora (which are less important in Lojban than in Loglan) are not used to refer to other anaphoric words; this makes the counting convention a bit more complex, but leads to more generally useful results.

16. Untensed sentences ought to be neutral with respect to tense, mood, and aspect, but Brown treats untensed sentences as expressing disposition, habit, or ability - lasting throughout all time. This is inconsistent with other parts of the language which treat ellipsized material as merely unspecified.

The Lojban tense system has been greatly elaborated and clarified with respect to its Loglan predecessor. There are now specific mechanisms for stating the potentiality or actuality of a predication; in the absence of these, a predication is neutral concerning the degree of actuality expressed by it. It is no longer true that "untensed" predicates are used to express disposition or habit. They may be so used, by ellipsis, but are in fact neutral in the absence of further evidence.

Lojban tense, like other incidental modifiers of a predication, tend to be contextually "sticky". When once specified in connected discourse, to whatever degree of precision seems appropriate, tense need not be respecified in each sentence. In narration, this assumption is modi- fied to the extent that each sentence is assumed to refer to a slightly later time than the previous sentence, although with explicit tense markers it is possible to tell a story in reversed or scrambled time order. Therefore, each predication does have a tense, one that is implicit if not necessarily explicit.

17. The decisions about the degrees of predicates (the number of arguments expected for each) seem arbitrary. Color words are treated as relations of degree 2; weather predicates which have no real subject nevertheless need at least one argument; event predicates like "kiss" don't have an argument specifying the time. What theory underlies the choice of place structures?

Very little. Place structures are empirically derived, like the root word list itself, and present a far more difficult problem; therefore, they will be standardized (if ever) only after everything else is complete. Many of the particular objections made above have force, and have already been accepted. There is no sufficiently complete and general case theory that allows the construction of a priori place structures for the large variety of predicates that exist in the real world.

The current place structures of Lojban represent a three- way compromise: fewer places are easier to learn; more places make for more concision (arguments not represented in the place structure may be added, but must be marked with appropriate case tags); the presence of an argument in the place structure makes a metaphysical claim that it is required for the predication to be meaningful. This last point requires some explanation. For example, the predicate "klama" ("come, go") has five places: the actor, the destination, the origin, the route, and the means. Lojban therefore claims that anything not involving these five notions (whether specified in a particular sentence or not) is not an instance of "klama". The predicate "cliva" ("leave") has the same places except for the destination; it is not necessary to be going anywhere in particular for "cliva" to hold. "litru" ("travel") has neither origin nor destination, merely, the actor, the route, and the means. The predicate "cadzu" ("walk"), involves only a walker and a means of walking (typically legs). One may walk without an origin or a destination (in circles, e.g.). For describing the act of walking from somewhere to somewhere, the tanru "cadzu klama" or the corresponding lujvo "dzukla" would be appropriate. The tanru "cadzu cliva" and "cadzu litru" may be similarly analyzed.

18. The Loglan phonological system is hard for English- speakers (to say nothing of Japanese-speakers) to use, due to the large numbers of consonant clusters and non-English diphthongs. How can a language be appropriate as an international auxiliary language when it is difficult to pronounce?

Lojban phonology is much better than 1966 Loglan's was. There are now only 4 falling and 10 rising diphthongs, and the rising diphthongs are used only in names and in paralinguistic grunts representing emotions. All 25 vowel combinations are used, but they are separated by a voiceless vocalic glide written with an apostrophe, thus preventing diphthongization. English-speakers think of this glide as /h/, and even speakers of languages like French, which has no /h/, can manage this sound intervocalically.

Consonant clusters are controlled more carefully as well. Only 48 selected clusters are permitted initially; some of these, such as "ml" and "mr", do not appear in English, but are still possible to English-speakers with a bit of prac- tice. Medial consonant clusters are also restricted, to prevent mixed voiced-unvoiced clusters, consecutive stops, and other hard-to-handle combinations. The new Lojban sound /y/, IPA [@], is used to separate "bad" medial clusters wherever the morphology rules would otherwise produce them.

Difficulties with the variety of permitted initial sounds are overestimated. Lojban's morphology makes pronouncing these words easier than they first appear. Initial consonant clusters occur only in content words (predicates) and names. These words seldom are spoken in isolation; rather, they are expressed in a speech stream with a rhythmic stress pattern preceded (and followed) by words that end with a vowel. The unambiguous morphology allows the words to be broken apart even if run together at a very high speech rate. Meanwhile, though, the final vowel of the preceding word serves to buffer the cluster, allowing it to be pronounced as a much easier medial cluster. Thus "le mlatu" ("the cat"), while officially pronounced /le,MLA,tu/, can be pronounced as /lem,LA,tu/ with no confusion to the listener.

In addition, the buffering sound, IPA [I] (the "i" of "English "bit") is explicitly reserved for insertion at any point into a Lojban word where the speaker requires it for ease of pronunciation. The word "mlatu" may be pronounced /mIlatu/ by those who cannot manage "ml", and nothing else need be changed. This sound is "stripped" by the listener before any further linguistic processing is done.

19. Loglan words resemble their English cognates, but unsystematically so. Does this really aid learning, or does it make learning more difficult?

Lojban words are less English-like than prior versions of Loglan, since they were redone using new (1985) data on numbers of speakers. English is now less important in relative terms than Mandarin Chinese, and most Lojban words are fairly equal mixtures of the two languages, with lesser influences from Spanish, Hindi, Russian, and Arabic. The other languages used in 1966 Loglan are no longer as prominent in terms of world-wide number of speakers, and were dropped from the word-making algorithm.

There is no proven claim that the Lojban word-making algorithm has any meaningful correlation with learnability of the words. Brown has reported that informal 'engineering tests' were conducted early in the Loglan Project, leading to his selection of the current algorithm, but these tests have never been documented or subjected to review. The Logical Language Group has proposed formal tests of the algorithm, and is instrumenting its software used for teaching vocabulary to allow data to be gathered that will confirm or refute Brown's hypothesis. Gathering this data may incidentally provide additional insights into the vocabulary learning process, enabling Lojban to serve the additional purpose of being a test bed for research in 2nd language acquisition.

In any event, the word-making algorithm used for Lojban has the clear benefit of ensuring that phonemes occur in the language in rough proportion to their occurrence in the source natural languages, and in patterns and orders that are similar to those in the source languages (thus the first syllable of Lojban gismu most frequently ends in /n/, reflecting the high frequency of syllable ending /n/ in Chinese). The result is a language that is much more pleasant-sounding than, for example, randomly chosen phoneme strings, while having at least some arguable claim to being free of the European cultural bias found in the roots of most other constructed languages.

20. Loglan has an absolutely fixed word order; in some cases, changes of word order are possible, but only by the addition of marker particles. Why is this? No natural language has an absolutely fixed word order (or for that matter, an absolutely free one).

Lojban's word order is by no means fixed. In fact, Lojban is only secondarily a "word order" language at all. Primarily, it is a particle language. Using a standard word order allows many of the particles to be 'elided' (dropped) in common cases. However, even the standard un- marked word order is by no means fixed; the principal requirement is that at least one argument precede the predicate, but it is perfectly all right for all of the arguments to do so, leading to an SOV word order rather than the canonical SVO (subject-verb-object). VSO order is expressible using only 1 particle. In two-argument predicates, OSV, OVS, and VOS are also possible with only one particle, and various even more scrambled orders (when more than two-place predicates are involved) can also be achieved.

21. Loglan does not have WH-questions of the English kind (its questions are fill-in-the-blank) and does not have relative clauses. Therefore, no "unbounded" transformations (in the technical sense) exist in the language. Sentences like "I met a man that John said Mary told George to visit" can be translated only with great pain. How can such fairly common types of constructions be represented better?

Lojban does have relative clauses, of the Hebrew type; the relative marker and the relative pronoun are distinct. The marker "poi" (or "noi" for non-restrictive clauses) always comes at the beginning, but the embedded clause is in normal order, using the relative pronoun "ke'a" at the appropriate location to represent whatever is being elaborated by the clause.

22. If Loglan is to be used as an international auxiliary language, it must be culturally neutral. But many of its conceptual distinctions, for example the color set, are clearly biased towards particular languages. There is a word for 'brown', which is a color not used in Chinese (although a word exists, it is rare); on the other hand, there is only one word for 'blue', although Russian- speakers convey the range of English 'blue' with two words. How can Loglan be prevented from splintering into dialects which differ in such points?

To some extent, such splitting is inevitable and already exists in natural languages. Some English-speakers may use the color term 'aqua' in their idiolect, whereas others lump that color with 'blue', and still others with 'green'. Understanding is still possible, perhaps with some effort. The Lojban community will have to work out such problems for itself; there are sufficient clarifying mechanisms to resolve differences in idiolect or style between individuals. The unambiguous syntax and other constraints defined in the language prescription should make such dif- ferences much more easily resolvable than, say, the differences between two dialects of English.

The prescriptive phase of Lojban is not intended to solve all problems (especially all semantic problems) but merely to provide enough structure to get a linguistic community started. After that, the language will be allowed to evolve naturally, and will probably creolize a bit in some cultures. (A recent discussion has pointed out that observing the creolization of such a highly prescribed constructed language will undoubtedly reveal much about the nature of the processes involved.

23. Loglan is supposed to be intended as a test of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its negative form: "structural features of language make a difference in our awareness of the relations between ideas" (Brown). Is this simply another way of saying "Distinctions are more likely to be noticed if structurally marked" (Z)? If so, this is trivially true.

A better paraphrase might be "Unmarked features are more likely to be used, and therefore will tend to constitute the backgrounded features of the language". By making the unmarked features those which are most unlike natural-lan- guage features, a new set of thought habits will be created (if Sapir-Whorf is true) which will be measurably different from those possessed by non-Lojban speakers. If Sapir- Whorf is false, which is the null hypothesis for Lojban purposes, no such distinctions in thought habits will be detectable.

Further elaboration of Loglan Project thinking about Sapir-Whorf has led to another alternate formulation: "The constraints imposed by structural features of language impose corresponding constraints on thought patterns." In attempting to achieve cultural neutrality, Lojban has been designed to minimize many structural constraints found in natural languages (such as word order, and the structural distinctions between noun, verb, and adjective). If Sapir- Whorf is true, there should be measurable broadening in thought patterns (possibly showing up as increased cre- ativity or ability to see relationships between superficially unlike concepts). Again, the null hypothesis is that no measurable distinction will exist.

24. How can "ease of thought" be measured? Measuring facility with predicate logic is not enough to establish "ease of thought"

Perhaps not. However, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis tends to be confirmed if experiments show that Lojban-speakers have a greater facility with predicate logic than non- Lojban-speakers. That would indicate that language (natural language) limits thought in ways that Lojban- speakers can bypass. This form of test is not free of its own difficulties, which have been discussed elsewhere.

Summary

Professor Zwicky's analysis raises several points of concern to linguists who might be interested in the potential use of Lojban for linguistic research. It is believed that sufficient planning and linguistic understanding (and occasionally serendipity) has been incorporated in the Lojban language design process to meet these concerns. Other concerns no doubt exist; it is believed they can similarly be addressed, and that Lojban will prove linguistically viable, as well as useful in our attempts to understand language.

Meanwhile, as Lojban has evolved since the 1966 version of Loglan, new features, not analyzed by Zwicky, have been added to the language, further enhancing its potential value. These features, such as Lojban's expression of the several varieties of natural language negation, the system of attitudinal words for emotional expression, and the discursives used for metalinguistic manipulation and comment on the discourse in progress, raise new questions about the adequacy of Lojban's design, while providing new opportunities for exploration of the properties of natural language, as well as the correctness of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

In 1991, it is time for linguists to again look at Lojban, with the expectation that new questions, and new respect, will be forthcoming.


A First Cut at a Linguistic Description of Lojban

Following are some notes on Loglan/Lojban of possible interest to linguists. It is intended that this discussion is more germane to this audience than our general brochure. We welcome questions, comments (and yes, criticisms) from the linguistic community on all aspects of the project.

Lojban is a public domain version of Loglan, a constructed language first invented by Dr. James Cooke Brown in 1955. Dr. Brown is still working on his version of the language, which has significant flaws and remains proprietary. There is a dispute between Dr. Brown's group and ours, which has been compared to the Volapk collapse and the Esperanto/Ido split. However, the 'splinter' in this case has survived and the Lojban community is growing at the limit of our resources to support it. We recommend that anyone familiar with Loglan but not with Lojban contact us for more detailed information on the situation and comparison between the two versions.

Among the design criteria for Lojban has been particular attention to criticisms of the language presented by linguists over the past three decades. We believe that we have set the Loglan/ Lojban project on an academically sound footing, and are seeking continued input and review comments from linguists as we document the effort. While we are unfunded and have not yet been published in peer- reviewed journals, we expect both conditions to change. We do have linguists actively involved in the design effort itself, most notably Dr. John Parks-Clifford, a professor at University of Missouri at St. Louis researching in tense logic, among other areas, who is Vice President of our group.

The language has been demonstrated in conversation, although there are no fluent speakers as of yet. My wife and I and others practice the language in spontaneous conversation perhaps 2 hours a week. Some poetry and other original writings in the language have been produced, though most work has been with translations (from English), most notably Saki's short story 'The Open Window', which proved especially amenable to translation and exercised areas of the language not often found in conversation.

The Loglan Project was originally started to develop a language for testing the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. In addition to supporting this goal, Lojban is designed to support other possible experiments in linguistics, including most significantly the expression of emotions, linguistic typology, and language education techniques.

With regard to Sapir-Whorf, the formulation we use is that "the structure of a language constrains the thought of the culture using that language". This formulation relates to grammar as well as semantics, with more design effort being placed on grammatical aspects, presuming that semantics will develop with the formation of a Lojban- speaking subculture, and will, if not overtly biased, serve as one means of examining for Sapir-Whorf effects.

The main basis for Lojban's use in Sapir-Whorf research is its grammar, which is based on logical predication. There are also explicit models for easily expressing first- order logical connectives. The strong bias towards logical structuring would be presumed to have a measurably sig- nificant effect on expression, and if our formulation of Sapir-Whorf is valid, on the culture that speaks the language.

The language may show noticeable changes in first- generation Lojban speakers who are native in other languages (indeed, apparent effects have been observed already, though it is uncertain whether these are true Sapir-Whorf effects). A true Sapir-Whorf test will probably involve at-least-2nd generation speakers raised bilingually in Lojban and a natural language, and speakers from a variety of cultures. The need to build numbers of Lojban-speakers in many cultures has led to Loglan/Lojban's association with the international language movement, although that is not the primary purpose for the language.

Other applications, based on Lojban's unambiguous, computer-parsable syntax, heavily analytical semantics, and intended cultural neutrality, include multi-lingual machine translation using Lojban as an interlingua, use of Lojban as a medium for knowledge representation in computers, and use as a media for human-computer interface. Work in all of these areas is still at an early stage, and naturally will tend to involve different sorts of people than are interested in natural language research questions, although there may be some overlap in trying to use Lojban as a simple model for natural language processing.

Lojban's design does recognize that most natural language usage resembling logical connectives is NOT truly logical. There are grammatical models for non-logical connection built into the language, although these tend to be more highly marked than logical expressions.

Lojban has systematic structures for logical negation, scalar negation, and metalinguistic negation, each separately expressed. Particular effort has gone into abstraction based on Aristotelian models, a tense/location/aspect system which can analytically express an enormous range of aspects, yet is quite unlike Indo- European forms, systems for metalinguistic expression at a different 'level' than normal expression, and a system of analytically based attitudinal indicators (interjections) that include Amerind-like observer-based expressions, modal attitudes, and an enormous range of emotional expression, all grammatically independent from the rest of the language. Lojban also has a system for unambiguous reading of mathematical expressions, which is relatively untested since such expressions are seldom found in normal conversation.

Lojban attempts to achieve cultural neutrality, a necessity for its research goals. This is primarily achieved by minimizing metaphysical assumptions, and wherever assumptions must be made, to be super-inclusive of the range of natural language expressions to minimize at least overt biases. There is also particular militancy in watching for hidden Americanism and English-language biases, since most of the developers and early speakers are native speakers of American English. This is believed to have been generally successful, but is an area that we particularly welcome close cross-examination. Of course, the logical orientation of the grammar is a planned bias, sufficiently extreme that it should overwhelm minor cultural constraints that are missed.

Typologically, Lojban is SVO or SOV in its unmarked forms, although all other word orders are expressible with minimal marking. This typing makes a presumption of how to interpret 'subject' in Lojban; the Lojban 'subject' is perhaps better considered as a 'topic'. Lojban has no inherent gender or number, and hence no morphological de- clension or agreement. As a predicate language, Lojban has no distinction between nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, although constructs comparable to each can be identified. Tense/modality/aspect is optional, and can range from simple to enormously complex. There are op- tional 'case markings' for the arguments of a predication, but the set of tags is not inherently limited or based on a particular theory of semantic cases. These markings occur in pre-position, but are not really "prepositions", since they can occur in other contexts. Modification in Lojban is left-to-right, with marked reversal and grouping of modifications possible. Lojban has two modes of possessive/associative expression, both preceding and following a target argument. Postposition modification of arguments includes both relative clauses and relative phrases.

While the vocabulary of predicates strictly defines arguments expressed in a prescribed order (generally forcing complex expressions to the end of a sentence along with less frequently stated information), the 'case tag' system allows free addition of arguments to a predication, thus minimizing constraints based on the semantics of in- dividual words. Lojban has a system for explicit and implicit ellipsis, and a specified grammar for incomplete or partial sentences to support pragmatic considerations in use of the language. We are especially interested in comments regarding other issues in pragmatics.

Computer Network Discussions on Loglan/Lojban and Linguistics (and Esperanto and ...)

Subject: The Sapir/Whorf Hypothesis

Participants:

[email protected] (John Lenarcic)
[email protected] (David Pautler)
[email protected] (David M Tate)
[email protected] (Michael K. Minakami)
[email protected] (R o d Johnson)
[email protected]
[email protected] (David Mark)
[email protected] (Colin Matheson)
[email protected] (Janet M. Swisher)
[email protected] (William Ricker)

1. jfl: Briefly stated, the [Sapir/Whorf] hypothesis is :

" Language shapes the way we think,
and determines what we can think about."

2. pautler: (responding to 1.) A professor in pragmatics told me this spring that the theory only claims that a given language forces its users to mentally keep track of certain information like time-of-occurrence, etc. that is needed to make correct decisions about tense, etc. that are required to form sentences.

3. dtate: (responding to 2.) I think this understates the hypothesis, at least in Whorf's version. Whorf claimed that, since we think in language, the language in which we think will have enormous impact on the ways in which we think, tending to reinforce certain patterns and undermine others. It could be something as blatant as having the word for "good" being etymologically related to that for "strong", tending to reinforce "might makes right" thinking, or as subtle as the lack of a socially acceptable passive voice encouraging thinking of one's self as an agent and not as an object (or, of course, the converse).

There is, to be sure, a "chicken and egg" question here: is it the language that shapes the culture, or the culture that shapes the language? The answer (IMHO) [Net abbreviation: "In my humble opinion"] is "both": the language evolves because of and in accordance with cultural forces, but after a certain point the language develops a momentum of its own, tending to carry the culture in directions already inherent in the language.

4. minakami: (responding to 2.) I think this is only the weak form of the Whorfian hypothesis. The strong version does assert that the structure and lexicon of a language shapes thought. According to J. R. Anderson: "Whorf felt that such a rich variety of terms would cause the speaker of the language to perceive the world differently from a person who had only a single word for a particular category." This stronger version of the hypothesis is generally considered disproved by Rosch's studies of color vision and similar experiments.

5. rjohnson: (responding to 2.) There are various versions of the idea around, which can be attributed to von Humboldt, Sapir, Whorf, and their commentators. The idea that language "determines what we can think about" is a very strong version of the hypothesis, probably stronger than Sapir would have liked, maybe stronger than Whorf. These things were not always stated with perfect clarity and consistency, though, so it's difficult to say.

[jfl's version in 1.] is a slightly odd-sounding version of Whorf's thesis. It's hard to say if it's a good rendering of Whorf into modern terms, but it feels rather reductive to me. At any rate, it's too narrow: Whorf was concerned with Hopi versus English way of thinking about time in that particular article, but the thesis in general isn't strictly limited to that. Hopi merely provided (or seemed to provide) a striking illustration of two different ways of thinking. Note that "ways of thinking" is in fact rather sloppy here: Whorf didn't actually investigate the ways Hopis think about time in any detail at all - he merely projected his feeling about the language onto their thinking. In essence, he assumed the truth of what later commentators saw as a "hypothesis". To Whorf, it was almost self-evident.

6. pautler: (continuation of 2.) I believe the comparison S/W used to illustrate this was the bookkeeping required by a Southwest Native American language (Hopi?) regarding the source or validation of information - evidently there are markers performing the function of "FOAF", etc. that are as necessary to well-formedness in that language (which does not mark tense) as tense is to English (which does not mark validation). Of course, the Native American language can express time-of-occurrence if need be, just as English can express source-of-information, but neither is explicitly required by the language itself. I believe the traditional example:

(~11 Inuit language words for snow) and (~1 English word for snow) ==> (Inuit language and English users think about snow differently)

might not be due to S/W and probably misrepresents their idea. But I am not a linguist, nor have I read their work. I just wanted to suggest that applications of S/W may not be what you actually want to look for.

7. rjohnson: (responding to 6.) Yes. Whorf, though, not Sapir/Whorf. Whorf, though he had had some training, was basically a gifted amateur; Sapir was less inclined to make sweeping claims - he knew how language has a way of stab- bing such claims in the back.

Boas, in fact, in the Introduction to the "Handbook of American Indian Languages" (1911) [introduces the "snow" example]. (At least this is the point at which it was introduced into linguistics.) Geoff Pullum has recently done a fairly comprehensive study of where this idea comes from and how it has mutated into "50 words for snow", "*100* words for snow," etc.

I, and I think many other linguists (though not all), have a gut feeling that somewhere, somehow, deep down, there's a kernel of truth in the idea, but no attempt to frame it as an empirical hypothesis has, to my knowledge, really led anywhere.

8. hullp: (responding to 7.) Actually, several studies have indeed led somewhere. Casagrande's 1950's studies demonstrated a so-called Whorfian effect on children's perception of shape. The comparison was between Navaho speakers (whose language mandates the marking of shape with inflections) and English speakers. There have been a few others (not many, admittedly) that have demonstrated similar effects. The problem is that most of the tests of the hypothesis have been tests of color perception and categorization. Color perception is strongly rooted in physiology and is thus uniform across cultures to a large degree. Any language effects would have to be in a domain for which there is less evidence for a physical basis.

9. dmark: (responding to 8.) In fact, Lakoff (in "Women, Fire, ...") discusses a study by Kay and Kempton that seemed to clearly demonstrate linguistic relativity in color perception. Phillip Hull is correct in pointing out the strong physiological basis of color perception. Thus different color perception due to language seems pretty powerful evidence. (I could describe the experiment, from Lakoff's account, and/or give the full reference, if people want me to.)

10. rjohnson: (responding to 8.) Thanks for this information. I guess I was using "led anywhere" in a somewhat more global sense. That is, I know there have been a smattering of studies that purport to be consistent with ("confirm" is too strong, I think) the S/W hypothesis - but it doesn't seem that any real coherent picture emerges of "thought" as a whole being strongly affected by "language" as a whole; that is, we have little evidence that "Whorfian" effects are of fundamental importance to cognition. Instead we get hints that there may be something there, but the results are mixed and often rather tentative. Does this fit with your perspective on things? (Admittedly, notions like "of fundamental importance" are pretty difficult to assess.)

On the other hand, as you say, the best-known disconfirming studies suffer from being in the relatively few areas where there probably are reliable hard-wired universals, as in Berlin and Kay's studies of color terms. In the huge gray area, evidence seems hard to come by. I was briefly involved with a cognitive science team a few years back that was grappling with some of these questions, and it seemed to me that the task of designing experiments was extraordinarily hard - every approach had serious pitfalls. I don't know how their work turned out, though.

11. colin: (responding to 7.) I agree with your gut feeling. I suppose the trouble is, as with many Linguistic issues, that the "truth" of the matter lies at such a level of abstraction that it's difficult just to talk about it. However, here's one suggestion of one version of the thesis (count the hedges!).

Perhaps it's true that the act of "compressing" abstractions into concepts represented by single lexical items or phrases has a qualitative effect on the kinds of things it is possible to talk about. Thus although it's probably the case that one can express any particular concept in any language periphrastically, it might just be that the ability to encapsulate things in immediately transferrable units affects the sorts of transfer that are possible. (Where the transfer is of information between humans.)

Is this version of the Sapir/Whorf stuff part of the original, by the way?

12. swsh: (responding to 11.) No, I don't think so. In my understanding, Whorf and Sapir were not interested so much in what "one can express" in a given language, as in the conceptual categories which underlie grammatical ones and which are used by speakers as a guide to experience. Thus, the important thing in their view is not how many words for snow a language has, but what assumptions about things like space, time, form, substance, etc., are implicit in the language's grammatical categories. The controversial part about what they, particularly Whorf, said is the thesis that speakers use these assumptions to guide their habitual beliefs and attitudes, and therefore see them as arising directly from reality, rather than projected on to it.

The "Whorfian hypothesis" is often stated as having two forms, a "hard" version (language determines thought) and a "soft" version (language and thought are kinda sorta related). From Whorf's writings, it appears that he himself held views more towards the "soft" end of the spec- trum. He shied away from saying there is a "correlation", that being too definite a word, preferring to say that it could be shown that there are cases where linguistic categories are in some way connected to cultural ones, even if it's not universally true. However, it seems to me that it would be mighty odd to find a language whose grammar revealed a categorical system that was otherwise unused by speakers, either in individual cognition, or as part of the attendant culture.

13. wdr: (responding to 11.) If I understood that periphrastic version of the hypothesis, I think it has as a corollary that English is not highly suited to it's own transfer. Which, given the context, I suspect may have been Colin's point, but if it wasn't, I'll suggest it more openly.

Is a natural language the right language in which to discuss the deficiencies of natural languages?

That it was not was one of the original motivations of the Loglan/Lojban successor of Esperanto. Can one of you sci.lang folks translate the S/W hypotheses various statements in this newsgroup lately into Lojban and give us an unbiased account of how manipulable they are in a non- formal yet unnatural language? [ed.: no one has done this yet - any volunteers?]

14. pautler: (wrapping up) Perhaps many of you are tiring of the discussion about the claims made by S/W, but I'm going to take the risk of extending the debate:

Does the S/W hypothesis suggest that we view a particular language as a collection of tools used to achieve social (communicative, in particular) goals? The analogy I have in mind is this: our ability to achieve tasks is determined by the tools we have at hand, which forces us to think about solving the task primarily in terms of what subtask each tool can achieve. Of course, we can always attempt to invent new tools if they are needed, but invention is difficult for both language conventions and tools, so the analogy still holds.

My claim, then, is this: if this is an accurate analogy, then should the S/W hypothesis be any more surprising than a claim that farmers and stockbrokers think differently about the world due to the different means they have of interacting with it?


Subject: Lojban as seen by the linguistics and cognitive science community


Participants:

[email protected] (Dan Parmenter)
[email protected] (John Cowan)
[email protected] (Michael Newton)
[email protected] (Rod Johnson)
[email protected] (David M Tate)
[email protected] (Harold Somers)
[email protected] (Lars Aronsson)
[email protected] (Bob LeChevalier)
[email protected] (Larry P Gorbet)
[email protected] (Steven Daryl McCullough)
[email protected] (David A. Johns)
[email protected] (Greg Lee)

1. dan: (starting the debate - several paragraphs below elucidate his opinions further) I have been acquainted with Lojban for a few years now, and have a few thoughts on the matter.

My overall impression is that a monumental effort is being made by an astonishingly large group of people, and that while it is quite well-intentioned, its ultimate goals are unattainable at best, and highly suspicious at worst. Some minor and major objections:

One: The audio-visual isomorphism. Presumably, this is an attempt to address the rather poor way that some written languages reflect the spoken language (such as English). This fails to predict variations of accent, as well as the language-specific biases of speakers - English speakers for instance will probably continue to mark yes-no questions with a rising tone. Of course this isn't indicated in the written form, so already the idea of audio-visual isomorphism is weak at best.

2. lojbab: (responding to 1.) Yes, English speakers probably will. But Hindi speakers probably won't. Thus rising tone (pitch) will not be a significant indication in

Lojban. Now, in the English 'dialect' of Lojban, such suprasegmentals will probably be redundant and reinforcing information to the truly significant version of the questioned contained in the words. And if for some other reason, your voice rises in pitch, if there is no 'xu', it is not a yes/no question.

As an advantage, I suspect that it will be a lot easier to get computers voice-processing the Lojban phonemes than the English suprasegmentals (Anyone have any actual knowledge on this?)

3. dan: (continuation of 1.) Furthermore, the idea of a language that assumes all of its speakers will have precisely the same accent is too terrifying to contemplate, yet Lojban's writing system would seem to depend on this fact.

4. lojbab: (responding to 3.) Lojban's prescription says nothing about 'accent'. Each of the sounds we've defined as phonemic has a certain range wherein it is phonemic. Lojban 'r' can range from a full trill to a simple flap, for example, and we've made no prescription regarding dark 'l' vs. light 'l'. Difference in these phonemes will result in different 'accents'. There will probably be less spread than most natural languages, but there will be some spread.

5. cowan: (responding to 3.) Of course [it's too terrifying to contemplate]! However, this neglects the distinction between "emic" and "etic" features of the language. The claim of audio-visual isomorphism is not that every possible distinction of speech is represented in the written form, but only that all significant distinc- tions are so represented. For example, true-false questions may be signalled (among English speakers) with a rising tone, but also must be signalled with the prefix word "xu". The "xu" carries the entire content, and will be understood by any fluent Lojbanist from whatever back- ground. The tone is superfluous.

6. dan: (responding to 5.) If every Lojban speaker were a native English speaker, you could just as easily argue that the "xu" is superfluous. But this is circular reasoning. Is the purpose of Lojban to be spoken in a dull monotone? Or do you expect the writing system to evolve to account for any variations in tone that might come along? Suppose some third-generation Lojban speakers always mark yes-no questions with a falling tone accompanied by a series of elaborate hand-jives (gestures are expressive too), will you mark this in the written version as well? How do you determine what a "significant" feature of the language is?

7. cowan: (responding to 6.) We determine significant features by defining them. Again, this is a constructed language, and a posteriori reasoning appropriate to natural (non-constructed) languages doesn't necessarily fit all cases.

In the baseline version of Lojban, the way of marking a true-false question is to prefix it with "xu". This is true by definition, a priori. Once the language is baselined, the normal processes of linguistic change may indeed alter the marking system to something involving tone, gesture, or toe-wiggling. At that time, Lojban will be a natural language (defined here as one having native speakers) and will need to be investigated by the methods of ordinary synchronic linguistics.

(When Bob LeChevalier, the most fluent speaker at present, speaks in the language, he does tend to talk in a monotone, possibly bending over backwards to avoid influence from English suprasegmentals. He does hesitate longer between sentences than at other mandatory pauses, though.)

8. lojbab: (responding to 6.) That would be a truly odd purpose for a language - to be spoken in a monotone. :-)

The writing system would not need recognize variations in pitch, gestures, or any other feature of spoken language unless these came to convey variations in meaning that were not already reflected (and reflectable) in the written lan- guage. In addition, since human-computer interaction using Lojban is intended to be significant in its usefulness, it seems unlikely that there will evolve variations that cannot be easily recognized AND reproduced by a computer listener/speaker.

A significant feature of a logical language, of course, is one that affects the truth conditions of its statements. A change or variation in the language would not be 'significant' unless it affected such truth conditions. A change which introduced ambiguity would obviously be significant.

9. cowan: (continuation of 5.) Note also that audio-visual isomorphism cuts both ways. It ensures not only that every "emic" feature of speech is representable in writing, but also that features of text such as paragraphing, structural punctuation, parenthesis, and layout have representations in speech. For example, the word "ni'o" signals a change of subject and is used to separate spoken paragraphs; likewise, non-mathematical parentheses are pronounced "to" for "(" and "toi" for ")".

10. dan: (continuation of 1., from 3.) TWO: Sapir/Whorf is tacitly assumed by almost everyone that I've talked to in connection to Lojban. This isn't unusual, since it's also assumed by an astonishing portion of the world at large.

11. cowan: (responding to 10.) The Lojban project is founded on assuming the truth of SWH; the falsity of SWH is the null hypothesis. To develop Lojban at all, we must assume SWH. If Lojban turns out to have no effect on thought, i.e. to be a mere code, SWH will not be confirmed. (This is not to say it will be disproved.)

12. lojbab: (responding to 10.) Assumed to be what? True? No. Important enough to test? Yes. If Sapir-Whorf is important enough to test, then Lojban must be designed with features that will likely have a noticeable effect, while being sufficiently culturally neutral that non-Lojban variables can be at least statistically removed.

The Lojban design HAS to assume that Sapir-Whorf is true, or that design will be meaningless for experimental purposes.

As to whether those working on the language 'tacitly assume' Sapir-Whorf, I doubt it. There are no doubt many who believe SWH true, and a couple I know of who believe it false, but are willing to see. Most are fairly open- minded. In any case, if we are being 'good scientists', our individual opinions on the hypotheses we investigate shouldn't matter, since some degree of professional detachment is expected. When I work on Lojban as a researcher, I try to turn off that part of me that does 'Lojban promotion' (admittedly a bit more biased). I rely on peer review to catch any biases from my personal views that slip into my work. Given the wide disparity of views among Lojban workers, and our sensitivity towards avoiding unnecessary bias, I'm confident that there is no problem.

If Sapir-Whorf (or its equivalent - since a lot of people assume it without even knowing it exists) is tacitly assumed by the world, it seems an especially important question to investigate scientifically. If SWH is used by some to justify racism, some concrete data to attack such use is more effective than personal distaste. Just because a scientific question has political ramifications based on its possible outcomes does not mean that the question shouldn't be asked, or moreover, shouldn't be answered.

13. dan: (responding to 12.) Yes, I'd say that a surprisingly large number of people when informed about S/W will automatically assume it to be true. The issue to me is one of putting the cart before the horse: to whit, many people have astonishingly racist attitudes about a wide range of phenomena. Language is no exception. If you read the literature of the whole English First movement, one sees thinly veiled racism of the worst sort. Also witness the thinly veiled classism of most of the prescriptivists - the goal is to avoid sounding "low class". Even something as simple as differing accents within a homogeneous speech community can cause people to raise their eyebrows. Human beings seem to have an overwhelming urge to pigeonhole people by any method possible. What does this have to do with S/W? Well, given that nobody seems particularly satisfied either way with the results of actual psy- cholinguistic tests that have been tried, if someone believes S/W then they can choose to ignore any test results that seem to go against it and start to make some pretty frightening statements.

14. dan: (continuation of 1., from 10.) What I'm getting at is that there is a serious danger that people who believe in the S/W hypothesis will use this belief to make claims about their language being superior to someone else's. The empirical basis for these claims has already been discussed, so I won't get into it, except to say that I remain unconvinced by the S/W hypothesis.

15. cowan: (responding to 10 and 14.) One of the major workers in Lojban [ed.: pc] believes that SWH is in fact false. There is as diverse a variety of views on SWH in the Lojban community as on any other subject.

16. lojbab: (responding to 14.) Yes, there is [a serious danger]. But there is also the chance that if SWH is true, that the reverse will happen. Based on the natural selection paradigm (also perhaps questionable with regard to languages - but the analogy is useful), if one language is 'superior' to another in some small area (such as mathematical thinking - as in the previous example), the fact that the other language survives indicates that it also has some compensating advantages that suit its niche.

Thus Sapir-Whorf might help us see the virtue in all languages and cultures. I certainly don't think that if Lojban was proved able to assist or improve logical thinking, that it should displace English or any other language. To borrow someone else's line, Lojban becomes another tool in the linguistic tool chest. You learn it like an English speaker learns French or FORTRAN, to meet a communication need that is not well served by English.

17. dan: (responding to 16.) I am told that among anthropologists, S/W in some form, is popular.

18. lojbab: (responding to 17.) Indeed. I know that in the Loglan/Lojban community, Reed Riner at Northern Arizona and John Atkins and Carol Eastman at Washington are anthropologists that were/are interested in S/W.

In addition, there is another 'related field' that makes heavy use of S/W, either directly, or in an evolved form. Semiotics apparently uses a lot of ideas these days that at least tacitly assume some degree of cultural relativity, and I'm told Umberto Eco, is particularly 'Whorfian' in his ideas. I don't know these things directly, having no meaningful exposure to semiotics. My source is Robert Gorsch at St. Mary's College in CA, who teaches En- glish/Semiotics/Linguistics there. He's been developing an introductory course in Semiotics showing the evolution of S/W into current semiotics theories (incidentally relying on Esperanto and Lojban as primary examples). We published his course outline and bibliography in a recent issue of our internal journal, Ju'i Lobypli.

19. dan: (responding to 18.) Eco is interested in a number of theories that are out of vogue among Chomskian linguists. He also seems to have an interest in the so- called "meaning-based" theories of language, posited by people like Schank, in the NLP [natural language processing] community. He devotes some space to Schank's theory of conceptual dependency in several books (titles forgotten ...sorry!).

Many of fields related and unrelated to semiotics also make use of certain Whorfian arguments. Some feminist theorists have an axe to grind about how language is used to oppress women.

20. dan: (continuing 17.) To me, the idea of linguistic equality - that all languages are more or less created equal, is a much more egalitarian view. It jibes well with my notion that all people are created equal. This principle forms the basis for much in the way of my political views. I don't want to get into a debate here about the politics of language, but it's something I feel very strongly about.

21. lgorbet: (responding to 20.) The phrase in Dan's recent posts that confuses me a lot is "all languages are equal". So far as I can see that may well - probably has nothing to do with whether (some version or other of) S/W is true or not.

I suspect the most common belief of linguists who think about S/W at all is that (a) S/W is true; and (b) all languages are "equal". AND you seem to be assuming that the truth of S/W entails inequality (in some unstated sense) of languages. All S/W says, even in the strongest versions I know anyone competent who believes, is that lan- guages are different in ways that leads their speakers to tend to think differently.

Thanks to work by lots of folk over the past half century (oops, more than that), it's pretty clear that different languages have lots in common as well as some striking differences. So probably most of us (my wild supposition, I admit) think that the impact of a true S/W would not be all that huge a difference. But a difference in conceptualization and knowledge is not the same thing as inequality.

It almost seems to me that to assume that different ways of thinking are unequal ways of thinking plays into the hands of racists even more...

This is NOT a flame. You raise some important issues, many of which I agree with, especially about the ways our work can get abused by those with an unsavory agenda.

[The discussion of Sapir-Whorf and its possible racist use continued for quite a while, and is omitted.]

22. dan (continuation of 1., from 14.): This empirical basis is something that I use as a foundation for my personal ideological beliefs with regard to such issues as English-only laws and prescriptivism (by the likes of Safire, Lederle, Simon et al.). It seems to me that the Lojbanists, who are already claiming that the language makes them think more clearly on certain things are setting themselves up for a type of elitism that I find frightening.

THREE: Lojban's allegedly unambiguous syntax. The bottom line is that "plastic cat food can cover" is still ambiguous in Lojban.

23. cowan: (responding to 22.) This English utterance is ambiguous in three different ways. Syntactically, it might be a noun phrase (a kind of cover) or a sentence (asserting that plastic cat food is capable of covering something). Lojban does not have this kind of ambiguity: the first would be "lo slasi mlatu cidja lante gacri" and the second would be "lo slasi mlatu cidja ka'e gacri".

24. harold: (responding to 23.) Well, I think you'll find that syntactically the phrase is MUCH more ambiguous: as a noun phrase, ignoring the semantic ambiguity of any noun+noun pairing (e.g. "cat food" = food for cats, food made of cats, food which looks like a cat; "can cover" = cover for a can, cover made out of a can; "plastic cat" = cat made out of plastic, cat which behaves like plastic, cat which belongs to plastic, etc) it has readings [numbers added for later cross-reference]:

  a cover for plastic cat food cans i.e. 
  a cover for cans which contain plastic cat food i.e.
1 a cover for cans which contain food for plastic cats or
2 a cover for cans which contain plastic food for cats or
3 a cover for plastic cans which contain cat food or else 
  a can cover for plastic cat food i.e.
4 a can cover for food for plastic cats or
5 a can cover for plastic food for cats or else 
  a food can cover for plastic cats i.e.
6 a cover for a food can for plastic cats or
7 a can cover for food for plastic cats or else 
  a cat food can cover made of plastic i.e. 
  a cover, made of plastic, for cat food cans i.e.
8 a cover, made of plastic, for cans for cat food or
9 a cover, made of plastic, for food cans for cats

25. cowan: (responding to 24.) Let me render each of these forms into Lojban. As a glossary, slasi 'plastic', mlatu 'cat', cidja 'food', lante 'can', and gacri 'cover' take care of all the content words, each of which (luckily for me) has a single-word Lojban equivalent. I will comment on the function words I use as I use them.

It should be stated from the start that Lojban interprets dyadic compounds as <modifier> followed by <modificand>, in other words AN [adjective-noun order], although this can be changed with the particle "co".

[numbers relate back to English in 24.] 1) "slasi mlatu cidja lante gacri". This form is totally unmarked, and has the meaning of the English 1) because Lojban associates left-to-right. In other words, "slasi mlatu cidja lante" modifies "gacri", "slasi mlatu cidja" modifies "lante", "slasi mlatu" modifies "cidja", and "slasi" modifies "mlatu". 2) "slasi mlatu bo cidja lante gacri". The function word "bo" causes the two content words surrounding it to be most closely associated. So "mlatu" modifies "cidja". Otherwise, left-to-right modification remains intact, so that "slasi" modifies "mlatu bo cidja", etc. 3) "slasi je mlatu bo cidja lante gacri". Here we make two coordinated claims about the "lante", namely that it is of type "mlatu bo cidja" (a cat-food can) and that it is "slasi" (plastic). So we insert the particle "je" which means this type of "and". (There are several Lojban words for "and", but "je" is the one that's grammatical in this context). 4) "slasi mlatu cidja lante bo gacri". Here "lante" and "gacri" are grouped, so that "slasi mlatu cidja" (food for plastic cats) modifies "lante bo gacri" (can-type-of cover). 5) "slasi mlatu bo cidja lante bo gacri". Here we have three components grouped in left-to-right order: "slasi", "mlatu bo cidja", and "lante bo gacri". Therefore "slasi mlatu bo cidja" modifies "lante bo gacri", making this a plastic cat-food type of can-cover. 6) "slasi bo mlatu cidja bo lante gacri". Here again we have three components, but different ones from those appearing in 5). 8) "slasi je ke mlatu cidja lante ke'e gacri". Here we introduce the new particles "ke" and "ke'e". These group in the same way that "bo" does, but everything between "ke" and "ke'e" is grouped. Wherever "bo" appears between two words, it can be replaced by "ke" before the first and "ke'e" after the second. So 4) can be rewritten as "slasi mlatu cidja ke lante gacri", with elision of "ke'e" at the end of the phrase. This is an example of a general point about Lojban: most things are expressible using both "forethought" and "afterthought" forms, comparable to the difference in English between "both A and B" and "A and B". In this case, we need the whole of "mlatu cidja lante" to group as one modifier, so "bo" is not usable. We also need "je" because again two claims are being made, that the cover is both plastic and for cat-food cans. 9) "slasi je mlatu bo cidja bo lante gacri". Here "bo" serves us again, in contradistinction to 8), because of an additional rule that comes into play when "bo" appears on both sides of an element: it is right-grouping. So whereas "A B C" means that "A B" modifies "C", "A bo B bo C" means that A modifies "B bo C". So here we claim that the cover is both plastic and is of type "cat food-can".

There are other ways to express these ideas if the constraint on ordering the content words is relaxed. There are also lots of other possibilities expressible by the Lojban syntax, such as "slasi bo mlatu bo cidja bo lante bo gacri", which might be a plastic type of food-can cover for use by cats. In addition, "je" (and) can be replaced by "ja" (inclusive or) or "jonai" (exclusive or) or any of the other Boolean relationship, or by various non-logical connectives such as "joi" (mass mixture): "slasi joi mlatu cidja" would be food made from plastic and from cats [mixed together].

26. cowan: (continuing 23.) In the English utterance, it is unclear exactly what modifies what.

27. harold: (responding to 26., continuing 24.) I don't think so. Of the above interpretations, there is a more or less clear ranking of preference, notwithstanding some context which promotes an unusual reading (e.g. a story about plastic cats): I find (8) the most plausible, with (3) next best. The least plausible are the ones involving plastic cats or plastic food.

28. cowan: (continuing 23., from 26.) So Lojban's unmarked form is grouped left-to-right unambiguously, and other groupings can be unambiguously marked by the insertion of appropriate structure words.

29. harold: (responding to 28., continuing 27.) It is relatively easy to construct plausible noun phrases consisting of five consecutive nouns for all the above patterns, just by substituting more appropriate nouns: e.g.

  1 tabby cat food can cover
  2 soya-bean cat food can cover
  3 (already plausible)
  4 =1
  5 =2
  6 =1
  7 =1
  8 (preferred reading)
  9 (already plausible)

And of course, we can construct longer sequences of noun phrases, with even larger numbers of ambiguities.

Can Lojban handle all of these, and, more important, would we want a language to do so? The point is that most of the readings are implausible for semantic reasons, but all (or most) groupings are possible, given the appropriate words. The same thing happens with PP attachment by the way. The problem is that you cannot tell a priori which grouping will be plausible: NLP [natural language processing] programs have to try all possible groupings and then test them for semantic coherence, a terrible waste of effort with big noun phrases or sequences of ambiguous words like:

Gas pump prices rose last time oil stocks fell

in each word is at least two-ways ambiguous (all are both nouns and verbs, and some are also adjectives).

30. aronsson: (responding to 28.) What if the intended grouping was "(plastic and ((cat type of food) type of can)) type of cover"? That is a plastic cover for these cans (which are probably made of tin - I would consider this more probable) rather than a generic cover for these plastic cans. Would the sentence still translate into "lo slasi je mlatu bo cidja lante gacri"? Could the same sentence also mean "(((plastic and cat) type of food) type of can) type of cover"? (Never mind why anybody would make plastic food - that is semantics!) If any of the above, Lojban must be considered ambiguous.

31. cowan: (responding to 30.) No. "(plastic and ((cat type of food) type of can) type of cover" would be "lo slasi je ke mlatu cidja lante ke'e gacri", where "ke" and "ke'e" are logical parentheses. "(((plastic and cat) type of food) type of can) type of cover)" would be "lo slasi je mlatu cidja lante gacri" because "je" has higher precedence than concatenation, though lower than "bo".

32. aronsson: (continuing 30.) Or what if both modifiers have a more complex form? In the example above, the modifier plastic has the simplest possible form, but consider a phrase like (I wrote this with Emacs LISP mode!)

                                                           
 ((some-special type of plastic)                           
  and                                                      
  (((cat or	dog)                                           
    type of	food)                                          
      type of can))                                        
type of cover                                              
                                                           

Here, parenthesis are needed not only for the general grouping, but also to unambiguously determine the precedence of "and" and "or"! IMHO [Net abbreviation: "In my humble opinion"], there are exactly two ways of designing a ambiguous-free language, none of which will make it look like any human language: 1) Using parenthesis as in LISP [see examples above] and 2) Using only very short sentences as in ordinary computer machine language. In case 2, the example would read:

  Cover.                                                   
  Cover  for      can.                                     
  Can    for      food.                                    
  Food   for      cat.                                     
  Cover  made of  plastic.                                 

33. cowan: (responding to 32.) The first method (parenthesis) is employed, using "ke"/"ke'e" parenthesis marks as needed. This is not supposed to "look like any natural language"; this is precisely the area where Lojban differs from all natural languages, and constitutes the evidence that Lojban is not an "{English, Chinese, etc.}- based code".

"And" and "or" have the same precedence and are left associative; simple concatenation is also left associative, whereas "bo" (which semantically is the same as concatenation, i.e. undefined) is high-precedence and right associative.

34. cowan: (continuing 23., from 28.) On a third level, a phrase like "cat food" is ambiguous semantically. Is it food for cats or food consisting of cats? Here Lojban really is ambiguous, but the ambiguity is semantic not syntactic. The three main kinds of ambiguity in Lojban (this kind, ellipsis, and the ambiguity of names (which Sam?)) are all semantic in nature. As in any natural language, any of these ambiguities can be "expanded" on the semantic level by adding more information: "lo mlatu cidja" (a cat type of food) could become "da poi cidja loi mlatu" (something which is-food-for the-mass-of cats).

35. dan: (responding to 34.) Semantic ambiguity is present all over the place. How does Lojban handle issues like quantifier scope ambiguity? In English, a sentence like "Every man loves a fish" is ambiguous. If Lojban merely paraphrases such utterances, to two separate utterances along the lines of:

"For all x, There exists a y such that x loves y"
"There exists a y for all x such that x loves y" 

while tolerating some version of the original utterance, than nothing has been accomplished. I can do the same thing in English.

36. cowan: (responding to 35.)

1) Lojban has mechanisms for setting quantifier scopes, involving explicit quantifiers appearing in a prenex.

2) Loglan/Lojban has never claimed to be free of semantic ambiguity. Your original objection 3 [see 22. above] (refers to "allegedly unambiguous syntax", but on investigation your objections are to semantic rather than syntactic ambiguity. Our claims are: a) Lojban is free of phonological, morphological, and syntactic ambiguity, and b) Lojban semantic ambiguity is present only in clearly marked places within the language: a Lojbanist knows when he/she is using an ambiguous form, and can replace it as needed with unambiguous ones.

37. lojbab: (responding to 35.) I disagree [with dan]. For one thing, if Lojban can express the multiple meanings better and more clearly than English, and if the expressions can be more easily manipulated logically, this would presumably 'enhance logical thinking' if SWH is true.

Lojban doesn't 'tolerate some version of the original' in the sense that the parallel translation to "Every man loves a fish" - "ro nanmu cu prami pa finpe" is not equivalent to both English paraphrases.

38. dan: (responding to 37.) So what's the gloss of the Lojban sentence? Which reading does it correspond to? Is there a quick and easy way to disambiguate?

39. cowan: (responding to 38.) The Lojban rule is that quantifiers are applied in the order in which they appear in the sentence, so "ro nanmu cu prami pa finpe", literally "all man love one fish" means "For all men X, there exists one fish Y, such that X loves Y." The other interpretation could be given by "converting" the predicate with the particle "se". This operation reverses the order of the arguments to a predicate. "pa finpe se prami ro nanmu", literally "one fish be-loved-by all man" means "There exists one fish Y, for all men X, such that X loves Y." Note that conversion is analogous to the passive voice but has no semantic significance other than this inversion of quantifiers.

Lojban also has machinery for expressing the quantifiers externally in a prenex, terminated by the word "zo'u". So another set of Lojban paraphrases for your sentences above is "ro da poi nanmu pa de poi finpe zo'u da prami de", literally "all X which is-a-man, one Y which is-a-fish, X loves Y"; and "pa de poi finpe ro da poi nanmu zo'u da prami de", literally "one Y which is-a-fish, all X which is-a-man, X loves Y". Presumably, a transformational grammar of Lojban would derive both of these surface structures (with and without prenex) from the same underlying deep structures.

What Lojban does not have is any sentence which means both of your two forms ambiguously.

40. lojbab: (continuation of 37, in response to 35.) You cannot 'do the same thing in English'. Even if the two English paraphrases are considered 'standard English' (and many linguists do not, identifying them as a jargon), neither is the same as Dan's original. Fill in 'man' for 'x' and 'fish' for 'y', and the result is ungrammatical:

  • "For all man, there exists a fish such that man loves fish."
  • "There exists a fish for all man such that man loves fish."

It takes some extensive manipulations to turn these into grammatical sentences, and the results are not 'obviously' the same as the English original. These same manipulations do not suffice for all possible substitutions: if 'x' is 'George' and 'y' is 'fish', or if 'x' is 'George' and 'y' is 'Mary', you have to perform different transforms. In Lojban, the transforms are independent of the value.

41. aronsson: (responding to 34.) I fail to see the difference. When designing an artificial language one could outlaw all use of modifiers without modifier indicators (prepositions or similar). Thus it would have been possible for the Lojban designers to make "cat food" illegal, only allowing "food for cats" or "food made-of cats". If they did not do this, they obviously failed to design an ambiguity-free language.

42. cowan: (responding to 41.) We didn't want to make the language semantically unambiguous.

1) The language is phonologically, morphologically, and syntactically unambiguous; and

2) the language is semantically ambiguous only in specified areas, of which this is one (making open com- pounds by concatenation).

43. dan: (continuation of 1., from 22.) Natural languages are not unambiguous. From the acquisition side, ambiguous languages are much easier to learn for a child than a logical language would be. The principles of Universal Grammar [UG] do not seem to produce unambiguous languages, and all natural languages are constructed according to the principles of UG.

44. cowan: (responding to 43.) A lot of unproven assumptions here. Common assumptions, yes, but still unproven. We simply don't know whether a child could become competent in Lojban. Maybe when the language is complete and documented, somebody will be inspired to start raising bilingual children. There are native speakers of Esperanto, after all, whose parents have no other language in common.

45. kimba: (responding to 43.) If you're going to get stuck into people for assuming Sapir/ Whorf, I think you had better not be so blase about assuming the existence of "the principles of UG". The way you throw it in "jargonwise" I assume you mean the Chomskian notion, which will meet with plenty of disagreement. I suppose you could claim to mean any statements about properties which all/no languages have, but then the 2nd clause is vacuous.

46. dan: (responding to 45.) I do tacitly assume UG. To me, it seems a whole lot easier to swallow than SW, or other theories of linguistic relativism.

47. dtate: (responding to 46.) What a strange comment.

As far as I can tell, UG (as a hypothesis about language) and SW (as a hypothesis about language and thought) are independent. Buying into UG wouldn't make me more or less apt to buy into S/W, nor vice versa. They're certainly not competing theories. They address totally different topics.

I think the giveaway here is the phrase "linguistic relativism". I can't tell from context exactly what Dan means by this. It looks like the link is something like "S/W says that how you think is influenced by what language you think in; UG says there's an underlying deep structure common to all languages; conflict". But of course there is no conflict; every language has its own grammatical and etymological idiosyncrasies, whether deep structure exists or not, and these idiosyncrasies are the fuel for S/W. The existence of deep structure cannot refute the fact that languages differ in significant ways, any more than a proof of S/W would disprove the existence of deep structure common to all languages.

48. lojbab: (responding to 43.) Whether UG is 'real', a question better discussed by others, I know of no useful evidence for the claim [that UG forbids unambiguous languages]. That there is no unambiguous language today is irrelevant, since nearly all languages evolved from some earlier language, interacting with other languages, etc. Most sources of ambiguity probably can be tied to these evolutionary processes. Lojban might also succumb to such ambiguity, but as an a priori language constructed after the printing press, having (unlike other languages) a complete prescription it has a lot better likelihood of re- sistance to 'undesirable' change. There is no way to tell if the misuse of 'hopefully' or split infinitives would have entered English if a) there had not already been a tolerance in English for non-standard usages of this type and b) either of these truly resulted in mis-communication. Note that 'misplaced modifiers', which can in some instances cause miscommunication, are a different question, and are probably frowned on by most speakers IF they become aware of the ambiguity. In Lojban, of course, the speaker WILL be more aware of the ambiguity - at least so we hope.

49. dan: (continuation of 1., from 43.) In the unlikely event that a native Lojban speaker ever exists, it will probably actually be speaking its parent native language with some version of Lojban vocabulary.

50. cowan: (responding to 49.) I presume you mean "parents' native language". As I mentioned above, its parents might not have the same native language.

51. dan: (continuation of 1., from 49.) But even that is unlikely since even the phonology (like everything else in the language) is arbitrary, and it is questionable how easy it would be for a child to learn.

52. rjohnson: (responding to 51.) Isn't the phonology of any language arbitrary in this sense? No language avails itself of all the possibilities.

53. dan: (responding to 52.) Yes, but certain combinations are unlikely to occur.

54. cowan: (responding to 53.) I don't understand this claim. The phonology is the least arbitrary thing about the language. Lojban has six vowels and 18 consonants, all of which are exceedingly familiar and found in many languages world-wide: German, for example, has all of them (although Lojban 'j' is rare in German and found mostly in borrowings from French). On the suprasegmental level, Lojban has two levels of stress (primary and weak) and significant pauses; where "pause" may represent either a complete silence or a glottal stop. Tone is not signifi- cant, as mentioned above.

55. dan: (responding to 54.) See what I mean about arbitrary? The Lojban engineers have decided that tone isn't important and that pauses are the same as glottal stops. This is lunacy!

56. rjohnson: (responding to 54. and 55, also 1.-8.) By the way, both of you [cowan and dan] are abusing the term "tone". You're talking about pitch. Tone, by definition, involves significant pitch contrasts. You can't have tone be unimportant in a language. If morphemes are systemati- cally contrastive in pitch, the language has tone; if not, there is no tone.

57. dan: (responding to 56.) Guilty as charged. Sorry about that.

58. cowan: (responding to 56.) Thanks for this correction.

59. cowan: (responding to 55.) Of course it's arbitrary in the sense that we select some features of the total human phonological repertoire and not others, but so does every natural language. The phonemes we use are found in many natural languages, and there exists at least one natural language (viz. German) that contains all of them. The consonant clusters and diphthongs we use are also all to be found in natural languages. We go to some pains to prevent

difficult clusters like *td or *fz; we also limit which consonant clusters can be used initially to a subset.

Pauses and glottal stops are the "same" in Lojban in the sense that they are allophones. In German, the phones [r] and [R] are the "same" in exactly the same sense: they are allophones of /r/ in free variation.

60. lojbab: (responding to 55.) Tone is reflected poorly or not-at-all in writing systems of the world, as is pitch and speech rhythm. Audio-visual isomorphism therefore precluded these being critical to disambiguation and we chose better ways to convey the equivalent meanings. In each case where we did so, a similar mechanism is found in some natural languages. For example, in French "est-ce que" almost exactly parallels Lojban 'xu'.

61. dan: (responding to 60.) Which is one of the many reasons that linguists concentrate on spoken language.

62. lojbab: (continuation of 60.) Pause in Lojban is used only to preserve morphological distinctions. For example, you must pause before a [word-initial] vowel to protect against it being absorbed into the previous word either as a final vowel in a consonant-final word or as a diphthong. A glottal stop provides similar separation of sounds; hence it is phonemically equivalent to a pause.

In neither case was the decision arbitrary; we had a good reason for each. This is in general true throughout Lojban - a decision to choose one form over many was primarily to achieve unambiguity. In other circumstances, we chose the least restrictive form possible (thus making tense, number, gender, etc. optional and hence more highly marked forms).

63. dan: (continuation of 1., from 51.) In typically blundering fashion, the Lojban engineers have ignored this issue, concentrating entirely on the learnability issue for SECOND language acquisition, that is, adults learning a second language, with no native competence.

64. cowan: (responding to 63.) (You raise an interesting side issue here. Do you argue a priori that persons learning a language as adults cannot achieve competence which is empirically indistinguishable from that of native speakers?)

65. dan: (responding to 64.) I guess I do. A Native French speaker might learn English well enough to be indistinguishable from a native English speaker, but he or she will not have native competence. In other words, you cannot ask that speaker a question regarding something like say, contraction and get a truthful answer.

66. daj: (responding to 65.) Even worse, you would never be able to use this speaker as a guinea pig in a SWH test, since he would be a native speaker of two languages, so his perception of the world would be conditioned by both. This would be true for any bilingual speaker, it seems to me. So you'll never be able to test the SWH until you have a "pure strain" of Lojban speakers.

67. cowan: (responding to 66.) Some Lojbanists agree, and say we will need to wait for a second generation. Another viewpoint is that by having people who speak Lojban+English, Lojban+French, Lojban+Vietnamese, Lojban+Navajo, etc. etc. we will be able to factor out the Lojban contribution when compared with people bilingual in two natural languages.

("Bilingual" here means "bilingual within the acquisition period".)

68. dan: (continuation of 65.) E.g. In English, one can contract words like "he" and "is", but only in particular circumstances. Hence:

 He's a nice boy
 Isn't he a nice boy?/* yes, he's

The starred sentence is ungrammatical, the contraction is not acceptable in that position. It is acceptable in the first sentence. A native French speaker who knows English might be able to guess on that, but he or she certainly would NOT have a reliable intuition on the matter.

69. rjohnson: (responding to 68.) I have to agree with Dan here, sort of. I don't think the distinction to be made is between L1 and L2 competence, though, but between critical- period learning and post-critical-period (or "adult") learning. I think it's pretty clear that they're two different processes (though of course they may share some features). An adult learner may indeed learn a language well-enough to pass an operationalist sort of test (i.e., be indistinguishable from a native speaker), but shouldn't be taken as a reliable judge of grammaticalness.

70. cowan: (responding to 63, continuation of 64.) We know that the phonology is learnable by children, because it is a subset of phonologies which children can and do learn. We have every reason to believe that the vocabulary is learnable: the words are similar in morphology to those existing in natural languages, and the consonant clusters and diphthongs are all to be found in natural languages.

71. dan: (responding to 70.) Yes, but if there is a theory of phonological universals, then it is argued that certain combinations simply won't ever occur. Did the Lojban engineers take this into account, accept at the most rudimentary level? I doubt it.

72. cowan: (responding to 71.) What do you call "rudimentary"?

[Brief summary of Lojban phonology omitted.]

The rules are arbitrary, yes, but I should like to be shown wherein they are unlearnable. Furthermore, they need to be known only to people inventing new words: several of them are relaxed for borrowings and names.

73. lojbab: (responding to 71.) An interesting conditional, that first sentence. Is Dan claiming that there is a theory or not? Is he claiming that certain combinations won't occur? He seems to be claiming that Lojban has combinations that cannot occur but gives no examples. He'll have trouble finding them.

We did indeed take phonological universals into account in several ways. In the first place, as John Cowan mentions, the set of permitted sounds was selected as a subset of those found in many languages. We constrained consonant clusters by restrictive rules that recognize phonological properties like voiced/voiceless assimilation and included redundancy as a criteria in assigning words, reducing the number of minimal pairs distinctions. We added the apostrophe to prevent unwanted diphthongization; it represents devoicing of the glide between two adjacent vowels.

In addition, the frequency of sounds in predicate words should statistically parallel the sum of the corresponding frequencies in our six source languages. (For those unfamiliar, most of Lojban's predicate root words are formed by maximizing the appearance of phoneme patterns found in those source languages weighted by approximate number of speakers.)

I would say that more time has been spent overall during Loglan/Lojban's history on the interaction between phonology and morphology than on any other single feature of the language. This is probably because it is the best documented feature of the design and also the most easily compared to other languages.

74. cowan: (responding to 63, continuation of 70.) What we don't know is whether the grammar is learnable by a child. We won't know that until the experiment is tried, first by raising a bilingual or trilingual child, and then eventu- ally as part of a community of monolingual speakers.

75. lojbab: (responding to 63.) We've hardly ignored the question [of learnability by children]. However, from what I've read, children learn languages from adult role models. We need adult fluent speakers therefore in order to teach children. Within the next two decades at least, all such adults will be 2nd language speakers. So why not concentrate now on what we can do something about.

76. dan: (responding to 75.) My point from my first posting on has been that I can't imagine any child being able to acquire something as baroque as Lojban in its current form. My understanding of acquisition is that non- ambiguity is sacrificed in favor of learnability.

77. cowan: (responding to 76.) Maybe so. After all, the English my daughter spoke at the age of two was hardly "acceptable" as a full adult English, although now (at three) her English is clearly acceptable (she seems to be a bit in advance of her age-mates in this respect). There is no reason to think that a Lojban-speaking child would be different.

In one respect, some of the simpler Lojban constructions like observatives (bare predicators without arguments) are more analogous to young-child linguistic forms. The English utterance "Dog!" is a bit deviant, in that English- speakers would think it rather odd for an adult to say simply "Dog!" on seeing a dog, but for a child this utterance would be quite acceptable. The exact Lojban translation "gerku", on the other hand, is fully grammatical and not at all deviant.

78. lojbab: (responding to 76.) Baroque? Compared to natural languages, Lojban is incredibly simple, and children acquire natural languages (else they would not be 'natural'). Now whether Lojban will be seen as simple to a child is a valid question, but there is no reason to believe otherwise, and we'll know soon enough.

How can non-ambiguity be sacrificed in favor of learnability in natural languages acquisition? They aren't unambiguous in the first place. To whatever extent there IS unambiguity, the sheer complexity and irregularity of most of the language would overwhelm this. Lojban, being so much simpler to express unambiguously, MIGHT be able to be acquired unambiguously or at least relatively so (with the child growing into more accurate usage with age and understanding just as children of the natural languages do).

79. dan: (responding to 78.) I was suggesting that ambiguous languages are easier to learn than unambiguous ones. There aren't any unambiguous natural languages that I know of, so it's difficult to test this.

An unambiguous language would require enough additional baggage, that it would make learning it unwieldy. An ambiguous language has fewer rules. And just for the record, let's get things straight with regard to our definition of "rules". By rules, I mean rules that are used to characterize the language, not rules in the pre- scriptive sense.

The average child learns his or her language (barring language disorders or highly unusual circumstances) quite rapidly, ambiguity and all.

As to whether Lojban is baroque or not, the question is this: If there were hypothetical native speakers of Lojban, how complicated would an abstract characterization of their competence be? If such an abstract characterization were more complicated than a similar characterization of say, Klammath, then I would stand by my assertion.

Of course, one might beg the question and ask whether such abstractions are meaningful at all (as the Schankians do), but that's a whole other ball o' wax (quite interesting too).

80. lee: (responding to 76.) The discussion of irregularity might profit from distinguishing types of irregularity:

  1. semantic irregularity - no one-to-one correspondence between form and meaning, as for example when phonological changes produce variations in the form of a stem;
  2. morphological irregularity - no uniform way of deriving related words, as in the examples of archaic paradigms;
  3. distributional irregularity - certain combinations of forms (or features) are not permitted, for instance when obligatory phonological changes eliminate some phone(me) combinations;
  4. form class irregularity - it is not possible to distinguish forms or their categories directly from their pronunciation, as when a phonological change is extended from word-internal to cross word boundaries, making it more difficult to tell where words begin and end.

Then it's interesting to catalog the various ways that changes which remedy one sort of irregularity may create others.

81. lojbab: (responding to 80.) Each of these has a corresponding 'ambiguity', as well, in which various degrees of inconsistency and inconstancy exist in the rules for building and interpreting forms of each of these types. Lojban has defined regularity and unambiguity in the last three. We can expect to directly observe the causes and effects that result in changes in these areas.

82. lojbab: (continuation of 75., responding to 63.) There are several Lojbanists that have indicated intent to try to raise their children as bilingual Lojban/natural-language speakers, probably the best that can and should be attempted until/unless Lojban proves its value. I cer- tainly wouldn't ask anyone to raise children solely Lojban- speaking; it would smack of human-experimentation to me (an issue I'm fairly sensitive on).

83. dan: Some Lojban propaganda claims that the language has been characterized by a transformational grammar, but this has never actually been demonstrated, and seems quite unlikely, since I would imagine that a native speaker would be required to characterize a Lojban-user's competence. Since there probably will never BE a native Lojban speaker, how can you possibly ask one whether XXXX is an allowable sentence or word of his or her language? Current Lojban speakers are of no use, because they do not have such intu- itions about the language any more than a fluent second- language speaker of French (a French speaker whose native language is say Hindi) would have such intuitions about French.

84. cowan: (responding to 83.) This illustrates a confusion between natural and constructed languages. In a natural language, the source of competence is the native speaker's intuition. In a constructed language, during the construction phase (which Lojban is still in, though rapidly coming to the end of it), competence is defined by the constructor. A grammatical Lojban sentence is what we say it is, where "what we say" is defined by the baselined vocabulary lists and machine grammar. The reference for syntactic correctness is a parsing program, and when a Loj- banist utters something the program can't parse, we say that he has made an "error".

85. dan: (responding to 84.) Once again, completely arbitrary. In English, or any other natural language, grammaticalness is also defined by what we can say and understand. "I ain't got none" is perfectly grammatical, because people use and understand it all the time. Only English teachers and guys like John Simon sit around and contemplate (by their own arbitrary standards) whether or not it's okay to split infinitives and use "hopefully" right. The rest of us just do it.

86. cowan: (responding to 85.) Correct, and therefore for a natural language like English, the only way to determine the grammar is by {in,intro}spection. But this has nothing to do with the grammar being in transformational form, i.e. a set of PS rules generating a deep structure with a set of T rules generating the surface structure from them. Such a grammar has not been fully worked out for Lojban, but is clearly not impossible in principle. It also happens to be the case that PS rules are sufficient to generate the whole of the language's surface structure all by themselves (probably not true of English), although the PS-only version of the grammar which we have now baselined does not explain semantic equivalences of different structures.

87. cowan: (continuation of 84.) But this will not always be so. When the language is fully defined and baselined, it will be "launched" and the normal processes of linguistic change will be allowed to operate. We expect that some grammatical forms, vocabulary items, etc. will be "pruned" because nobody uses them. They will remain in the formal language definition, available to all speakers in the same sort of way that archaic grammar or vocabulary forms are available to speakers of natural languages: viz. if they take the trouble to look them up. At that time it will be appropriate to consult human speakers (and AI programs, if any) to investigate correct linguistic behavior a posteriori.

88. dan: (responding to 87.) Org! What a mess! "Correct" linguistic behavior? Lojban will be a linguistic battlefield with prescriptivists running around telling people that they can't say such-and-such a sentence, because it can't be parsed by Lojban's computationally sound grammar (verified by a genuine computer!).

89. cowan: (responding to 88.) Don't be silly. Of course Lojbanists can do that if they want to, just as speakers of English and other languages can if they want to. Again, you are ignoring the difference between a language that is born a priori and one that isn't. After the language is delivered from the womb, anything can and quite probably will happen in the way of changes, which will not be dictated from above.

90. lojbab: (responding to 85.) Not true for English, really, nor for all natural languages. English is of course not even a single language in the sense that there are many dialects spoken around the world [not all 100% mutually understandable]. Many of these do not use constructs found in the 'standard language', even though they are obviously understood by their listeners. But how could we say this if we didn't have a concept of what the 'standard language' is, which is distinct from what we say and understand. (Of course, the definition of standard language varies from country to country, too. British speakers would even less accept some of Dan's Americanisms, and in some cases might misunderstand them. (Actually, there is some variation among 'standard Englishes', as well, as evidenced by differences in the various published style manuals.))

In addition, each language has registers, in some of which certain constructs may be permitted, but which in others are unacceptable. Try using "I ain't got none." in a journal paper. In other languages, such as Japanese, registers are so structured and formalized as to almost make for independent languages. Understanding is not a sufficient criteria for grammaticalness..

91. dan: (responding to 90.) This is where I disagree most strongly. To my mind, grammaticalness. is determined solely by whether a member of a speech community finds a given utterance acceptable. Members of my speech community will, if they put their biases aside, admit that "I ain't got none" is a perfectly acceptable sentence.

92. cowan: (responding to 91.) Northrop Frye tells a story about going to a hardware store and asking for something or other, and being told "We haven't got any". The speaker then glanced at Frye and added, "We haven't got none." This remark, says Frye, has what literary critics call texture: it means 1) we haven't got any, and 2) you look to me like a schoolteacher, and nobody's going to catch me talking like one of those.

The "bias" in question is part of an English-speaker's competence, which is not limited to separating the intelligible from the unintelligible, but also can separate what kinds of grammatical constructions may be used by what speakers in what situations. *"Lazy the jumps fox quick dog brown over the" is ungrammatical in all situations. *"Me see she" is probably also ungrammatical in all situations, although perfectly intelligible. *"Mama like pretty spoon" is good toddler-English but unacceptable adult-English. *"I ain't got none" is ungrammatical in some dialects (mine, for example) and entirely grammatical in others. *"For all x, for some y, such that x is a man, such that y is a fish, x loves y" is grammatical to me, but many native speakers would reject it as almost as unintelligible as my first example. I have asterisked all of these examples as ungrammatical for some speakers in some situations.

93. lojbab: (continuation of 90.) And of course, for many nations there are academies that dictate the standard language for that nation (I use nations instead of languages since, for example, Brazil has an academy separate from that of Portugal, although both work together at times.) English has no academy, but this is an exception. Therefore we end up with individuals setting themselves up as a self-appointed 'academy'.

94. dan: (responding to 93.) Thank God we don't have such academies. Take a look at how much attention is paid to such academies too. French speakers are constantly being advised to avoid English borrowings like "Picque-Nique" and "Le Weekend" or "Fair du ski", but they use them constantly and of course they should be allowed to if they want to.

95. cowan: (responding to 94.) Discussions of "allowing people to do things" are political, not linguistic. Linguistics as such is silent on the subject of what people "should" do, permit, or forbid.

"Does a rock roll down hill because it wants to or because it has to?" An animist would plump for the former reply; most educated Westerners, probably the latter. But a pure operational scientist would reply "Neither. Rocks simply do roll down hill, that's all."

96. lojbab: (continuation of 90.) This does not make 'academies', or language prescription 'wrong'. Dan's libertarian view of language is understandable given his American and English language cultural values. In addition, there is a difference between the prescriptive/descriptive debate from the point of view of linguists as opposed to that of regular speakers. Most people, for example, expect a dictionary to be prescrip- tive, even thought the linguists who write them disagree.

97. dan: (responding to 96.) I prefer "anarchistic" to "libertarian" for personal reasons :-)

98. lojbab: (continuation of 90.) Lojban has a valid reason (unambiguity) to prescribe its standard form. If Dan chooses to learn Lojban, and then chooses to deviate from those standard forms, he may be expanding the language. Of course, he also may have trouble getting his computer to understand him. Since ideally Lojban's target 'speaker' population may include computers, failure to express himself so that the computer understands him (unambiguously) means Dan is speaking ungrammatically even by his own definition.

99. dan: (responding to 98.) Whaaaat? The goal of Natural Language Understanding should be for the system to understand human languages, not for human speakers to alter their speech so that a computer can understand it. Since we've already established that Lojban isn't unambiguous, any Lojban NLP system is already going to be having a hissy fit over plastic cats.

100. cowan: (responding to 99.) Of course. But such a Lojban NLP can 1) recognize unambiguously that it has detected an ambiguity, 2) ask for help, and 3) get an unambiguous response. If a Lojban computer sees "slasi mlatu" in its input, it can ask "lu slasi mlatu li'u ta'unai pei", literally "quote plastic cat unquote expand- the-metaphor how?" and expect a response such as "lo mlatu poi ke'a cidja lo slasi", literally "a cat such-that it eats plastic", or else "lo mlatu poi zo'e zbasu ke'a lo slasi", literally "a cat such-that something makes it from plastic". And other responses are of course also possible.

101. dan: (continuation of 99.) Besides, many prescriptivists have used the same arguments against various "slang" forms. The argument against "double negatives" is that they are "illogical". The fact that no one seems to have a bit of trouble understanding them doesn't matter I suppose.

102. lojbab: (continuation of 90.) Some other 'natural languages' are indeed defined exactly as Lojban is, by an a priori 'committee' that selected the valid forms. Norse, Modern Hebrew, and several African languages were defined by some nationalists taking features from other languages used by the target population (and in the case of Hebrew, from incomplete knowledge of a dead language), and arbitrary features sometimes where the several languages collided. These all became living natural languages. Why can't Lojban, which is merely doing the same on a grander scale?

103. dan: (responding to 102.) I would imagine that all of them underwent creolization, which seems to be nature's way of smoothing things out, linguistically. If Lojban develops a native speech community, then it will undoubtedly do the same, probably in all of the worst sorts of ways (the moral equivalent of "I ain't got none" in Lojban) and Lojban will be yet another zany, irregular, ambiguous, beautiful language. In other words, what's the point?

104. cowan: (responding to 103.) Well, perhaps you are right. Then we'll have learned something. And perhaps you are wrong. And then we'll have learned something else. That's what makes this experimental linguistics.

105. cowan: (continuation of 87.) There will also be growth in the language: technical terms in all fields will be borrowed and Lojbanized as needed; new compounds will be freely created, and it is even possible that new grammatical constructions will be built by usage, although we have really tried to be quite comprehensive in this domain.

I don't understand what the stuff about transformational grammar vs. any other kind has to do with this issue. A transformational grammar is simply certain kind of formal description. Doubtless many natural languages exist of which no transformational grammar has ever been given: do TG [transformational grammar - a linguistics theory] advocates doubt that such grammars are possible a priori?

106. dan: (responding to 105.) TG is a formal description that requires native speakers to confirm. Even you have admitted that there are no native speakers of the language. How can there be a transformational account of a language without native speakers? Yet Bob LeChevalier told me point blank that such a transformational account did exist.

107. cowan: (responding to 106.) I believe what Bob meant to convey was that an investigation had been made to see whether the semantic equivalence of certain Lojban constructions could be represented by T rules which would transform certain syntax trees into other trees in a meaning-preserving way. Indeed, this can be done, although it has not been done for every detail of the language.

Again, I see no difference between TG formal descriptions and others in this respect. Every formal description of a natural language requires speakers of that language to confirm or disconfirm it, but a constructed language is launched with an a priori formal description from which (or from simplified/clarified forms of which) new speakers learn.

Think of Lojban as being spoken by people who live so far away that we can't ever go there to talk with them, but they have sent us some of their Lojban as a Second Language materials used for instructing their neighbors in their language. Magically, these materials have been translated into English. Some of us now learn this language and begin to speak it. Our children hear us speaking it and either learn it natively (i.e. as other languages are learned) or else they don't. Either way, a datum for experimental linguistics. A board of psychologists then administers some tests to us and our children to see if either population thinks differently (in some sense) from a matched control group. Another datum for experimental linguistics.

Many generations pass and the language undoubtedly changes. All this history is forgotten. A Linguist (capital L) comes on the scene and decides to study this language called Lojban; perhaps he is himself a native speaker. He records, using whatever linguistic theory is current at that time, a model of the grammar (a posteriori) of the language as it is spoken then. An archaeologist digs up a copy of the original Lojban textbook, machine grammar, etc., and historical linguistics goes to work reconstructing the way the language has changed.

Why not?

108. rjohnson: (responding to 106.) Dan, you're conflating the formal (mathematical) and the psychological issues here. A transformational grammar is simply a class of formal device for characterizing (generating) sentences. it has nothing to do with competence. You could (and do) have transformational grammars for characterizing computer languages, strings of arbitrary symbols, etc. "Transformational" belongs in the same paradigm as "phrase structure", "finite state", "indexed" and so on; these are classes of grammars, not empirical theories.

109. dan: (responding to 108.) I suppose you're right again, although perhaps my studies in Montague Grammar have made me lose sight of psychological vs. mathematical distinctions :-) Seriously though, one does rely on grammaticalness. judgements when trying to determine if a certain movement is viable: for example in the case of "wanna" contraction:

1 a. Which movie(t) do you want to see? (t) 
  b. Which movie do you wanna see?
2 a. Which team(t) do you want (t) to win? 
  b. *Which team do you wanna win?

The presence of the trace in (2) between "to" and "want" blocks "wanna" contraction.

110. rjohnson: (continuation of 108.) The (now moribund) theory of Transformational Grammar, on the other hand, is a set of claims about linguistic competence, largely abandoned by generativists in favor of GB [this, as well as other jargon terms in this paragraph, is a linguistic theory of grammar] and other systems. Among these claims is the idea that the basic data are the grammaticalness. judgements of native speakers. But this has nothing to do with the formal notion of transformations, and can be applied in LFG, GPSG, dependency, or just about any other formal framework as well. The original poster [cowan], quite properly, kept the two levels separate.

111. dan: (responding to 110.) Well you're probably right again. I'm not a professional linguist yet - only a Cognitive Science type.

112. rjohnson: (continuation of 110, also responding to 46.) Of course you [assume UG]. You're an MIT student. For most of the rest of the world, however, the jury is still out, and it's a mistake to assume what you're trying to prove.

113. dan: (responding to 112.) I'm not actually, I just post from here :-( I don't want to misrepresent myself as an MIT linguist. I studied cognitive science as an undergrad at Hampshire College, with a strong bias towards linguistics. As you can see, I play fast and loose with some of the terminology.

As for assuming what we're trying to prove, isn't that the crux of this argument? Most Chomskian linguists assume UG, and most Lojbanists assume Sapir/Whorf. In the words of The Brady Bunch "I guess we've all learned a valuable lesson".

114. kimba: (responding to 113.) The point was supposed to be, if you are slamming someone else's assumptions, the least you can do is write your own in black ink in a clear and legible hand, rather than saying (effectively) "this is inconsistent with UG and therefore wrong". As I ought, if I were actually saying anything:-) I find neither [UG nor SWH] particularly convincing or illuminating.

115. lojbab: (responding to 106.) The claim I made is that John Parks-Clifford, a linguist involved with Loglan since 1975, told me that he investigated 1970's Loglan using TG techniques during the 70's and was able to demonstrate to his own satisfaction that all features of Loglan were amenable to TG analysis, and that he found no 'unusual' transforms. More recently, a student in Cleveland has been attempting to develop a more formal TG description of the language. This will undoubtedly take a while, but he re- ported to me earlier this year that not only had he found nothing unusual, he had identified some elegant features of the language using TG techniques. The features he reported are indeed consistent with the language definition, and in- cluded aspects that the student had not been taught (i.e. that we had not put into any published documents that the student had received.

116. dan (conclusion of 1., from 63.): Ultimately, the enterprise of Lojban is at best an intellectual puzzle, and perhaps on this level, it is interesting. To learn a "language" (perhaps "code" would be better) like Lojban, based on principles of logic can be seen as the equivalent of a Pig-Latin for intellectuals and engineers.


Subject: Lojban: is it naive?

Participants:
[email protected] (John Cowan)
[email protected] (David A. Johns)

1. [The following exchange between cowan and daj began with a one-liner from daj that Lojban was "naive". cowan wrote back privately to ask "Why do you say that?"]

2. daj: Well, the three things that jump out at me right away are: (1) You can't design a culture-free language. Simply the choice of categories to represent in the language (tense, aspect, definite- indefinite, etc.) are culture-bound. In addition, there's a lot of talk in that description about using metaphor to extend the bare bones of the language. Can there be anything more culture-bound than metaphor (not the mechanism, but the choices of images)?

3. cowan: (responding to 2.) Absolutely correct. Lojban is not a culture-free language; every language creates its own culture if the SWH is correct, and we assume it correct (its falsity is the null hypothesis) for purposes of the Lojban experiment. Assuming SWH, then lei lojbo 'the mass of those pertaining to Lojban' will create their own culture, with its own metaphors and characteristic idioms.

4. daj: (responding to 3.) Then what's the point of the language? All you would end up with is a bunch of creolized Lojban daughter languages, wouldn't you?

5. cowan: (responding to 4.) We hope not. Of course in the very long term that can happen to any language: Latin split into lots of daughters, some of which are more or less heavily influenced by other languages (Rumanian being the prime example). The idea is that Lojban ways of thought (assuming there are such things) will influence the creation of Lojbanic culture.

6. cowan: (continuation of 3.) Lojban deals with the category problem (which we refer to as the "metaphysical assumptions" problem) by minimizing required categories.

Tense, aspect, and definiteness are optional categories of discourse in the language, but can be represented when needed. We can also represent things like the observa- tional status of assertions, the emotional attitude which goes with them (there is an entire set of paralinguistic grunts for expressing emotions), and so on.

7. daj: (responding to 6.) Since every known language (as far as I know) has a set of required categories, they must fulfill some function. Again, real speakers would make the categories compulsory and create something different from the original design.

8. cowan: (responding to 7.) Maybe, maybe not. Since the non-required categories are expressed by marked forms (using the particles), sentences that don't express categories are always possible. Again, they might come to seem archaic or childish, but that's a second-order effect. When a 2-year-old says "Dog!" we usually consider that a bit deviant, but the Lojban literal translation "gerku" is fully grammatical Lojban - a predicate with all arguments elliptically omitted.

9. daj: (continuation of 7.) Another point. A few weeks ago you posted a list of Lojban pronouns. It struck me then that this paradigm was probably too rich for human language. This is just a gut feeling, but it seems to me that in real languages the number of elements in a con- trastive set is pretty severely limited.

10. cowan: (responding to 9.) Depends on what you mean by "contrastive". The 43 Lojban pronouns are indeed contrastive in the sense of being interchangeable in the grammar, but they aren't semantically interchangeable. They fall into several categories: personal, bound-vari- able, free-variable, question, relativized argument, reflexive, demonstrative, pro-utterance, pro-argument, and indefinite. Within each category there are only a few pronouns (or "anaphora" more technically - "ba'ivla" in Lojban). Grammatically, "do" and "dei" are interchangeable, but no one will confuse "you" (the listener) with "this utterance I am now uttering"!

11. daj: (continuation of 7., from 9.) I can see that it would be possible in some cases to have people speaking different dialects of the same language, where each dialect over-specified some categories from the point of view of other dialects. After all, we don't really have much trouble understanding Chinese speakers of English who simply eliminate the verb tense system and replace it with adverbs. But I don't think this would work with the pronouns, since a listener wouldn't know what any given pronoun meant without knowing the entire set.

12. cowan: (responding to 11.) Correct. On the other hand, it may be that lots of the ba'ivla don't come up much. For example "da'e" meaning "a far future utterance" probably won't be used very often, and someone who doesn't understand it or even recognize it may still be quite a fluent speaker. One can speak English fluently without knowing "thou", for example, although certainly it is a personal pronoun contrasting with "I" and "you" and the rest. The occasions for its use (in Modern English) just aren't that common.

13. daj: (continuation of 2.) (2) If you're going to design a language that people are actually going to speak, you're going to have to deal with whatever it is that leads human languages to be the way they are. One obvious universal of real language is a floating equilibrium between ambiguity and redundancy. If you want to design a language without ambiguity, you'll have to figure out what role ambiguity plays and compensate for the loss. There are many other characteristics like this, such as why semantically external predicates like negation and tense tend to become reduced and attached to internal pieces of a sentence, etc.

14. cowan: (responding to 13.) Lojban is not free of ambiguity, only of phonological and syntactic ambiguity.

15. daj: (responding to 2.) First phonological ambiguity. In your original posting you gave examples which seemed to indicate that Lojban words were polysyllabic, with syllable-initial stress. I assume that your claim that analysis of the input stream into words was unambiguous has to depend on that stress placement - in other words, a word begins where a stress occurs and includes all following unstressed syllables. But in natural languages, there are unstressed words - clitics - plus other uses of stress for phrase boundary identification, discourse function, etc. How are you going to prevent phonological ambiguity from creeping into Lojban?

16. cowan: (responding to 15.) I must have misled you. Lojban stress is as follows: stress on content words ("brivla") is penultimate. All root brivla are two- syllabled, so stress appears to be initial.

Structure words ("cmavo") are one or two syllables and may be stressed freely. A structure word with final stress immediately followed by a brivla must have a separating pause (which can be a full pause or just a glottal stop). Thus in "le bridi", "bridi" has penultimate stress; if "le" is unstressed it can be proclitic [sounded together with the following word], whereas if it is stressed a pause is required to forbid the reading "lebri di".

Names have free stress, which must be indicated by capitalization in writing when it is not penultimate. Names are always followed by pause, and must be preceded by either pause or one of the cmavo "la", "lai", "la'i", or "doi" (the first three are articles, the last a vocative marker). These same cmavo may not be embedded in names, so "*doil" for "Doyle" is not a valid Lojban name; it would have to be "do'il", roughly "Dough-heel". (The Lojban ' character represents IPA [h], or more accurately a voiceless vowel glide.)

17. daj: (continuation of 15.) And then there's syntactic ambiguity. Math/logic notation has an extremely powerful device for preventing ambiguity - parentheses. With parentheses you can resolve "old men and women" into either "((old men) and (women))" or "(old (men and women))." It's hard to imagine anything like this in natural language that could operate at more than one or two levels of embedding. Even with all kinds of contrastive stress and artificial intonation breaks we can't read even slightly complicated math formulas so that they can be written down correctly.

18. cowan: (responding to 17.) Lojban has lots of kinds of parentheses: "ke" and "ke'e" for Boolean connective groupings, "vei" and "ve'o" for strictly numerical/mathematical parentheses, "to" and "toi" for discursive parentheses (like these). These can be stacked up as required. Of course, if things get too complicated people may not be able to understand what is said, but En- glish has that problem as well. "The cheese that the mouse that the man that the woman married chased ate rotted" is grammatical, but not intelligible due to stack overflow in the listener. But the words do exist as a regular part of the language: if the worst comes to the worst, the listener could write down what is said verbatim, pass it through a machine parser, and figure out exactly what is bracketed with what. This ability could be quite useful for things like drafting regulations, which are notoriously ridden with unintentional ambiguity: having a parser looking over your shoulder as you write such a thing would help you in seeing ways in which your listener/reader could get confused, and clarifying them.

19. daj: (continuation from 15., from 17.) Also, once you allow idiomatization into the language, you're going to have syntactic reanalysis, which will produce syntactic ambiguity. For instance, every language has some way of embedding one sentence inside another, and as far as I know, they all have ways of reducing the information in the embedded sentence. For instance, take a structure like (I like (I swim)), which can be realized as either "I like swimming" or "I like to swim." It's pretty clear that the action indicated by "swim" is subordinate to the main verb "like." On the other hand, I don't think anyone would analyze "I am swimming" as (I am (I swim)). Here we think of "am" as being a marker on the main verb, so that the structure is [something like] (I (am swim)). But both structures are realized in actual speech as V-V sequences, and there are many such sequences that are hard to classify: "am to," "am going to," "am supposed to," etc. This sort of reanalysis is extremely common and probably unavoidable in any real language.

20. cowan: (responding to 19.) I'm not sure how to comment on this. However, I guess the best point I can make is that in Lojban, the "surface structure" is quite close to the "deep structure". We simply do not have things like embedding and tense marking being realized with the same forms.

(I like (I swim)) comes out "mi nelci le nu mi limna" which is "I like the event-of I swim". (I (am swim)) comes out "mi ca limna" which is "I now swim". The first form could be collapsed into "mi limna nelci" = "I swimly like", which is one of the forms which is explicitly marked as semantically ambiguous: the exact way in which the liking is a kind of swimming is not indicated. This process of making a "tanru" (Lojban for "open compound") is a kind of Lojban transformation, and the current grammar does not ex- press it - it is a grammar of surface structure alone, but a surface structure that is more like the deep structure of other languages. This is the kind of embedding we call "abstraction": there are also other embeddings, involving description, relativization, metalinguistic comments, etc.

21. cowan: (continuation of 14.) Metaphors (which, as you say, are fundamental - they are Mandarin-type metaphors and really correspond more to nominal compounds in English) are semantically ambiguous, and there is also ambiguity in names and through the extensive use of ellipsis and defaults: the full translation of a simple utterance like mi klama is 'I/we go to somewhere, from somewhere, via some route, by some means'.

22. daj: (responding to 21.) But as soon as you allow these metaphors, you've compromised universal comprehensibility, which I assume is one purpose of the language. Do you think a Mongol tribesman would understand "heart ache," "dog days," etc., or indeed would he have any way of knowing that "back stabber" wasn't to be taken literally?

23. cowan: (responding to 22.) There is a subtle point here. There is a marker for "figurative speech" which would be used on "back stabber" and would signal "There is a culturally dependent construction here!" The intent is not that everything is instantly and perfectly comprehensi- ble to someone who knows only the root words, but rather that non-root words are built up creatively from the roots. Thus "heart pain" would refer to the literal heart and literal pain; what would be ambiguous would be the exact connection between these two. Is the pain in the heart, because of the heart, or what? But "heart pain" would not be a valid tanru for "emotional pain", absent the figurative speech marker. It is "malglico" (#*[email protected] English).

24. daj: (continuation of 22.) In natural language words exist in paradigmatic sets: "No contrast, no content." The meaning of "mi klama" would be determined in any single dialect by the categories that had become compulsory in that dialect. In other words, "I go" does not mean the same thing as German "ich gehe," because in English it contrasts with "I am going," while in German there is no such tense.

25. cowan: (responding to 24.) Each root word in Lojban expresses an N-place predicate, and its meaning is defined by the significance of the N places. Thus "klama" is a 5- place predicate meaning "A goes to B from C via route D by means E". The Lojban design maintains that these five places are an essential part of the meaning of "klama", and that any state of affairs not involving an agent, a destination, an origin, a route, and a means is not validly captured by the word "klama". Most roots have 1, 2, or 3 places, and 5 is the maximum. Additional places (such as the time, the location, the purpose, etc.) can be expressed as well by an extensible set of tags, but they are not considered essential to meaning. In the case of "klama" there is no word which precisely "contrasts" with it in the sense of having exactly the same five places, although "benji" (A transfers B to C from D via E) and "muvdu" (A moves B from C to D via E) come close - the difference is that "muvdu" and "klama" involve physical objects, whereas "benji" doesn't necessarily. But all Lojban predicates with the same number of places contrast in that they are freely substitutable, although perhaps nonsense-producing.

26. cowan: (continuation of 14., from 21.) Negation, tense, etc. can be expressed either externally through the semantics or internally through the grammar. Negation in particular has gotten a great deal of attention: we split it into contradictory negation (with na or naku), contrary/ polar/scalar negation (with a variety of particles for simple contrary, polar opposite, and "scale neutral"), and metalinguistic negation (with na'i).

27. daj: (responding to 26.) Again, I think the evidence from natural language suggests that people won't tolerate very much paradigmatic indeterminacy. They will boil down all these choices to a few that seem particularly important to them.

28. daj: (continuation of 2., from 13.) (3) You can't design a language "not based on any existing languages." You might be able to choose totally arbitrary vocabulary, since vocabulary IS arbitrary, but interestingly enough, Lojban doesn't do that (words are based on U. N. languages as I remember). But in syntax the choices are limited, and Lojban seems to opt for a word-order language rather than a morphology language like Russian. Lojban is thereby biased toward languages that use word order to indicate structural relationships.

29. cowan: (responding to 28.) You remember correctly. The relevant languages are Mandarin, English, Russian, Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic, weighted according to the numbers of speakers, and using a phoneme-matching algorithm to assign words with the highest figures of merit relative to the six languages. This mechanism is a "marketing device" to make the vocabulary easier to learn for speakers of any of those languages, especially Mandarin and English.

Word order plays a fairly limited role in determining meaning: it determines which arguments of predicates are which, but can be overridden. Lojban is really a particle language: almost everything about the grammar is determined by which particles are used and where.

30. daj: (responding to 29.) My mistake. But how do you come up with a culture-free list of particles?

31. cowan: (responding to 30.) Again, we can't exactly. We attempt to be superinclusive, as I said above. The list of particles is large (~550) and if anybody comes up with a construct which cannot be handled by existing ones, we add one. Hopefully this process is now complete. The last few things to come in included the observationals (which say "how the speaker knows", from Amerind languages), scalar negation, and the tense system, which is quite comprehensive (it covers space location and aspect as well as time). A few more may still need to be added to cover the needs of mathematics.

32. daj: (continuation of 2., from 28.) I could go on. One obvious area is how Lojban indicates discourse functions like old and new information components of a sentence (or clause), whether it is iconic in tense sequences, whether it prefers coordination or subordination, etc., etc. All these factors are going to make it look like particular languages. All of them are going to have to be specified if the language isn't going to break up into dialects based on the way speakers of other languages implement unspecified features in their own speech.

33. cowan: (responding to 32.) Discourse functions are handled by a large set of discursives, each of which has a polar opposite: things like specifically/generally, hypothetically/actually, metaphorically/explicitly, etc.

34. daj: (responding to 33.) These seem more pragmatic than discourse, but I admit the boundaries are fuzzy, and I may be using non-standard divisions. What I had in mind was the universally marked distinction between information that's already part of the conversation and information being introduced for the first time (in this conversation). English does it with articles (the/a) and intonation, Russian and Chinese do it with word order, Japanese does it with particles, etc., etc.

35. cowan: (responding to 34.) The nearest Lojban equivalent to the "the/a" distinction is the "le/lo" distinction. "le finpe" means "the fish, the thing(s) I describe as (a) fish". It may be a whale, or a mermaid, or indeed my cat Freddy: as long as the listener understands what is meant, "le finpe" is correct; "le" is non-veridi- cal.

"Lo finpe" on the other hand means "fish, a fish, some fish, the thing(s) that really is-a (are) fish". "Lo" is veridical and makes a claim; sentences containing "lo" are valid only if the thing is as described (they may be vacu- ously true otherwise, but probably a human listener would consider them ill-formed semantically).

36. cowan: (responding to 32.) I don't understand "iconic in tense sequences." Could you explain further?

37. daj: (responding to 36.) In many languages (Chinese is one, I believe) you can say "After I went home I went to bed" or "I went home before I went to bed," but you can't say "Before I went to bed I went home" or "I went to bed after I went home." Clause sequence has to match time se- quence. I think it's even impossible in Chinese to say "I'm staying home because I've got a cold," since the presupposed cause has to precede the consequent. Many other languages, of course, have no such restriction.

38. cowan: (responding to 37.) Lojban has no such restriction. Of course, Chinese-native Lojbanists might be unlikely to construct Lojban sentences which violate this restriction, but they should be able to understand them passively if they are fluent in the language.

39. cowan: (responding to 32.) Coordination and subordination are both fully supported. Lojban features redundant structures: there are often many ways to say "the same thing" semantically. Lojban's specified grammar is not a transformational one, but that is not to say that a transformational grammar cannot exist or is trivial. Lojban has a "deep structure" even though we didn't design it to! Usage will decide, for example, whether the subordinating or coordinating versions of "A is true because B is true" will become dominant.

40. daj: (responding to 39.) But won't different versions become dominant in different areas? And if so, won't that defeat the purpose of Lojban?

41. cowan: (responding to 40.) Remember that the purposes of Lojban are threefold: 1) experimental investigation of the SWH; 2) communications with computers; 3) international communication. Purposes 2) and 3) are effective if everybody can understand every construct (or almost every construct) even if they do not often use them in their own dialect. Purpose 1) probably cannot be satisfied until some people begin to speak Lojban as native bilinguals. There are native Esperanto speakers, whose parents had no other common language.

Learning Lojban involves finding out about a rich set of structural resources. Some of these will go over automatically because they match your own language. Some will seem strange because they conflict with your language, and you will have trouble with them, but you will use them anyway because they are the easiest, shortest ways of saying what you mean in Lojban. The simple, unmarked forms of Lojban are the ones least like natural languages: the predicate grammar, the contradictory negation, and the logical (Boolean) connectives. The things that are "in there to emulate natural languages" are more heavily marked and so more difficult to exploit.

The best example of this that comes to mind is the form of embedded sentence called abstraction: the (I like (I swim)) above. This is unnatural in English, especially in complex constructions, but is the most painless in Lojban: you wrap an entire predication into "nu"/"kei" brackets (you can omit the "kei" if no ambiguity results) and the result is suitable as an argument for another predication. So you find yourself saying the Lojban for "I like the event of I swim" even though that is not at all natural in English, because Lojban makes it easy. You can ellipsize it to "mi nelci le nu limna", omitting the second "I" and hoping the listener will reconstruct it correctly if you want, but you know that this is ambiguous (or more accurately, vague) because of the omitted place in the embedded predication. The listener is also aware of this vagueness, and can ask "ma limna" (Who swims?) to get clarification.

42. cowan: (responding to 32.) [Dialectization] is certainly a known problem. All of us speak more or less pidginized versions of Lojban at best: we tend to exploit features that have parallels in English or our own languages. But the fact that the language is not very "large" means that it is possible to exploit the other re- sources after a modest amount of learning and so prevent Lojban from becoming an English-based code. The Lojban metaphor malglico 'that #*%^ English' is applied to the tendency to copy English-based constructions into Lojban.

43. daj: (responding to 42.) As long as it remains a pidgin language, there should be no problem. But your original posting indicated that speakers should be able to extend the language on their own. They can extend the vocabulary by combining the 1300 (?) basic words, and they can extend the expressive power of the language by improvising on the rather unspecialized grammatical structure. But here is where I think things will necessarily go awry. Speakers who extend Lojban on their own will do it in accordance with their own already established linguistic habits, and they will categorize their vocabulary according to their semantic habits (this is only a weak SWH, by the way). To the extent that Lojban becomes a real vehicle for communication, it will take on the characteristics of existing natural languages. It may be fun to see to what extent this can be resisted, but I really think it's hopeless to think that it can be prevented altogether.

44. cowan: (responding to 43.) I agree about "prevented altogether". We do try to resist, though, sometimes by bending over backwards to avoid "malglico". Consider the following translation of Simonides' epigram at Thermopylae: "ko cusku fi le me la lakedaimon. doi klama do'u fe le nu mi nu tinbe le ri flalu kei morsi". Literally this is: "(Imperative!) You express to what-I-describe-as pertaining to Lakedaimon, O comer/goer, the event-of (we are (the event-of (something) obeys the laws of the-last-mentioned) kind-of dead)."

I think you will admit that this slop is not English, and that the grammar underlying this Lojban utterance is sui generis and not something derived from English in the manner of a code. (I know no Greek, by the way, so my translation is from English not from Greek.)

45. daj: (continuation of 43.) The alternative, of course, would be to extend the language by design. But this would produce either a language that looked like some other human language (and therefore unlike most human languages) or a "PL/1" language, so rich in devices that subsets would develop, fragmenting the language into dialects.

46. cowan: (responding to 45.) Indeed, Lojban is comparable to PL/I or Ada in complexity. But its scope is much larger than any programming language's. If English were to be put in purely phrase-structure form, the result would be incomprehensibly large (to say nothing of desperately ambiguous). I don't believe that the entire repertoire of Lojban devices is beyond human learning, although some of the recursive complexities made possible may be beyond human understanding (as is the case in English also).

47. cowan: (continuation of 42.) In translating a story involving dialogue, for example, I found it necessary to make frequent use of the observational particles of the language, which certainly had no counterpart in the English version. These mean things like 'I hear', 'I observe', 'I deduce', 'I know by cultural means', etc. Likewise, in delivering the lines realistically, it was necessary to supply paralinguistic attitudinal indicators, as Lojban makes no use of tones of voice (part of its phonological unambiguity) that an English-speaker would surely use.

48. daj: (responding to 47.) Why? Have these categories become compulsory in your dialect? :)

49. cowan: (responding to 48.) Of course not! But to make the meaning of the story clear to those who didn't belong to my culture, the observationals were indispensable. We know that when somebody says "It must be the wind" in reference to a sound, this is a conclusion from incomplete evidence: but a Mongol tribesman might not. Hence the observational helps to make the cross-cultural meaning clear. For communication among, say, my own family (if they spoke Lojban), I would probably not need such a thing.

50. daj: (continuation of 2., from 28.) Frankly, I don't think the designers of Lojban knew much about language.

51. cowan: (responding to 50.) Guilty, especially in the beginning. But we've learned a lot, even if we take a non- standard slant on some things. Lojban/Loglan has a "historical" dimension as well, even if the history is only some 35 years old, and there are things in the language that probably would be removed now or changed if an a priori redesign were done.

Lojban is not designed to be a "universal notation", just a language. Although it shares many features with other languages, it is clearly not a dialect or a code or a jargon. It has its own feature set and its own characteristic way of exploiting the set: the set is large, but the language is still small because of its high degree of regularity.

Whether it is possible to internalize the language, in the sense of gaining Chomsky-competence, is still an open issue. I believe it is possible: I am beginning to think in the language's terms now, and so are several other ad- vanced students; some of the paralinguistics are also becoming internalized.

52. daj: (responding to 51.) I have to apologize for my snotty attitude there. You've obviously done more homework than I thought at first.

I still can't help thinking, though, that you're underestimating the incredible complexity of human language, both in its use and in its potential for change. I doubt that you will be able to create a language free of irregularity, ambiguity, etc. On the other hand, you may have a really interesting semi-laboratory experiment in the process of creolization, and that would make the whole thing worthwhile in itself.

53. cowan: (responding to 52.) Well, new purposes always help. These letters are being passed to the president of the Logical Language Group, by the way - I hope you don't mind - for comments.

54. daj: (responding to 53.) I'll try to watch more and snarl less. Thanks for the education.

55. cowan: (responding to 54.) je'e .uicai ("Roger. Happy!!!)").


Subject: Why use Lojban for S/W?


Participants:
[email protected] (Dan Parmenter)
[email protected] (John Cowan)
[email protected] (Rod Johnson)
[email protected] (David M Tate)
[email protected] (Bob LeChevalier)

1. dan: S/W is pretty much disavowed by the linguistic orthodoxy in this country. I'm told that anthropologists are still interested in it, but I don't know enough about anthropology to say.

2. rjohnson: (responding to 1.) There is no linguistic orthodoxy in this country (and why do national boundaries enter into this question anyway? There is certainly no linguistic orthodoxy in the world). Linguists are a pretty fractious bunch. There may be a generative orthodoxy (though I doubt it), but they don't speak for me.

3. dan: (responding to 2.) When was the last time you saw an article in any of the journals on Sapir-Whorf?

4. rjohnson: (responding to 3.) Well, I suppose it depends on which journals you look at. I've seen articles fairly recently that are "Whorfian" in some sense here and there. It's certainly not a major topic in the field at present, but there are any number of reasons that could be, includ- ing:

  • it's held to be clearly true;
  • it's held to be clearly false;
  • other ideas are exciting people nowadays;
  • people are stumped as to how to approach it.

My guess is that it's all of the above, variously.

5. dan: (continuation of 3.) The introductory textbooks on linguistics that I've looked at seem to cover the topic [of S/W] briefly, if at all, and then as a discredited hypothesis.

6. rjohnson: (responding to 5.) In the totally unscientific sample of textbooks on my desk, Lyons has a fairly sympathetic discussion of it; Finegan and Besnier have only a page or so, mostly sympathetic but critical; Eysenck's cognitive psych textbook gives it an extended but guarded treatment; Bolinger gives it a mild thumbs down ("exaggerated") but is essentially in sympathy with some form of the idea; and Akmajian et al. don't mention it anywhere I can find. Everyone that mentions it finds it attractive but in need of revision or special understanding. Finegan and Besnier, for instance, say: "Today few scholars take the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis lit- erally. Many linguists take the position that language may have some influence on thought but thought may also influence the structure of language" etc. If we strip away the mealymouthedness (which I've spared you most of), they seem to be saying that the influence goes both ways, a position that neither Sapir nor Whorf would have any objection to.

7. dan: (continuation of 3., from 5.) This doesn't disprove anything, but it certainly seems to indicate a lack of interest in the subject currently. I didn't mean to imply that all linguists were of one mind, but on this topic, there seems to be a pretty general agreement, in what I've read.

8. rjohnson: (responding to 7.) I'll agree there's not a whole lot of interest among the people who currently dominate the field. This is not to say that those people are committed to a position on either side of the issue - it's just not relevant to their work. "Exotic" languages are no longer the center of interest that they were in the heyday of Sapir and Whorf. That doesn't mean the issue is resolved, though.

9. rjohnson: (continuation of 2.) No matter how you try to slant the issue, the status of the Sapir-Whorf "hypothesis" is still very unclear. (Personally, I don't think it's even a hypothesis; it's a problematic, it's a topos, it's an ideological litmus test.) But in any event, though there may be unanimity on this point in some linguistics departments dominated by Chomskyans, for the rest of us (and that's most of us) the debate is still alive. (No anti-Chomsky animus expressed or implied.)

You don't know enough about linguistics [either]. Anyway, the question of orthodoxy is beside the point. This is not something you vote over. There have been some suggestive studies on both sides; there has been nothing conclusive, and I see little indication that most of the partisans on both sides have really gotten to terms with what the debate is all about. \

10. dan: (responding to 9.) I'm calling it as I've seen it. When I was hyped up on Sapir-Whorf myself a few years ago, I went through any number of texts looking for information on it and came to the conclusion that most linguists that I read seem to disavow it. I guess I read the wrong books. Even the anti-Chomsky linguists didn't seem to have much to say on the matter.

11. rjohnson: (responding to 10.) This isn't some kind of insult: you don't know enough about linguistics to say. There are several reasons for this:

  1. No one does. The field is too big and too heterogeneous, the social networks too fractured, to be able to gauge consensus adequately.
  2. As you just told us, you're not a trained linguist (yet). Pronouncements about what's orthodox are hazardous enough for the most highly trained finger-licker (if you follow the imagery); one's words have a way of coming back and biting one on the ass here.
  3. "... but I don't know enough about anthropology to say." But anthropology, and psycholinguistics, and rhetoric, and such areas, are where a lot of the SW work goes on nowadays. These people aren't disqualified from contributing simply because they don't hold down lines in the budget of a linguistics department.

12. dan: (responding to 9., from 10.) I never said anything about "voting" on anything.

13. rjohnson: (responding to 12.) But isn't that what orthodoxy amounts to? Chomsky was took a few highly unorthodox positions once, and was roundly "outvoted" by the field. That changed. It's arguments that decide these things, and evidence (and funding, and ...), not which way the wind is blowing in any given decade. Orthodoxy is fickle. 20 years ago everyone was into intrinsic rule ordering, squishes and (trans)derivational constraints. No one talks about them now - but the underlying problems are still there waiting to be explored. Likewise the complex of problems and questions people lump together as "the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis".

14. dan: (responding to 9., from 12.) If I'm missing something, please let me know, rather than telling me I don't know what I'm talking about. As it happens, I have tried to learn about s/w and have considered the issue at great length. I admit, that in the course of this thread, I've made some mistakes, but does that qualify me as an ignorant boob? I don't think so.

15. rjohnson: (responding to 14.) Dan, I thought you didn't take this personally! Of course you're not an ignorant boob, not at all.

Still, it would be a lot of fun to handle this this way:

>I admit, that in the course of this thread, I've made some mistakes, but does that qualify me as an ignorant boob?

Sorry - the weak must die. :)

16. dan: (responding to 9., from 12.) In several cases, I've misunderstood what people were saying, and been misunderstood in kind. This happens, but I like to think that I'm relatively informed about linguistics, based on my education and my intent to pursue graduate studies in the field.


[... continuing on the same topic later]

17. dan: [SWH] is something I'm rather interested in (as a curiosity, I used to be utterly convinced by it too), and I'm actually glad the Lojbanists have dredged it up for serious discussion again. I question their methods though, why not do psychological tests on existing languages, rather than trying to come up with a whole new one? Presumably, if S/W is confirmed by the Lojban project, no one would assume that it is only true for Lojban itself. This goes back to my feeling that Lojban is at best, an intellectual puzzle. If you can learn it and gain some degree of fluency in it, well that's fine for some people. Not for me.

18. dtate: (responding to 17.) Hey, we agree! Weird...

S/W is about natural languages, of which we have lots. Presumably, if S/W is true, then it is true now, for the languages currently being used. The only problem might be if all current natural languages are sufficiently similar in their world-views that S/W doesn't kick in. If this is true, then it would constitute (IMHO) a practical refutation of S/W, since S/W was originally motivated by observation of the divergence among current natural languages. There is theoretical interest in knowing if a constructed language like Lojban has a detectable effect on thought patterns, but not nearly as strong as the interest in whether there is a difference between (say) Korean and Japanese thought patterns, or German vs. French, or Sioux vs. Hopi.

I'd go even farther, though, and question what it is that we hope to learn using Lojban that we couldn't learn better (and more easily) using natural languages. There's hardly any chance of Lojban ever becoming a widespread native tongue, so any conclusions we get about people whose primary language is Lojban will include the strong bias of self-selection for Lojban proficiency by the subject or some close relative of the subject...

19. cowan: (responding to 18.) [We hope to learn] the same kinds of things we learn about the mechanics of falling bodies by rolling them down inclined planes rather than dropping them from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

"JCB's [the founder of Loglan] plan was to attempt to build a language tool that would have the major features of natural languages, but would have some strong warping in its structure that was deviant from all other natural lan- guages. This warping would attempt to take normal structures that presumably set limits on thought, and 'push them outward in some predictable dimension'. His language tool would be an extreme case, not a 'typical language' but 'a severely atypical one', in order to enable any Whorfian effects to be more easily seen. He attempted to put 'decisive but non-essential differences' into the language; he still needed the language to be speakable....

"The structural extreme he chose was to model the grammar on the well-understood structures of symbolic logic. There are no natural languages based on a predicate grammar, yet logicians are skilled at analyzing the structural relationships between natural language and formal logic.... The essence of these concepts is that 'it forces on its speakers a reasonably small set of assumptions about the world ... perhaps the smallest possible set'. 'Any speaker, from any culture, should find it possible to express in Loglan what he takes for granted about the world ... without imposing ... or being able to impose these as- sumptions on his auditor'...."

(Outer text by Robert LeChevalier, from Ju'i Lobypli #6. Inner quotations are from James Cooke Brown, Loglan 1, 3rd Edition.)

20. lojbab: (responding to 18.) Psychological and other tests of S/W were performed using natural languages in the 1950's - at least two large studies, though I don't have references handy. They turned up fairly negative results, and this is one reason why S/W went into eclipse. (Other factors included an inability to agree even on what the actual hypothesis was; i.e. how to formulate it, the racial/political issue, attacks on Whorf's scholarly credentials, and the rise of Chomsky's theories which were orthogonal to S/W and soon attracted all the money).

The tests were not conclusive, though. One major problem is that with natural languages, you can't ever be sure that hidden cultural features might obscure the results. There are also more variables to control with natural language speakers. (This is NOT the same as saying natural languages are 'too similar'; merely that we don't know how to test for the differences.)

How does Lojban improve on this? Being better defined as a language than any natural language allows better monitoring of actual usage vs. some theoretical norm. Having a structure drastically different from any natural language should lead to a much larger S/W effect than between two natural languages. Furthermore, if a S/W effect is found, its nature and manifestation will help ex- perimental design for a new test based on natural languages, when we better understand what we're looking for. Being culture-free (at least initially) makes it much easier to filter out cultural effects. Being different from all language families allows better cross-cultural studies. Because there are several identifiable areas of structural difference, there is a greater likelihood of finding effects that may be constrained by the TYPE of structure (S/W may not be general, only specific to certain types of structures).

As to Lojban becoming widely spoken, you have to decide how wide the goal is. Esperanto managed up to a million speakers in 100 years, and the world population and mass media needed for rapid expansion of a language teaching effort should make Lojban's potential expansion rate significantly higher, if people find a reason to learn it. Right now the primary such reason is as a linguistic toy, as Dan accuses, since there is no obvious financial gain. Thus we indeed have considerable self-selection in the community today. This can easily change:

  • development of computer applications could make learning Lojban a necessity external to personal choice in some fields;
  • development of cross-cultural/foreign language education applications could lead to more widespread use of Lojban at a low level by large segments of population. Some of these will pursue more advanced study of Lojban.
  • identifying any preliminary S/W effects that are perceived as beneficial will greatly heighten interest in learning the language among potential beneficiaries.
  • if research using Lojban is funded, some people might actually be paid to learn Lojban as test subjects (and teach it to their children?). These would presumably be chosen to negate self-selection factors, though willingness to accept payment for this sort of thing is itself a kind of selection (all psychological studies of volunteers could be questioned on this basis, but such studies are standard in the field, so presumably there is capability to filter out such bias in the testing methods).

In short, if the language in useful as a tool, it will be used. As the size and diversity of the community grows, self-selection becomes less of a bias factor.

However, self-selection isn't an irremediable bias. Nor is the lack of a large community of speakers. In internal discussions, some Loglan/ Lojban supporters have argued for preliminary S/W testing using second-language adults, notably language inventor J. C. Brown who proposed in his book on the language (Loglan 1, 4th edition) a study where adults of several cultures are all taught Loglan over a summer and tested before and after for changes in 'the way they think'. (I personally think his design to be flawed and too simplistic, but if Lojban's S/W effects are truly dramatic, they could show up in 2nd language fluent speakers. And such appearance would pretty much guarantee that people would find a way to build a testable 'culture' of 1st language speakers, perhaps by raising children bilingually during the 'critical period', or even from birth.)

Incidentally, current thinking in the community is that 'logical' thought or expression is not necessarily the aspect most likely to generate noticeable S/W effects. The removal of grammatical ambiguity from modification (as exemplified by the much-discussed plastic cat food lid) seems to heighten creative exploration of word combination. This comes from self-observation, and is a linguistic toy feature, but could lead to profound changes in problem- solving in a community speaking Lojban, which ought to qualify as a bona-fide S/W effect.

Other areas of possible benefit are (surprisingly in a 'logical' language) emotional expression. Lojban has a fully developed set of metalinguistic and emotional attitude indicators that supplant much of the baggage of aspect and mood found in natural languages, but most clearly separate indicative statements from the emotional communication associated with those statements. This might lead to freer expression and consideration of ideas, since stating an idea can be distinguished from supporting that idea. The set of possible indicators is also large enough to provide specificity and clarity of emotions that is difficult in natural languages. It is easy to imagine enormous changes in communicative activities that involve emotions, and corresponding 'world view' changes as a result. Again, only time will tell.

Time is a significant factor here in evaluating Lojban's relevance to linguistics today. In the next 10 years, there will be ONLY 2nd language adults and perhaps a few children raised by non-fluent adults. For at least a generation after that, immediate self-selection will be a significant potential factor, and Lojban will be at best questionably a 'living language', making its results less than certain.

Still, for linguists TODAY, interest in Lojban can be tied to any of several major channels:

  • possible use of 2nd language speakers to get preliminary ideas on whether S/W is likely;
  • making sure that Lojban's design is as linguistically sound as we can make it given current linguistic knowledge, ensuring that eventual S/W results are meaningful;
  • developing tools and techniques for eventual S/W testing; trying to identify what the effects will be and how they can be detected;
  • actually participating in the language community, using your linguistic skills to help quickly build a set of initial usage patterns based on the unambiguous language (and vocabulary, idiom, etc.) that when passed on to 'native speakers' in the future provides them with a better, more robust, starting point for evolutionary change;
  • developing techniques of teaching the language as a second language, when there is no existing idiom. Related to this is possibly using Lojban's simple structures and culture-free properties to enhance language education.
  • preparing other, non-S/W related research based on Lojban's features and its availability as a experimental linguistics platform or alternatively as a totally self- contained 'model' of a language;
  • using Lojban for other linguistic research that is not as dependent on a 'native' base, including studies of language learning (1st and 2nd), as a medium for culture- free recording of linguistic information in studies of other languages (translating to English may help an English-native reader of your paper get the gist of what a foreign language is saying, but is subject to all the problems of English cultural usage and ambiguity. There are a lot of non-native English readers who may not be aware of those features. (In short, using Lojban as an 'international language of linguistics' much as IPA serves for phonetics).
  • and finally, serving as peer reviewers to make sure that those of us working directly on the project don't get our heads too far into the clouds. This of course requires that you know something of what we're trying to do, which is why we keep bombarding this forum with so many long messages :-)

The following are additions to the bibliography of Sapir- Whorf Hypothesis materials compiled during the discussions on the computer networks.

Here are some references to discussions of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. One is recent; the Fishman article as far as I know has not really been replied to anywhere that I know of. (The first part of the bibliography is courtesy of Alan Munn, University of Maryland, who made these com- ments).

Brown, R. (1957) "Linguistic Determinism and Parts of Speech", Journal of Abnormal Social Psychology 55, 1-5.

Brown, R. and E. Lenneberg (1958) "Studies in Linguistic Relativity", in E. Maccoby, T. H. Newcomb & E. L. Hartley (eds.), Readings in Social Psychology (3rd ed.), New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, pp. 9-18.


In the same volume, "The Function of Language Classification in Behavior", by John B. Carroll and Joseph B. Casagrande, pp. 18-31.

Fishman, J. (1960) "A Systematization of the Whorfian Hypothesis", Behavioral Science 5, pp. 232-239.

Hoijer, H. (1954) Language in Culture (Comparative Studies of Cultures and Civilizations, No. 3; Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association, No. 79), Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kay, P. and W. Kempton (1984) "What is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?", American Anthropologist pp. 86, 65-79.

Whorf, B.L. (1939) "The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language", in B.L. Whorf (1956) The Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

These articles are both for and against SWH; The Brown papers and the Kay/Kempton paper are attempts to test the hypothesis. The Fishman article discusses the results of some experiments and where they leave us with respect to various versions of SW.

Other Sapir-Whorf references:

Alford, Danny K. 1978. "The Demise of the Whorf Hypothesis (A Major Revision in the History of Linguistics)", Proceedings of the 4th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society 4:485-99.

Hymes, Dell, 1968. "Two Types of Linguistic Relativity", in Sociolinguistics: Proceedings of the UCLA Sociolinguistics Conference (1964). Ed. by W. Bright. Janua Linguarum Series Major, 20. Mouton: The Hague. pp. 114-167.

Lucy, John, 1985. "Whorf's View of the Linguistic Mediation of Thought", in E. Mertz and R. J. Parmentier, Semiotic Mediation: Sociocultural and Psychosocial Perspectives, Orlando: Academic Press.

McNeill, David, 1987. "Linguistic Determinism: The Whorfian Hypothesis", Chapter 6 of Psycholinguistics, A New Approach, New York: Harper and Row. pp. 173-209.


Subject: Esperanto and Lojban


Participants:
[email protected] (Neal D. McBurnett)
[email protected] (John Cowan)
[email protected] (David A. Johns)
[email protected] (Eric Pepke)
[email protected] (Loren Petrich)
[email protected] (David M Tate)
[email protected] (Bob LeChevalier)

1. neal: Esperanto is much easier to learn than English or any other ethnic language because it has few irregularities and it has a phonetic writing system. In studies done with English school children it was demonstrated that one year of instruction in Esperanto gave the students the same level of language competence as five years of studying French. Once you learn to conjugate one verb, you know how to conjugate them all!

2. daj: (responding to 1.) I agree 100% that an artificial language is easier to learn as a second language, and as a medium of international communication, something like Esperanto may make more sense than English. In fact, after teaching English as a foreign language for a couple of years, I came to the conclusion that it would make much more sense to teach Pidgin English than real English.

But when pidgins become the primary language of a community, they cease to be regular and simple. Why? Is creolization a degenerative process, or do the irregularities have a function in language? I think we need an answer to this question before we assume that we can construct a "logical" language and use it as a real medium of communication.

3. lojbab: (responding to 2.) On the other hand, why not invent a completely regular language, with a 'cultural ethic' that values that regularity, and observe what if any irregularities come into existence.

4. dtate: (responding to 3.) Because you can't create a 'cultural ethic' by fiat.

5. lojbab: (continuation of 3.) Lojban is not limited in linguistic research application to testing Sapir-Whorf; I've given a lot of my own effort to ensuring that the design is robust enough to allow other studies. Pidgins and creoles of the world have all evolved from interaction between two or more already irregular and highly complex languages. Variables to watch in analyzing the evolution of the language are too many and too poorly understood. Lojban is both much simpler and highly regular. Presumably as a result, the variables affecting pidginization and creolization, and indeed all other manner of linguistic change will stand out much better.

Furthermore, as a fledgling 'international language' that differs structurally from all of the 'first languages' of the world, the studies of evolutionary processes can be conducted over and again as Lojban interacts with each of the languages and cultures in which it is introduced.

Other areas of possible Lojban application include language universals (Lojban is relatively neutral on some of these, supporting many competing forms; the ones that survive or spread as the language becomes a 'living' language' are thus worth studying to find out why.) and universal grammar (if Lojban proves to be acquired by chil- dren and adults as easily as natural languages, UG will have to be able to explain it).

Note that a small number of Lojban speakers (especially in a specific speaking locale) would be expected to show evolutionary effects more quickly, enhancing the chances of observing such effects during a short research period. We've set an early prescriptive policy towards the language precisely to allow enough of a fluent speaker base to form to preserve some type of linguistic identity to serve as a starting point.

6. pepke: (responding to 2.) "Degenerative" is kind of a loaded term. It may just be the point of view. If you start off with an artificially "perfect" language, just about any change will seem degenerative.

7. lojbab: (responding to 6.) Not in the case of Lojban. ONLY a change that introduces structural ambiguity is automatically 'frowned upon', and I personally doubt there is a major evolutionary force in language that promotes such ambiguity 'for it's own sake' - there would have to be some other explanation for an ambiguity to be introduced.

Most other types of changes (word formation rules, phonological changes, preference in word order among them) would not be inherently degenerative. No one in the Lojban community thinks that we've created a 'perfect' language, only an 'adequate' one for communication and linguistic research.


8. loren: (later in the discussion) I wonder how Lojban handles (1) words for opposites and (2) verb aspects (if present).

9. cowan: (responding to 8.) The term "opposite" is a bit vague. Among its 1300+ root words, some have "opposites" and some don't. There are words for both "increase" and "decrease"; "beautiful" is a root but "ugly" is not. Since the root words are primarily chosen for ease-of-use in making compounds, this was justified primarily by the desire to make shorter compounds.

There is a faction which has argued that there are too many root words (and that opposites in particular should be stripped out); another faction holds that there are too few (that choosing "beautiful" rather than "ugly" is an unwanted bias). In fact, having a list of root words at all is ipso facto a bias, but it is a known bias which can be allowed for. The alternative is having to construct 4-5 million distinct words with no compounding rules at all to cover the vocabulary range of the world's languages.

The general Lojban solution lies in the four particles "na'e", "to'e", "no'e", and "je'a", which are four kinds of scalar negation. This is distinct from contradictory negation ("It is not the case that...") which is represented in Lojban by "na" and "naku".

"na'e" is nonspecific scalar negation, analogous to English "non-". "lo na'e gerku" means "a non-dog", which in principle could be anything that is not a dog, but probably means some other kind of animal.

"to'e" is polar opposite scalar negation, analogous to some uses of English "un-"/"in-". "Beautiful" is "melbi", and "ugly" is "to'e melbi". "barda" ("large") means the same as "to'e cmalu" ("unsmall"), and vice versa.

"no'e" is scalar neutral negation. This arises when a scale whose opposing ends are "X" and "to'e X" has a natural midpoint. "no'e melbi" for example might be translated "plain" or "ordinary-looking".

"je'a" is affirmation, and has the same meaning as no particle at all. It is chiefly useful to deny one of the other particles in conversation [ed. note, also for emphatic affirmation].

(Lojban also has another type of negation called metalinguistic negation, where the adequacy of the utterance is denied due to category mistake or what have you. The particle "na'i" indicates that what precedes it (or the whole last utterance, if nothing precedes in this utterance) is erroneous in some such way. If a Lojbanist asks another:

xu do sisti le zu'o do rapdarxi le do fetspe

literally:

(True or false?) You cease the activity of repeat-hitting your female-spouse?

or idiomatically:

Have you stopped beating your wife?

a good and sufficient answer is "na'i".)

The above sentence could be expressed with the aspect grammar rather than with the word "sisti" (cease), but I don't know the language well enough to do so yet.

The tense/aspect system of Lojban is one of the most complex parts of the grammar, and I am far from sure that I understand it altogether. Fortunately, it is 100% optional. Everything it can express can also be expressed semantically through the predicate grammar, or just omitted altogether.

Rather than trying to explain the whole thing systematically, I will simply give an unsystematic catalogue of the kinds of things that can be expressed. Note: any of these items may be combined either by logical connectives (and, or, xor, etc.) or by non-logical ones (joined with, mixed with, union, intersection, etc.)

It is also worth mentioning that Lojban tense is "sticky" and that once set it propagates to all following untensed sentences [ed. note: This is the default pragmatic interpretation for many contexts; however there may be contextual circumstances where tense does not carry over, such as:] In stories, this is modified a bit by the assumption that narrative flows in time, so each sentence may represent a time later than that of the preceding one. One may, however, by proper use of the time offset machinery, tell stories backwards or inside-out as desired.

First, Lojban tense handles both time relations and space relations, where time may be treated either as sui generis or in an Einsteinian way as the fourth spatial dimension. Time and space are formally parallel: for each, there is a way of specifying an origin, one or more offsets from the origin (directions in time or space), and an interval around the point thus determined. In the case of space only, the interval may be specified as 1-, 2-, 3- or 4- dimensional. In addition, there is machinery for rep- resenting motions in space, but not in time. Should time travel become practicable, the 4-dimensional facilities of the space motion grammar may become useful.

Intervals may also be modified by either or both of two kinds of modifiers. One type is a quantified tense, which may be either objective (corresponding to English "never", "once", "twice", ..., "always" for time, or "nowhere", "in one place", ..., "everywhere" for space) or subjective (things like "habitually" and "continuously"). The other type is an "event contour", handling things like "during", "after the (natural) end of", "after the termination of", etc.

There is also a mechanism for specifying the actuality/potentiality status of a predication: things like "can and has", "can but has not", etc.

Separate from all this, Lojban prepositions (really case tags) can be used as adverbials also, and are grammatically almost interchangeable with the tenses. Likewise, the tenses can be used prepositionally. "pu" represents the past tense (time direction in the past), but means "earlier than" as a preposition. "bai" on the other hand is the preposition "under the compulsion of" but means "forcedly" when used as an aspectual. This list of prepositions/adverbials/ aspectuals/case tags is extensible to any predicate whatsoever by using the particle "fi'o" which makes a predicate into an aspectual.


Subject: Lojban gismu Vocabulary


Participants:

[email protected] (Ivan Derzhanski
[email protected] (Bob LeChevalier)

1. lojbab: [part of a longer discussion on Lojban roots] We wanted to maximize ease of learning, BUT not at the expense of cultural neutrality. Loglan (generic) thus maximizes reflecting the sequences of phonemes in a given word from the corresponding words in the source languages, weighted by speaker population. Thus 'blanu' has the phonemes in order of English 'blue' and Chinese 'lan' (with appropriate tone which I don't have handy). The result is intended to be words that are distinctly different from those of any one language, but which sound 'natural' to speakers of the source languages and also have an indirect cognate value - not one that is necessarily obvious, but one that can be used to learn the word if it is pointed out.

2. ivan: (responding to 1.) If it is pointed out indeed. I speak Russian, English, Spanish and Hindi, and I know some Arabic, but my attempts to analyze some Lojban words and to discover their roots failed almost totally.

3. lojbab: (responding to 2.) At first contact, you WILL need to have the connection pointed out. But I suspect that after the connections are pointed out for a few words, someone with your language experience will begin to see the patterns. One problem, of course, is that we go for aural recognition, NOT visual recognition, and use Lojbanized phonetics. The Procrustean bed of Lojban morphology (all roots are of the pattern CCVCV or CVCCV) also constrains the result enormously. The algorithm we use attempts, within the framework of this morphology, to maximize aural recognition for an active student of the language.

4. lojbab: (continuation of 1.) Incidentally, once you get used to them, the regularities in Lojban words have their own aesthetic value, just as Nick's portmanteau words from Esperanto do. Lojban words have a lot of medial 'n' and 'r' and initial fricatives 'j', 'c', and 's', all derived from the heavy Chinese weighting. I have a little trouble with the fricatives unless I'm relaxed - I get 'she sells sea shells' type tongue twisters, but I presume the Chinese will find it pleasant.

5. ivan: (responding to 4.) No offence intended, but I'd like to hear the Chinese confirm this. For all you know, they may not. Schleyer went out of his way to put as few "r"s as possible in Volapk words, so that the Chinese will be happy. I hope at least his Chinese find it easy to say "obs" `we' or "coecs" `government officials' (i.e. `judges'), because I don't. :-)

6. lojbab: (responding to 5.) That of course is the problem with any a priori word-making scheme. Especially without strong aid from native speakers. We have had one Chinese speaker look at this question directly, but since she is also fluent in German and English, she isn't necessarily an unbiased observer. The reason for the high sibilant frequencies though, is that several Chinese consonants map into Lojban 'c', 's', and 'j'.

Still, there is a balancing act. Chinese is favored by the weighting scheme, but as you point out, we have 'r' and 'l' as phonemes which are much more common in other languages. Still, a high percentage of Lojban roots have syllable ending '-an' making 'n' such a common letter in the language, its frequency exceeds most vowels (in a language more vowel rich than English because of all the CV and CVV structure words).

We had to make guesses on how to achieve recognizability in other languages, (and were also constrained to be consistent with 30 years of prior work by language inventor Brown). Ideally, there would have been scientific testing of our algorithm in native speakers of each language before making the words, but this wasn't possible and indeed wasn't important enough.

The important thing was to have a neutral word-making method that did not favor any one language population, and paid at least lip service to recognizing language diversity. We also wanted non-random words, with phonemes occurring in orders that are speakable and familiar, and we got this.

7. lojbab: (continuation of 1., from 4.) Some of the initial consonant clusters look intimidating, but Ivan won't mind them.

8. ivan: (responding to 7.) I certainly don't. I don't take them all for granted, but they are not intimidating in any case.

9. lojbab: (continuation of 7.) (and might prefer them)

10. ivan: (responding to 9.) ... prefer them to what? Not to simple consonant-vowel alternation, no. I wouldn't miss the clusters if they weren't there. But they are, and I won't complain.

11. lojbab: (responding to 10.) One of the most frequent comments about Lojban words is that the consonant clusters look hard to English speakers, and this was more an answer to this criticism than a claim about the aesthetics of Slavic language speakers. Still, it seems a reasonable presumption that most people feel more comfortable with a language that sounds a little like their own. Interestingly, our phonology has a result that several people with experience with a variety of languages have said that Lojban (as I speak it) sounds like a south Slavic language. It will be interesting at some point to have a southern Slavic speaker confirm this.

The range of consonant clusters we permit in Lojban was augmented after a Slavic languages expert pointed out that our set was extremely tame and excessively constraining on the words and their recognition. Lojban root words can be recognized as roots by the presence of the consonant cluster - which is never found in structure words and al- ways found in predicate words. We thus constrained the set of clusters in medial position by disallowing voiced/unvoiced mixing of stops and fricatives, doubled consonants, and most mixed sibilants. Permitted initial clusters are a subset of these (48), which are phonetically symmetric (thus, because we allow the unvoiced 'st', we allow the voiced equivalent 'zd', even though it isn't found in English.

Languages require a certain amount of redundancy to be understandable. My own comparative examination seems to indicate that most languages have either consonant clusters or tones, and that having one seems to minimize the evolutionary pressure towards the other. Polynesian and Japanese are the only exceptions to this I know of (and Japanese actually has some clusters, though they aren't reflected in the writing system). Can anybody confirm or deny my observation? What other techniques are found in languages that improve redundancy.

12. lojbab: (continuation of 1., from 7. and 9.) So we end up with a language that has some aesthetic appeal for everyone, but perhaps doesn't satisfy everyone; a pleasant cultural tension/ balance.

13. ivan: (responding to 12.) And again, don't stress too much on the aesthetic side. It is too subjective. It is up to the person. Let's talk efficiency and ease.

14. lojbab: (responding to 13.) Aesthetics is enormously important, even though subjective. It determines people's first reactions to the language. Efficiency can be quantified, and is more objective, as you say. But languages need some minimum redundancy and I suspect that we don't know what that minimum is. So pushing too hard in this direction might give a language that is too efficient to be practical (Anyone for Speedtalk - Heinlein's language in 'Gulf').

15. lojbab: (continuation of 1.) Thus spaghetti becomes 'djarspageti', with the 'dja' from 'cidja', the word for 'food'.

16. ivan: (responding to 15.) "ci" is the Chinese _shi4_, I presume. What is "dja"?

17. lojbab: (responding to 16.) Ivan Derzhanski asked about the Lojban etymologies, and gave 'cidja' as an example word. It is halfway down this list.

The following are rough etymologies of a sampling of Lojban words. These are being assembled for eventual publication as a set, but we have to manually reconstruct what the computer-run algorithm did for each word.

It is key to remember that we often ran several words from a single language against words from other languages in order to select the word with the highest score. In some cases, this means that the word from a language that 'won' is not the best word for the concept in the language. Instead, subject to a little educated guesswork, we have words that offer a reasonable cognate-like memory hook between the Lojban word and a related source-language word.

A second note, is that words are Lojbanized phonetically. This can result in some strange-looking spellings; e.g. English and Russian vowels and final consonants often change.

I'll schematically outline the information for the first word:

                                                           
714c      katna	82.00	     cut                       
                                                           
[Algo     [Lojban	[score	     [English                  
run	#]    word]	(0-100)]     keyword]                  
                                                           

[This line is from a summary file of algorithm outputs, prepared manually at the time we made the words.]

kan kat kat kort kas kata

[Lojbanized phonetic forms of the source language words - the order of words is Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic. We have not yet manually gone back to our paper originals to get the Romanized natural language spellings. Note: some declensional word endings were systematically removed to get a true root. This was to avoid getting a false recognition score solely from the declension. The stop component of affricates were removed for the same reason. There were a few other systematic a priori modifications to the source language words that I can respond to if anyone has questions about a word. Note that the source word may not be the best word for the concept in the language. We aren't expert in all these languages, and in any case wanted to have a memory hook for the word more than a cognate.

(cut )

[English keyword from the algorithm output file]

katna 82.00 3 3 3 0 2 4

[Lojban word and score from the output file - there were occasional typos in making the manual summary, which we are only now finding (about 3-4% error rate - we were working quickly and didn't check ourselves well). The 6 digits are scores for the 6 source words, in order. The numbers represent phoneme matches, in order - a score of 1 was considered useless for recognition, and a score of 2 required the phonemes to be adjacent or separated by exactly one phoneme in BOTH source and Lojban. Thus 'kort' from Spanish gets a 0 score even though it has some cognate value.]

714c  katna	    82.00     cut                              
      kan kat kat kort kas kata                            
      (cut	)                                              
      katna	 82.00 3 3 3 0 2 4                             

714c  klaku	60.90	  weep (cry)			    
      ku krai vilap ior	plak baka			    
      (weep  )						    
      klaku  60.90 2 2 2 0 3 2				    
                                                            
714c  krixa	61.30	  cry out			    
      xan krai cila grit kric sarax			    
      (cry out	)					    
      krixa  61.30 2 3 2 2 3 2				    
                                                            
714c  kulnu	45.20	  culture			    
      uen kalcr	sabiat kultur kultur takaf		    
      uen kalcr	sanskrit kultur	kultur takaf		    
      uen kalcr	sabiat kultur kultur tarbut		    
      uen kalcr	sanskrit kultur	kultur tarbut		    
      (culture	)                                           
      kulnu  45.20 2 2 0 4 4 0				    
							    
714c  mitre	89.40	  meter				    
      mi mitr mitar metr mietr mitr			    
      (meter  )                                             
      mitre  89.40 2 4 4 3 4 4				    
							    
714c  sanmi	62.90	  meal				    
      san mil bojan sen	eda taam			    
      (meal  )						    
      sanmi  62.90 3 2 2 2 0 2				    
							    
714c  sefta	60.00	  surface/face                      
      2/2o lower score no conflict [the	highest	score word  
     was used]						    
      se srfis satax kostad pavierxnast	satxa		    
      (surface	)					    
      sefta  60.00 2 2 3 3 0 3                              
							    
714d  bersa	57.00	  son				    
      er san beta ix sin ibn				    
      er san beta ix sin najl				    
      (son  )						    
      bersa  57.00 2 2 3 0 0 0				    
                                                            
714d  pruxi	53.00	  spirit			    
      guei spirit pret espiritu	dux rux			    
      (spirit  )					    
      pruxi  53.00 2 3 2 3 2 3				    
							    
714d  suksa	61.20	  sudden                            
      su sadn saxsa subit vdruk	faja                        
      su sadn saxsa subit vdruk	bagta                       
      (sudden  )                                            

714e  fetsi	    62.14     female/fem-                      
      si fem stri feminin jiensk uncau                     
      (female  )                                           
      fetsi	 62.14 2 2 2 3 2 0                             
                                                           
714e  spoja	    57.51     explode                          
      ja iksplod vispot eksplo vzriv fajar                 
      (explode  )                                          
      spoja	 57.51 2 3 3 3 0 2                             
                                                           
714f  catlu	    45.05     look                             
      ciau luk dek mir smatr tatala                        
      ciau luk dek ve smatr	tatala                         
      (look	at  )                                          
      catlu	 45.05 3 2 0 0 2 3                             
                                                           
714f  grake	    80.70     gram                             
      ke gram gram gram gram giram                         
      (gram	 )                                             
      grake	 80.70 2 3 3 3 3 3                             
                                                           
714f  krefu	    57.53     recur                            
      3/3o lower score no conflict affix                   
      [the 3rd best	word was taken to give the word	a short
     affix]                                                
      fu rikr pir rekur pere takrar                        
      (recur  )                                            
      krefu	 57.53 2 2 0 3 2 2                             
                                                           
714f  lijda	    42.72     religion (relig-)                
      jiau rilij darm relixio religi din                   
      (religious  )                                        
      lijda	 42.72 2 3 2 2 2 0                             
                                                           
714f  mlana	    54.29     side/lateral                     
      4/4o lower score no conflict affix                   
      mian latrl satax lad starana janib                   
      mian latrl bagal lad starana janib                   
      (side	 )                                             
      mlana	 54.29 3 2 2 2 3 2                             
                                                           
714f  rinju	    49.08     restrain                         
      ju ristrein pratiband	refren abuzdiv kabax           
      ju ristrein pratiband	refren sdierjiv	kabax          
      (restrain  )                                         
      rinju	 49.08 2 3 3 2 0 0                             
                                                           

Subject: Interlinguistics and Lojban Vocabulary Building


Participants:

[email protected] (Jeff Prothero)
[email protected] (Bob LeChevalier)
[email protected] (Mike Urban)

Jeff Prothero:

I've been poking through the Linguistics section of the campus library, and found a book which might interest other Loglanists:

Trends in Linguistics - Studies and Monographs 42: Interlinguistics Aspects of the Science of Planned Languages, Klaus Schubert (Ed.), Mouton de Gruyter 1989, ISBN 3-11-011910-2, 350 pg., $66.

"This book ... is an invitation to all those interested in languages and linguistics to make themselves acquainted with some recent streams of scientific discussion in the field of planned languages."

The book is a collection of fifteen recent papers in interlinguistics. For folks who (like me) haven't been following the field, the bibliographies provide an up-to- date set of pointers into the literature, plus some overviews of it. I think the table of contents gives an adequate idea of the scope and focus of the book:


Part I: Introductions

Andre Martinet: The proof of the pudding

Klaus Schubert: Interlinguistics - its aims, its achievements, and its place in language science.

Part II: Planned Languages in Linguistics

Aleksandr D Dulicenko: Ethnic language and planned language.

Detlev Blanke: Planned languages - a survey of some of the main problems.

Sergej N Kuznecov: Interlinguistics: a branch of applied linguistics?

Part III: Languages Design and Language Change

Dan Maxwell: Principles for constructing Planned Languages

Francois Lo Jacomo: Optimization in language planning

Claude Piron: A few notes on the evolution of Esperanto

Part IV: Sociolinguistics and Psycholinguistics

Jonathan Pool - Bernard Grofman: Linguistic artificiality and cognitive competence

Claude Piron: Who are the speakers of Esperanto

Tazio Carlevaro: Planned auxiliary language and communicative competence.

Part V: The Language of Literature

Manuel Halvelik: Planning nonstandard language

Pierre Janton: If Shakespeare had written in Esperanto Part

VI: Grammar

Probal Dasgupta: Degree words in Esperanto and categories in Universal Grammar

Klaus Schubert: An unplanned development in planned languages.

Part VII: Terminology and Computational Lexicography

Wera Blanke: Terminological standardization - its roots and fruits in planned languages

Rudiger Eichholz: Terminics in the interethnic language

Victor Sadler: Knowledge-driven terminography for machine translation


I'm not a linguist, and won't attempt to review the book from a linguistics point of view, but I will highlight some points of particular interest to Loglanists:

First, there is some mention of Loglan (and the thousand- odd other artificial language projects to date), but the bulk of the focus is on Esperanto, for the simple reason that 99.9% of fluent planned-language users speak Esperanto, and a similar percentage of the written-text corpus from the planned language community is in Esperanto. (Any Loglanists who cannot tolerate mention of That Language are invited to stop reading at this point. :-)

Second, I (and perhaps most Loglanists) was unaware of the Distributed Language Translation project, which seems to be of considerable potential interest to Loglanists. The following is quoted for comment:


"Distributed Language Translation is the name of a long- term research and development project carried out by the BSO software house in Utrecht with funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs. For the present seven year period (1985-1991) it has a budget of 17 million guilders... Although much larger in size than earlier attempts, DLT started off as just another project of the second stage, using Esperanto as its intermediate language. Esperanto had been judged suitable for this purpose because of its highly regular syntax and morphology and because its agglutinative nature promised an especially efficient possibility of morpheme-based coding of messages for network transmission. During the course of the first years of the large-scale practical development, however, the role of Esperanto in the DLT system increased substantially. the intermediate language took over more and more processes originally designed to be carried out either in the source or in the target languages of the multilingual system. When I consider the DLT system to be one step more highly developed than the earlier implementations involving Esperanto, it is because the increase in the role of Esperanto was due to intrinsic qualities of Esperanto as a planned language. In other words, Esperanto is in DLT no longer treated as any other language (which incidentally has a somewhat more computer-friendly grammar than other languages), but it is now used in DLT for a large part of the overall translation process because of its special features as a planned language. Some facets of this complex application are discussed by Sadler [in this volume].

"The functions fulfilled in DLT by means of Esperanto are numerous. Generally speaking one can say that since the insight about the usefulness of a planned language's particular features for natural-language processing, the whole DLT system design has tended to move into the Esper- anto part of the system all functions that are not specific for particular source or target languages. These are all semantic and pragmatic processes of meaning disambiguation, word choice, detection of semantic deixis and reference relations, etc. So-called knowledge of the world has been stored in a lexical knowledge bank and is consulted by a word expert system. All these applications of Artificial Intelligence are in DLT carried out entirely in Esperanto. Let it be said explicitly: Esperanto does not serve as a programming language (DLT is implemented in Prolog and C), but as a human language which renders the full content of the source text being translated with all its nuances, disambiguates it and conveys it to the second translation step to a target language."


Obviously, the existence of significant amounts of fully disambiguated, machine-processable Esperanto text in such a translation system opens up the possibility of wholesale mechanical translation into Loglan. This would be, obvi- ously, particularly easy if the (currently poorly-defined) semantics of the Loglan affix system were brought into line with the existing semantics of the Esperanto affix system. In this case, bi-directional mechanical translation between the two languages might become quite easy, possible producing sort of an "instant literature" for the Loglanist.

Building a simple correspondence between Esperanto and Loglan affixes is not as far-fetched an idea as it might first seem. Esperanto, like Loglan, uses a single root- stock of affixes which may be arbitrarily concatenated to form compound words. Where Loglan assigns two forms to (most) concepts, a pred and an affix, Esperanto uniformly assigns only a single affix (cutting the learning load in half!), but this poses no particular intertranslation problem. Loglan affixes are designed to be uniquely resolvable, and Esperanto affixes are not, but this problem has evidently already been solved, hence again poses no particular problem to bi-directional translation. Again, Loglan has a (putatively) unambiguous grammar which Esperanto lacks, but this problem has apparently already been satisfactorily resolved at the Esperanto end.


Elsewhere on the affix front, Loglan has a set of affixes, but has barely begun the enormous task of building the compound-word vocabulary. Loglan could learn from Esperanto on (at least) two levels.


Most obviously, bringing the Loglan affix system into semantic correspondence with the Esperanto affix system would open the door to wholesale borrowing of Esperanto compound metaphors, capitalizing on the planned language community's multi-mega-man-year investment. Unless there are sound engineering concerns to the contrary (I see none), there seems no reason to idly re-invent a wheel of this magnitude. This ain't a DOD project, folks :-) There will be language bigots on both sides opposed in principle to any cooperation, of course...

Less obviously, Loglan may be able to benefit from the design knowledge gained from a century's experience with, and linguistic study of, the Esperanto affix system. Klaus Schubert's paper "An unplanned development in planned languages: A study of word grammar" is suggestive. Zamenhof, like Jim Brown, paid no particular attention to word formation in his original design, simply providing a uniform stock of primitives which could be concatenated at will to create new words.

Despite this lack of conscious planning, linguistic study of word formation in Esperanto (started by Rene de Saussure - not to be confused with Ferdinand Saussure - and continued by Sergej Kuznecov and others), this simple syntactic combination rule has supported the development of a systematic set of semantic combination rules. These (unwritten and unconscious but nevertheless universal) semantic combination rules allow the Esperantist, when faced with an unfamiliar compound word, to not only decompose it into (usually) familiar primitives, but also to somewhat systematically deduce the meaning of the word. Recent decades have apparently seen increasingly free use of these facilities.

I won't attempt a summary of these semantic rules here, but will try to give the flavor. Even though the primitive stock syntactically forms a single neutral pool, it appears that prims [gismu] are semantically treated in word combination by Esperantists as being divided into noun, verb and modifier (combined adverb/adjective) classes, which combine with distinctively different rules. This distinction provides one dimension for sorting prims.

A second, orthogonal dimension sorts prims into the categories independent morpheme, declension morpheme, ending (these first three correspond roughly to Loglan's "little words"), affixoid, affix and root (these final three correspond to the Loglan affix set). These affix types combine according to a word-compounding grammar which allows the listener to distinguish (among other things) those compounds whose meaning is directly deducible from the meaning of the component prims, from those compounds whose meaning is metaphorical and must be learned.

If Loglan were to borrow the Esperanto compound vocabulary wholesale, it would of course, willy nilly, inherit these semantic regularities as well. Otherwise, it might be well to study these regularities and consciously incorporate them in the Loglan vocabulary.


lojbab responds:

  1. Of the authors, Detlev Blanke is on our mailing list, but probably too recently to have based anything he wrote on our material.
  2. Jeff's quoted description of the Netherlands translation project is useful; we were certainly aware of it.
  3. The Netherlands project is based on Esperanto - but with a caveat. It uses a formalized 'written' Esperanto form that may be slightly different from spoken forms, but most importantly has disambiguating information encoded in the way the language is written. For example grouping of modifiers (our 'pretty little girls school' problem) is solved by using extra SPACES to disambiguate which terms modify which.
  4. Esperanto's affix system is similarly ambiguous, though not as bad as 1975 Loglan was. I've been given a few examples. Some handy ones are 'romano' which is either a 'novel' (root + no affix) or 'Roman' (root 'Romo' = Rome plus affix -an-) and 'banano' which is either 'banana' or 'bather' (from 'bano' = bath + -an- again). I've been told there are many others. This type of ambiguity presents no problem to a machine translator, which can store hyphens to separate affixes etc.
  5. I have not investigated Esperanto's affix system thoroughly, but it is not compatible with Lojban's. (We did ensure at one point that we had gismu, and therefore rafsi corresponding to each of the Esperanto affixes, though.) Simply put, Lojban has rafsi for EACH of its gismu. Esperanto has only a couple of dozen, and a MUCH larger root set. Some Esperanto affixes have several Lojban equivalents. For example, we now have "na'e", "no'e" and "to'e" for scalar negation of various sorts to correspond to Esperanto's "mal-". Note that Jeff did not mention the large root set in his comments. Most of these roots are combined by concatenation, like German. But apparently as often as not a new root is coined rather than concatenate, since Esperanto has no stigma attached to borrowing. But it is not true that Lojban has two forms while Esperanto only has one.
  6. The Esperanto affix/semantic system is probably even more poorly defined than Lojban's. As Jeff said, it is largely intuitive; this means independent of a rule system. However, there are rules; this was mentioned a few times in the recent JL debates between Don Harlow, Athelstan and myself. A guy named Kalocsay apparently wrote up the rules early in this century; they are some 40-50 pages long and most Esperantists never read them much less learn them. They also are apparently rather freely violated in actual usage; they were descriptive of the known language, not prescriptive. By the way, I suspect that Lojban's compounding semantics is actually better-defined than it seems. I just don't know enough about semantic theory to attempt to write it up. Jim Carter wrote a paper several years ago, which we can probably offer for distribution (or he can), on the semantics of compound place structures. We haven't adopted what he has said whole-hog, but it certainly has been influential.
  7. We will probably make extensive use of Esperanto dictionaries when we start our buildup of the Lojban lujvo vocabulary. We thus will not reinvent the wheel in totality. BUT, we cannot do this freely for a large number of reasons.
    1. our root set is different than theirs. Some of their compounds will thus not work. The same is true of old Loglan words. We've been held up on translating Jim Carter's Akira story (the one he uses in all his guaspi examples) from old Loglan to Lojban by this need to retranslate all the compounds (which he used extensively and in ways inconsistent with our current, better defined semantics).
    2. as mentioned above, our affixes are not in 1-to-1 correspondence.
    3. their compounds undoubtedly have a strong European bias. I doubt if it is as bad as Jim Brown's (who built the compound for 'to man a ship' from the metaphor 'man- do'; i.e. 'to do as a man to'. He also did 'kill' as 'dead-make' where 'make' is the concept 'to make ... from materials ...' Sounds more like Frankenstein to me, folks.) But I suspect Esperanto has a few zinger's in there. Indeed, I understand the Ido people criticized Esperanto most significantly for its illogical word building, though I don't have details. I also intend to draw heavily from Chinese, which has a more Lojbanic tanru 'metaphor' system since it doesn't distinguish between nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Esperanto tries to get around this by allowing relatively free conversion between these categories, but the root concepts are taken from European languages that more rigidly categorize words, and their compounds probably reflect European semantics.
    4. Most importantly, Esperanto words are not gismu. They do not have place structures. Lojban words do, and the affix semantics and compound semantics must be consistent with those place structures. We've covered this in previous discussions in the guise of warning against 'figurative' metaphors that are inconsistent with the place structures.
    5. Nope. Most importantly is another reason. Lojban is its own language. It should not be an encoded Esperanto any more then it should be an encoded English. I suspect that just like English words, Esperanto words sometimes have diverse multiple context-dependent meanings (though again perhaps less severely than English). We want to minimize this occurrence in Lojban if not prevent it (we may not succeed, but we can try - the rule that every word created must have a place structure is a good start.)

The bottom line is that each Esperanto word must be checked for validity, just like any other lujvo proposal, but must also be translated into its closest equivalent Lojban tanru as well, and have a place structure written, etc. The bulk of dictionary writing is this other work. I can and have made new tanru/lujvo (without working out the place structures) at the rate of several per MINUTE for related concepts. Coranth D'Gryphon posted a couple hundred proposals last December (that no one commented on), which he made based on English definitions. We have perhaps 200 PAGES of word proposals to go through. Nearly all of these have no place structures defined or are defined haphazardly.

Lojban also has a multi-man-year investment behind it, though not 'mega'. No, Jeff, we aren't a DOD project, but in terms of people working on it and time spent, we've far exceeded many such projects. And word-building, whether for better or worse, has received the greatest portion of that effort, since that is all most people have felt competent to work on. (Incidentally, the Netherlands project IS a government sponsored project, if not defense- related. If we had several million dollars, I think we'd be well along the way to a translator ourselves. Sheldon Linker has claimed that he could do a Lojban conversing program with heuristic 'understanding' a la HAL 9000 in 5 man-years. This is, in my mind, of comparable difficulty to a heuristic translation program. Any comments out there from those who know more than I do on this subject?


Mike Urban:

While I am a dyed-in-the-wool Esperantist, I agree that attempting to modify or extend Lojban in imitation of various features of Esperanto would be a mistake (I also lose patience with reformers who want to Lojbanify aspects of Esperanto).

Esperanto's `affix system is ambiguous' to the extent that the language itself is indeed lexically ambiguous. Not only `affixes' but roots themselves are combinable, and so it is possible to come up with endless puns like the `banano' ones you mentioned (`literaturo' might be a tower of letters, i.e., a `litera turo'). Without the careful, but somewhat restrictive, phonological rules that Loglan or Lojban provides, this kind of collision is inevitable.

The borrowing of words in Esperanto (`neologisms') instead of using a compound form is a controversial topic. Claude Piron, in his recent book, La Bona Lingvo, argues (quite convincingly, I think) that the tendency of some Es- perantists to use neologisms, usually from French, English, or Greek, is partly based on pedanticism, partly based on Eurocentrism (``you mean, everyone doesn't know what `monotona' means?), partly a Francophone desire to have a separate word for everything, and largely a failure to really Think IN Esperanto, rather than translating. In any case, the distinction in Esperanto between affixes and root words has always been a thin one (Zamenhof mentioned that you can do anything with an affix that you can do with a root), and has been getting even thinner in recent years. Combining by concatenation is every bit as intrinsic to the language as the use of suffixes.

You asked about Ido and Esperanto. While I have not looked at Ido in a number of years, I recall that the main gripe of the Idists was not that Esperanto was too European - indeed, one of their reforms was to discard Esperanto's rather a priori `correlative' system of relative pronouns (which works rather as if we used `whus' instead of `how' for parallelism with `what/that, where/ there') in favor of a more latinate - but unsystematic - assortment of words. If anything, Idists tended towards a more Eurocentric (or Francocentric) view than Esperantists did. Ido's affix system, however, attempted to be more like Loglan/Lojban. They took the view that predicates did not have intrinsic parts of speech; thus any conversion of meaning through the use of affixes should be `reversible'. Thus, if `marteli' is `to hammer', then `martelo' must mean an act of hammering, not (as in Esperanto) `a hammer'; or, if `martelo' means `a hammer', then `marteli' must mean `to be a hammer'. One result of this is a somewhat larger assortment of affixes than Esperanto possesses, (for example, a suffix that would transform a noun root `martelo' to a root meaning `to hammer') with rather subtle shades of distinction in some cases. The result is a language that is only slightly more logical than Esperanto, but proportionally harder to learn, and no less Eurocentric.

Linguistic tinkerers like the Idists underestimated the organic quality of Esperanto, or of any living language. Indeed, one of the valuable aspect of Lojban or Loglan, if either ever develops a substantial population of fluent speakers, will be to observe the extent to which the common usages of the language diverge from the prescriptive definitions. Such effects will, I think, be easier to isolate and analyze in a language that was created `from whole cloth' than in an a posteriori language like Esperanto.

Proposed Lojban Machine Grammar Baseline Changes

by John Cowan

This document explains the technical corrections to the tentative baseline grammar of 20 July as proposed by John Cowan. Each change is explained in a three-part format: CURRENT LANGUAGE; PROPOSED CHANGE; RATIONALE. Those wishing an exact list of changes to the grammar baseline rules should contact us. The changes are sufficiently minor that we do not plan to reissue the machine grammar before the final baseline, although we are considering an addendum with the exact list of changes after they are formally approved, which will go to those at level 2 and above.

Executive Summary:

  1. JOIK connection between operands
  2. Multiple EK_KEs between operands
  3. Reorder BIhI GAhO GAhO to GAhO BIhI GAhO
  4. Remove GAhOs in parentheses
  5. NA SE without NAI in afterthought connectives
  6. Negation/conversion of BIhI
  7. KI by itself and after BAI
  8. *ANNULLED*
  9. GIhEK_KE priority change
  10. No FAhO before TUhU
  11. Attach free modifierss to tense_modal, not PU_mod
  12. Allow ZI PU and VI FAhA
  13. Change utterance ordinals to free modifiers
  14. Allow only one NAhE before tense
  15. *ANNULLED*
  16. *ANNULLED*
  17. Allow forethought JOIKs
  18. Allow BU to suffix any word to produce a BY
  19. Remove MEX relations
Change 1

CURRENT LANGUAGE: Currently, logical connection of operands in the MEX grammar is allowed using EKs. However, JOIKs are not usable in MEX.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow JOIKs as well as EKs on the same grammatical level.

RATIONALE:

1) Operands are the formal analogues of sumti, and this change makes operand connection formally identical to sumti connection, so that it can be learned by analogy without a special exception.

2) Ranges ("from 3 to 10") can be easily expressed using selma'o BIhI and GAhO, which are part of the JOIK system. Currently, these can only be expressed by a messy variation on left and right parentheses, which doesn't work well because no separator is defined between the upper and the lower bound.

Change 2 

CURRENT LANGUAGE: Only one EK_KE construction is allowed after a MEX operand. You cannot say "pa .a ke ri .e ci ke'e .a ke vo .e mu" to mean "1 or (2 and 3) or (3 and 4)".

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow more than one consecutive EK_KE construct. RATIONALE:

1) same as 1) for Change 1.

2) This change amounts to changing an "operand_C" to an "operand_B". The baselined version was created by incorrectly copying existing text from the pre-baseline grammar, so this change is a "bug fix".

Change 3

CURRENT LANGUAGE: In expressing intervals with explicit end-markers, the order is BIhI GAhO GAhO, where the first GAhO is the left endpoint and the second one is the right endpoint.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Put the first GAhO before the BIhI

RATIONALE: Make this form more consistent with the logical connectives like "na.anai", where the marker for the left connectand precedes the connector.

Change 4

CURRENT LANGUAGE: MEX ranges are handled with GAhO operators attached to mathematical parentheses.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Remove this capability.

RATIONALE: See Change 1. This capability was never correctly specified, because only one expression can appear between parentheses, whereas ranges require two expressions inherently.

Change 5

CURRENT LANGUAGE: It is possible to specify either NA or SE before selma'o A, JA, GIhA, or ZIhA, but they cannot both be specified unless -NAI follows.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Remove this restriction.

RATIONALE: The intent of a previous change just before the baseline was to allow both NA and SE (in that order) in all cases, not just those where -NAI followed. This ability was accidentally omitted, so this is a "bug fix".

Change 6

CURRENT LANGUAGE: selma'o JOI can be converted with SE and negated with NAI like the logical connectives, but the closely related selma'o BIhI cannot.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow conversion and negation of BIhI.

RATIONALE: Converted ranges allow "se bi'o" which means "to...from..." and negated ranges allow "bi'inai" which means "not between".

Change 7

CURRENT LANGUAGE: KI can be used either on an origin specifier or on a time and/or space tense to reset the scope or position of the origin. KI by itself is ungrammatical.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow KI by itself. This returns the origin to the physical here and now. Also allow KI after BAI to set a default aspect value; "BAI KI sumti" sets the BAI aspect to the sumti, and "BAI KI KU" resets the aspect to its default.

RATIONALE: This capability existed in the pre-baseline grammar, and was omitted in error during the tense redesign.

Change 8 *ANNULLED*
Change 9

CURRENT LANGUAGE: GIhEK_KE constructs have lower priority than basic GIhEKs.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Place GIhEK_KE constructs at the highest priority among GIhEKs.

RATIONALE: This is the scheme used by sumti and operand connection, where EK has the lowest priority (and is left-binding), EK_BO has medium priority (and is right- binding), and EK_KE has highest priority (and is again left-binding). During the split between Institute Loglan and Lojban, sumti were changed to make EK_KE highest priority (and operands followed when MEX was redesigned) but bridi-tails were not changed.

Change 10

CURRENT LANGUAGE: FAhO can appear in two possible places, at the end of text (including TO-TOI parenthesized text), and just before the closing TUhU of a TUhE-TUhU very long scope construct.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Disallow FAhO before TUhU.

RATIONALE: FAhO was intended to signal the end of text unambiguously, but a parser problem forced it to be allowed in an additional context. That problem no longer exists.

Change 11

CURRENT LANGUAGE: The grouping of PU_mods means that a free modifier at the end of a PU_mod applies to the whole PU_mod rather than just to the tense_modal at the end, whereas free modifiers embedded within the PU_mod refer only to the tense_modals they follow. So "puxipa je puxire", which should mean "past-time t1 or past-time-t2" means "(past-time t1 or some-past-time)-sub-2". As a result, there would be no way to subscript a conjoint tense, but it is not clear what such subscripts would mean anyhow.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Move the free modifier to tense_modal.

RATIONALE: See CURRENT LANGUAGE section.

Change 12

CURRENT LANGUAGE: An initial FAhA cannot be followed by space offsets, but only by a space interval (or by nothing at all). Analogously for a ZI in the time system.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow FAhA followed by space-time-offsets and ZI followed by time offsets.

RATIONALE: This allows the currently ungrammatical "vizu'a" in the sense of "to the left of a nearby point". "zu'avi" on the other hand means "a point not far to the left of here". This distinction is subtle, but real. The change to the time system follows by symmetry, although initial ZI is probably not of much use, since it means "a short/medium/long time distance from now" without specifying either past or future.

Change 13

CURRENT LANGUAGE: Utterance ordinals using MAI are currently considered indicators, and can appear after any word and get absorbed.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Shift MAI constructs to the more restrictive free-modifier grammar.

RATIONALE: The absorber routines in the parsing program which need to remove non-initial utterance ordinals before YACC sees them have to read an arbitrary number of PA or BY tokens, determine whether the next token is a MAI, and if so absorb, but if not push back all the PA/BY stuff. This requires unbounded pushback capability in the absorber, which is to be avoided.

This change was proposed earlier but never consummated. A side effect of this change is that lexer_A would flag utterance ordinals only, and the regular indicators (UI, CAI, Y) no longer need lexer flagging. Another side effect is that FUhO, DAhO, and POhA can be treated as indicators (and PEhA as a forethought indicator like BAhE) rather than with special magic.

Change 14

CURRENT LANGUAGE: A tense can be prefixed with arbitrary numbers of NAhE tokens.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow only one NAhE token at most.

RATIONALE: The compounder needs to read past a potentially infinite number of NAhEs to decide whether what follows is a selbri (which is not compounded) or a tense. If this change is made, the compounder will always be able to decide within 2 tokens whether it has a compound or not. If multiple NAhEs are really needed, the tense can be expanded to use the predicate grammar instead.

Change 15: *ANNULLED*
Change 16: *ANNULLED*
Change 17

CURRENT LANGUAGE: Logical operators can be represented in either forethought or afterthought (except for tenses and abstractors), as can aspectual (BAI) operators, but the non-logical operators of JOI and BIhI have no forethought versions.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow "[SE] JOI GI [NAI]" and "[SE] BIhI GI [NAI]" as new kinds of forethought connectives, analogous to the existing "stag GI [NAI]" (see the E- BNF grammar). Forethought would still be disallowed in tanru (no GUhEK equivalent of this) and where the GAhO endpoint markers are required.

RATIONALE: Completeness, plus the fact that natural languages such as English usually represent JOIKs with forethought constructs ("the union of...and...", "from...to...", etc.) Institute Loglan had only one JOIK, "ze" (the equivalent of "joi"), so a forethought construction was not felt necessary. The far more elaborate JOIKs of Lojban can easily be extended to forethought.

Change 18

CURRENT LANGUAGE: "bu", selma'o BU, has a very restricted use. It can only appear after bare vowels (selma'o A, I, and Y) to create the lerfu for those vowels.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Allow "bu" after any (lexable) word whatever, to create something equivalent to selma'o BY. In addition, change the standard lerfu for "y" from "ybu" to "y'ybu". Remove the ZAI...FOI construct for change of character set, as well as the TEI construct. LAU is kept and extended to hold all lerfu prefixes, including "zai" to specify character set and "tau" to force a next-lerfu shift.

Composite symbols become represented by TEI letteral ... FOI, which has the grammar of a single letteral. RATIONALE: This allows the creation of a bunch of new lerfu. The Latin and Greek alphabets can be more readily accommodated; for example, "q" could have "kybu" as its lerfu. lerfu for the digits become possible; for example "pabu" would be the digit 1, as opposed to the number 1. "ybu" causes problems with the parser, as the "y" is absorbed into the preceding token (as a hesitation noise) and is not available to be compounded with "bu". "y'ybu" uses the lerfu "y'y" (alone representing "'") instead.

The ZAI...FOI construct is meant to specify new character sets, but requires spelling out the name of the character set in lerfu, for example "zai dy ebu vy abu ny abu gy abu ry ibu foi" to enable Devanagari mode. This is ugly. Using the new flexibility of "bu", we can say "zai .devanagar. bu" instead. (The pauses are needed in names for morphological reasons.)

Change 19

CURRENT LANGUAGE: There is a special category of predicates called "MEX relations" which have special grammar; they represent mathematical relations.

PROPOSED CHANGE: Assimilate MEX relations to ordinary predicates.

RATIONALE: MEX relations as defined cannot be logically connected and overlap ordinary predicates. The only MEX relation cmavo defensible on Zipfean grounds is "du", which is moved to selma'o GOhA.


Letters, Comments, and Responses - Vincent Burch, John Hodges, Bernard Golden, David Morrow

A Letter from Vincent Burch
(italicized comments by Bob)

... First, a couple of lexical questions:

gurni - does this mean grain (texture) or grain (cereal)? [cereal]

fepni - does the last place, "from..." indicate the major unit this is a division of, or the issuing authority? [the latter]

A few suggestions about place structures:

[These are open to comments from the community, and will be considered along with others as part of the ongoing place structure review.]

cevni - there should be another place to indicate purview ("of..."). This eliminates an inadvertent bias toward monotheism, and allows anthropologists, or anyone else, to easily discuss deities such as Thor, the Norse god of thunder.

cange, farm and purdi, garden - need another place for crop(s) grown.

zekri - should insert "against..." to indicate the victim. The concept that all crimes are crimes against the state is a relatively recent development of debatable merit. (I'm enough of an anarchist to think that "crime against the state" comes close to being an oxymoron.)

vindu - should add a place for source ("from...") so that, for example, le vindu fe le mledi, fungicide, can be distinguished from le vindu fi le mledi, mycotoxin. As a linguistic faulpelz, I'd like to know if there's a clear way to condense those phrases, and others like them, into lujvo.

[I assume, "...and to distinguish them". After all mledi vindu covers them both, but ambiguously. How about: mledi krasi vindu to explicitly give the latter. "from source/origin" has a lexeme BAI and is probably not needed in the place structure, making the simpler tanru more clear to cover 'fungicide'.]

"Surprise" is a good keyword for .ue, but when you write the dictionary, you should be sure to include the translation of .ue as "even...". My statement of mock mock-humility, "sogar ich kann Fehler machen," becomes mi .ue pu'i srera.

[You are NOT expressing surprise - as you said it is mock humility. Don't 'lie' with attitudinals; if you do, they don't serve their proper purpose. Another culture is perfectly justified at treating them literally. How about .o'anai .ianai. It is longer but clear.]

Now, I have a few suggestions for added cmavo:

  1. "... enough to ...", a modal indicating sufficiency or potential, whether or not realized. [I need an example to tell your exact intent, but I think the existing set will manage it.]
  2. "... such that .../ ... so that .../ ... to the point of ...", a modal indicating actual result. This could be used to translate such tings as "bored to tears," "freeze to death," or Carsonesque "it's so hot, that ..." [ja'e]
  3. "... by ...", a modal to identify the point of attachment; used to translate such phrases as "lead by the nose," "hang by fingernails." [sedi'o] 4) "Heading/Title:", a tag to identify the following text as a heading or title to the body of text following it. The end of the title would be marked by ni'o or any of the mo'o series. As would hopefully be obvious in use, a title before nomo'o applies to entire body of text in question. Likewise before pamo'o unless there is already a title that it becomes a subheading under. Subsequent headings apply only to designated sections of text. This cmavo would share some of the function of ni'o, but apparently require its own lexeme. [This would require a grammar change, and isn't needed. Titles and Headings are metalinguistic, and should be identified as such. Our published examples have shown a couple of ways to do this.]

Now for some gaps I see in the gismu list:

1) When I read your report on Logfest '90, I was amused by a collective blind spot. You make sure all the Terran continents are named, but you don't notice the absence of an adequate generic term. I'm not satisfied with bady- daplu (.a'unai!), and it couldn't be used in lujvo for concepts like transcontinental or intercontinental.
[.a'unai is intended to be repulsion as contrary to interest (negative-interest), and seems strange in this context, but who knows. I would prefer using tumla to daplu, but otherwise see nothing wrong with your lujvo, which can in turn be used with ragve or jbini to get the other two concepts. Not all concepts need to be expressed in only two terms.] 2) Similarly, there is no gismu for forest. A ricygri is a copse, or stand, or clump. Besides, a forest is more than a group of trees; it's an entire ecological community (or megacommunity?). A separate gismu is needed to describe things as sylvan or woodland, or to make lujvo for forestry, woodcraft, or deforestation.
[Depending on your purpose, you could therefore use the most non-specific term: tricu foldi, or for your specific uses tricu ciste, or even tricu cecmu. There needn't be one Lojban term for all uses of an English term. Note that I do not make lujvo at this point. I would analyze the tanru much more careful before doing so.] 3) How does one say galaxy or galactic? A targri is a star cluster, which is a far cry from the huge, orbiting system that is a galaxy. Again, there are concepts like intra-, trans-, and inter-, and extragalactic.
[banli tarci ciste, perhaps. The compounds are used inexactly in English, by the way, so you have to be careful. But they are not everyday words and could easily be 4 or 5 part compounds using kensa where needed.] 4) Going the other way on the size scale, the difference between a village and a town (cmata'u) is qualitative more than quantitative. I can't come up with a lot of lujvo, but it still bothers me.
[You are right - the difference is qualitative. Define the quality and you have your tanru. How about cange zarci tcadu?] 5) I see no way to discuss expectation in a veridical (as opposed to attitudinal) context, whether you mean astrology, meteorology, Wellsian futurology, scientific knowledge such as "I expect a dropped object to fall," or world view such as "I expect children to respect their elders." lujvo include disappoint = expectation-fail, optimist = good-expector, and pessimist = bad-expector (in contrast to xagnalkri, cynic = good-doubter).
[krici (and senpi) are key gismu, with expectation referring to a belief about the future, about fate, or about fortune (balvi, dimna, cunso), depending on degree, intent and scope] 6) In scientific contexts, it would be very helpful to have a gismu for taxon. No, that is not the particle that transmits government extortion; it is a branch/level/division in a system of hierarchical organization. Taxonomy would be taxon-system-study), depending on context, but the primary use would be to de- signate taxonomic levels. Thus, Felideae and Lamiaceae are both examples of family-taxon. This avoids the confusion of trying to back-count the steps from jutsi to kingdom.
[jutsi conveys the series of species within a taxonomic hierarchy, with klesi used in a less rigorous context.]

I could go on, but it's late. Ni'o, . . .

A few of my lujvo that I'm proudest of:

kaurjutsi (kampu jutsi). The place structure is "x1 is the common name used by x2 for the life-form called x3 (Linnaean binomial) by author x4." I expect this lujvo would see more use in classrooms and laboratories than the original gismu. With ki'a and the vo'a series, it's easy to ask questions like "what's the common name for this?" or "who calls it that?" or "what's the scientific name for tapeworm?" An example of usage is: le ricpurdi srasu ku kaurjutsi le merko lai Dactylis glomeratus la lineius i le jipcirjma ku kaurjutsi le brito vo'i (Orchardgrass is the American common name of D. glomeratus [L.]. The Brits call it cocksfoot.)

"le ricpurdi srasu ku" should be "lu ricpurdi srasu li'u" or "la ricpurdi srasu ku", since it's a name. Also, since you are dealing with names, rather than with the classification system, cmene should be the underlying gismu."

relxadba (re xadba). "x1 is the mate of x2". The mnemonic is "pair-half". I originally coined it with gloves, socks, and shoes in mind, but it can easily be extended to animal species which are at least ostensively monogamous, like Homo sapiens.

[I think xadba mapti fits your definition more clearly. Look at the place structures of your underlying gismu, especially the final one that determines the tanru place structure.]

cu'arselgre (cuxna se pagre). "x1 filters x2, stopping x3 and passing x4". The "selective barrier" can be a construct of paper and metal for filtering oil, gas, or air, or a piece of tinted glass for filtering light, or an assembly of components for filtering an electromagnetic signal, an algorithm for filtering input, or a mind-set for filtering perceptions.

My first choice for keywords for tanru and lujvo is 'word cluster' and 'affix cluster'; my second choice is 'modified phrase' and 'modified word'.

[At least one person expressed a preference. Does anyone else care?]

I like the overall setup of kinship terms, including the proposed generics. The '988 panzi is basically included in jbena (if both are viewed tense-free). Inverting and expanding panzi would make it nicely symmetrical to jbena. I think "sire" and "dam" would also be welcome additions.

A good translation of "just married" might be puzize'u speni.

[I'll leave this one for a longer discussion of tenses. Maybe next issue.]

The attitudinals and discursives are both in the UI lexeme. Does this mean that the attitudinals can be compounded with the discursives, or just with each other?

[No rules against it - the line between the two is rather arbitrary, but beware of possible misinterpretations.]

Would it be worth adding another cmavo to have a discursive for "ironically"? If the answer to both of these last questions is yes, then .uecu'i would combine with "ironically" to translate the German discursive "ausgerechnet."

[I don't know the German word, but irony is simply expressed with .ianai, in an otherwise positive claim.]

I propose a new procedure with the names and acronyms of nations and other groups. Each word of the name should be examined to see if it is intrinsically a name, or if it's "just a word." (Yes, I know that this can be an arbitrary distinction.) The names should be rendered phonetically into the best-fit cmene, and the words should be translated and then cmenified. Acronyms should either be the result of this process, or a simple rendition of the acronym from the source language. Thus, we might discuss la ge'oSySySyRur or its Lojbanic equivalent, but not la .ubuSySyRyr. Hopefully, we can be more consistent (with whatever convention) than English speakers. USSR is a translated acronym, but KGB is the acronym of the Russian phrase that means "Committee for State Security." If we're going to keep the original acronym, we might as well pronounce it kah-geh-beh, and leave it in Cyrillic.

Of course, that task requires more lujvo, to translate the various governmental concepts. Republic is easy, that's ka'irtru (krati turni). I've put some effort into coining lujvo for the rest, but it's a challenge to find metaphors which accurately convey the essence of the terms and remain culturally neutral. Confederacy, for example, is listed in most dictionaries as synonymous with federation. The difference is more or less clearly understood, however, by speakers - especially those who take a dim view of central authority.

[The terms are pretty much synonymous, unless you have a context where one was chosen and acquired secondary connotations, as in the U.S. Civil War.]


[John Hodges takes a different perspective on people's reasons for learning Loglan/Lojban (his reasons apply regardless of the language name). His arguments are sound though pessimistic; I feel a little optimism is necessary for anyone to choose to learn an artificial language expecting practical benefit. Nora points out that John and I both have omitted the reason most people who have actually knuckled down and started learning the language - as a linguistic toy, a personal mind expander. This minor, totally impractical aspect may be the spark to get a 'movement' started once we have a larger speaker-base.

from John Hodges, on 'Why Lojban'

I've pondered the subject of "Why Lojban?" We need to provide answers on an individual level, "Why should I study Lojban now?" Lojban may have many uses, but not all of them can be used as reasons for an individual to learn it. E.g. John Cowan's suggestion that L. may be valuable in linguistic research as a case study in the process of creolization. (Though, since creolization is an example of language evolution, it would seem to me for that purpose one would want an evolved language, not a constructed one.)

[Bob: If you have fluent speakers, one would expect the processes of language evolution to be the same.] If there were a sizeable L-speaking community, a researcher might become interested. But I doubt if any individual would learn Lojban in order to improve the opportunities for lin- guistic research into creolization.

The original "basic three reasons" still hold, in varying amounts for different people. The hope that those who think in Lojban will think "better" in some measurable way, more flexibly and/or more logically, is the one that will provide my own motivation. Potential usefulness as a com- puter language may motivate Computer Science researchers. Potential as a Global Auxiliary Language, a "common tongue" to reduce language barriers, may interest some more.

I have written before on the possible aid that the computer-science people could give to the global-common- tongue ideal. Machine translation FROM Lojban TO natural languages would seem much more practical than any other kind of machine translation. It seems to me the project most likely to give tangible results within a small number of years. It is a project that can be worked on by a small number of widely scattered people. It is a project that may be "academically respectable", suitable for theses and grants. It can be done by people who are not terribly fluent in anything but their native tongue. Intermediate results, software that gives bad but decipherable translations, can still be useful as research and as teaching tools. Altogether, in my opinion, enough to give a "reason for existence", or a practical focus, to la lojbangirz. if efforts toward a mass movement fizzle.

Unfortunately, I am not a computer-science person, and I have concluded that I am not likely to become one. My motivation is too weak for the work that would involve, given my starting point. Hence I cannot contribute personally to a machine-translation effort. I am starting out (once more on a new direction, toward graduate study of philosophy, in logic and ethics. My interest in Lojban will be in its potential as a language for thinking clearly in. (Pardon my English.)

The class I taught never got to the "logical connectors", and, or, xor, not, if, because, etc.... I recall you expressing a hope that a parser that could look ahead more than one token might allow a simplification of Lojban's system of logical connectors. Here also, then, the contributions of CS people are of high value.

Lojban's value as a teaching vehicle for Logic, or (perhaps more likely) for linguistics, are potentially reasons for learning Lojban, for those who already wish to learn logic or linguistics. Someone would have to write a textbook on logic or linguistics that used Lojban as such a vehicle. Who knows, I might do that someday. I'll keep it in mind.

I have thought of the appeal of exclusivity and secrecy; given that so few people know this language, hobbyists might use it for private speech or writing. Diaries and intimate conversation... but is that enough motivation for learning a language, even one relatively easy to learn? Codes and ciphers would serve those purposes with less effort. I have thought of calling L. "Dragontongue", recalling my Dad's comment that Lojban looked like nothing human. Fantasy fans might be attracted to it because of that. Again, I doubt this motivation is strong enough.

I have written on the global-common-tongue idea; given start-up-costs, increasing returns to scale, and inertia of established standards, I think our only hope is through machine translation. AFTER a dramatically successful test of Sapir-Whorf, the S-W angle may give us another selling point. Until MT or SW materializes, I think Esperanto owns the field, and even they have a very uphill fight. I think the most-likely-future is for the largest natural languages to grow and consolidate. In areas with a lot of small, fiercely loved ethnic or national languages, AND no clearly dominant existing common tongue, Esperanto will have its appeal to the sensible minority. Barring a sudden global attack of sanity, there will be no global common tongue. But given MT from L. to the largest N natural languages, L. could sweep the field.

[Bob: Following is a last, more scholarly examination of the question of Esperanto and its '16 Rules', written by an expert in the History of Esperanto and International Languages.]

COUNTING THE GRAMMATICAL RULES OF ESPERANTO

Bernard Golden

16 rules - for propaganda purposes only

For more than a century propagandists have tediously and repulsively disseminated the falsehood that the grammar of Esperanto consists of only sixteen rules. Plena Analiza Gramatiko (Complete Analytical Grammar)[1] comments more realistically on the so-called "complete Grammar of Esperanto" which is the title of the sixteen rules in the Fundamenta Krestomatio (Fundamental Chrestomathy): "To want to limit the fundamentals of Esperanto to that scanty grammar and rely exclusively on it in order to discuss the main questions of our language would indeed be an unscientific and infantile attitude" (P. 18). Such a Lilliputian grammar is evidently insufficient for clarification of how the language is used, and it must be completed by rules formulated in other parts of the Fundamento (Foundation of Esperanto) or illustrated by Zamenhof's own usage.

An unsuccessful attempt to estimate the number of rules

To the best of my knowledge the first Esperantist who explored the question of the number of grammatical rules in Esperanto is Douglas B Gregor[2]. He emphasizes that Zamenhof never said that Esperanto has only sixteen rules. It is a question not of sixteen rules but only sixteen descriptive items. "They are simple 16 heterogeneous traits of Esperanto which Zamenhof for some reason wanted to emphasize" (p. 8). Consequently, Gregor gave up trying to ascertain the actual number of rules in Esperanto.

Is it not possible to compare Esperanto, even in an approximate manner, with ethnic languages in order to have an idea of the number of its rules? In the study referred to above, Gregor reports that he made an attempt to compare Esperanto with an ethnic language when he compiled a list of 6000 examples illustrating rules about language usage in Italian, but he did not succeed in drawing conclusions about Esperanto.

Grammars and grammatical compendia

An idea of the magnitude of Esperanto grammar can be acquired from the number of paragraphs or sections in grammatical reference books. For example, Plena Analiza Gramatiko has 436 numbered paragraphs describing the language in detail, but that is a minimum figure for the number of rules because within each paragraph are sections and subsections with discussions of doubtful points and even exceptions not conforming to the published Plena Gramatiko (Complete Grammar). Kalman Kalocsay[3] describes the language in 288 paragraphs in which, just as in Plena Analiza Gramatiko, there are several sections and subsections. Does the figure 288 signify simplification of the grammatical analysis of Esperanto or did Kalocsay omit some rules?

In a manual titled Gramatiko de Esperanto, Miroslav Malovec[4] requires a little over 150 paragraphs and sections to teach the grammar, while Gaston Waringhien's brochure gives a concise overview of the essence of Esperanto grammar in only 66 paragraphs[5].

The Analytic School

According to the doctrine of the Analytic School (Analiza Skolo) founded by Luis Mimo, the ingenious Fundamental set of sixteen rules is incomplete but can be completed by application of logic which determines the structure of the language up to the last detail[6]. Mimo stresses the point that the sixteen Fundamental rules impress learners favorable but they in no way determine how the language is to be used[7].

"Now, the rules not given by Zamenhof, which are immanent in the language, have been given by the Analytic School by means of a systematic analysis and control with the help of the sole means of language analysis, logic, which in every case gives the correct answer; just one, because, already having been provided with its elements, nothing in the artificial language can be capricious" (p. 241).

Mimo's Kompleta lernolibro de regula Esperanto (Complete textbook of regular Esperanto) was published in 1973. It has a 31-lesson systematic grammar, but the presentation is not complete since the second part has not yet been published. Still another one of Mimo's books exists only in manuscript form: Esperanto por la jaroj du mil (Esperanto for the year 2000). Consequently, the number of rules which can arise from the logical analysis of the 16-rule Fundamental grammar by adherents of the Analytic School is not ascertainable.

Conclusion

Even if an investigation were to be undertaken for the purpose of listing each separate illustration of Esperanto language usage (as Gregor did for the Italian language), I have the impression that no two grammarians would induce more or less the same number of rules. The only judicious answer to the question about the number of grammatical rules in Esperanto is that which Gregor gave at the end of his study: "the grammatical rules of Es- peranto are much more than sixteen; however, Esperanto has fewer rules (i.e. items to be memorized) than other languages."

Notes

  1. KALOCSAY, K. and WRINGHIEN, G. Plena analiza gramatiko de Esperanto. 4th edition Rotterdam: Universala Esperanto-Asocio; 1980. 598 p.
  2. GREGOR, Douglas B. Kiom da reguloy vere havas Esperanto? Science Revuo. 1982; 33 (1 [139]): 5-9.
  3. KALOCSAY, K…l…man. Rendszeres Eszperant• nyelvt…n. Budapest: Tankonyvkiad•; 1966. 243 p.
  4. MALOVEC, Miroslav. Gramatiko de Esperanto. Trebic (Czechoslovakia): 1988 102 p.
  5. WARINGHIEN, G. A.B.C. d'Esp‚ranto … l'usage de ceux qui aiment les lettres. Paris: SAT-Amikaro; 1967 74 p.
  6. SULCO, Rikardo (= Richard Schulz). Sur la vojoj de la Analiza Skolo. Paderborno: Esperatno-centro; 1987 278 p.
  7. SULCO, Rikardo (= Richard Schulz). Pledo por unueca lingvo. Paderborno: Esperatno-centro; 1985 287 p.

from David Morrow

[Bob: David was apparently a bit upset at comments from Ralph Dumain on the Lojban community, and at Donald Harlow's comments.]

I am not a "computer nerd" and I am not much interested in science fiction. I am a middle aged blue collar worker, I only own a word processor, and the only fiction I read is usually Middle English or a few types of modern writing that are not speculative. I suspect some Esperantists see a real threat...

[With this, let us end the discussion of Lojban and Esperanto, at least until there are more speakers of Lojban (especially those who know Esperanto as well), who can offer facts and experiences, instead of opinions. Thus: 'n' (the end of 'Esperanto and Lojban discussion')]


le lojbo se ciska

Let's start with some comparative artificial linguistics:

From Nick Nicholas:

A text in Volapk, Esperanto, Ido, and Interglossa. To avoid the usual Pater Noster, I translated a Suzanne Vega song. I do not guarantee my stylistics in Volapk and Ido.

[The Volapk was corrected with the help of Dean Gahlon, and the corrected text with notes from both are found in the text below.]

LANGUAGE (1987)

If language were liquid
it would be rushing in
Instead here we are
in a silence more eloquent
than any word could ever be

Words are too solid
they don't move fast enough
to catch the blur in the brain
that flies by
and is gone

I'd like to meet you
in a timeless placeless place
somewhere out of context
and beyond all consequences

Let's go back to the building
on Little West Twelfth
it is not far away
and the river is there
and the sun and the space
they are all laying low
and we'll sit in the silence
that comes rushing in
and is gone

I won't use words again
they don't mean what I meant
they don't say what I said
They're just the crust of the meaning
with realms underneath
Never touched
Never stirred
Never even moved through

PšK (Volapk, 1879)

If pk „binom-la flumlik[1]
„ininjogom-”v
Plaso is binobs
in stil[2] pk”fikum
ka evelo kanom v”d anik

V”ds binoms tu fimik
no mufoms s„to vifo
al beget”n nekleilati[3] in zebm
kel ailoveflitom ed egolom

Vipob oli kolk”m”n
in top netimik netopik
sem”po pl” zisi„m
„ mov sukads valik

Gegolobs”d in bumot
len Balsetelik Vesda Smast
no binom fagik
e flum binom us
e sol e spads
valik nepleidoms [are unproud]
ed osiedobs in stil2
kel ainingonom ed egolom

No odenugebob v”dis
no maloms kelosi imalob
no pkoms kelosi ipkob
Binoms te lujal si„ma
ko kin„ns diso
nevelo pebemuf”l
nevelo pemuf”l
nevelo s„go pedugol”l

  1. Nick: flumlik - I had vatik, wet [watery]. The original is liquid.
  2. Dean: Your 'neb”set' [here] seems to be a noun form of neb”sik='silence'. My dictionary lists 'stil' as a noun meaning 'silence'.
  3. Dean: interesting formation for 'blur', by the way! Nick: Lit. not-clear-thing. Cf. my Esp maldistintajxo.

LINGVO (Esperanto, 1887)

(An x means that the previous letter has a cap over it.)

Se la lingvo estus likva
gxi enfluegus
Anstatauxe cxi tie ni estas
en silento pli elokventa
ol iam povus ia ajn vorto

Vortoj tro solidas
ili ne movigxas suficxe rapide
kapti la maldistintajxon en la cerbo
kiu preterflugas kaj foriras

Mi sxatus renkonti vin
en sentempa senloka loko
ie ekster cxirkauxteksto
kaj trans cxiuj sekvoj

Ni reiru al la konstruajxo
cxe la Malgranda Okcidenta Dekdua
gxi ne estas malproksime
kaj la rivero estas tie
kaj la suno kaj la spaco
kusxas neefekte [not flashy]
kaj ni sidos en la silento
kiu enfluegas kaj foriras

Mi ne uzos vortojn denove
tiuj ne esprimas kion mi esprimis
tiuj ne diras kion mi diris
Ili estas nur la krusto de la signifo
kun landegoj sube
neniam tusxitaj
neniam perturbitaj
neniam ecx tramovitaj


LINGUO (Ido, 1907)

Se linguo esus liquida
ol enfluegus
Vice hik ni estas
en silento plu eloquenta
kam irgatempe povus irga vorto

vorti esas tro solida
oli ne movas sat rapide
kapti la desdistintajo en la cerbero
qua preterflugas e foriras

Mi amus te renkontar
in sentempa senloka loko
ulube exter kuntexto
e trans omna konsequi

Ni retroirez ad la konstrukturo
che Mikra Uesta Dekeduesma
ol ne esas dista
e la rivero esas ibe
e la suno e la spaco
omni jacas base
e ni sidos en la silento
qua enfluegas e foriras

Mi ne uzos vorti itere
olti ne esprimas quon mi esprimis
olti ne diras quon mi diris
Oli esas nur la krusto dil signifiko
kun landegi sube
Nultempe tusxita
nultempe perturbita
nultempe mem tramovita

Interglossa, ancestor of Glosa, is interesting in that it emulates English & Chinese in having an isolative structure, and jettisoning the parts-of-speech distinctions endemic to flexional/agglutinative lingos. It is essentially Basic English in Greek; there are about 10 verbs, qualified by 'amplifiers' ending in -o. Nouns are made distinct from (presumably) adverbs by being prefixed by a location preposition, a possessive, a numeral, or a 'general article' like all, some, or the default 'u'.

U GLOSA (Interglossa, 1943)

Postulo u Glosa habe liquo;
Re forto kine in.
Na habe loco para vice re
in no-Phono; Su dicte major
de pan Verba u Chron.

Plu Verba habe stereo excesso.
Mu no kine satio celero
tendo u Rapo de no-Luce-re in Cerbera;
Su kine tele in Aero plus apo.

Mi volo habe syn Tu
in Topo minus Topo plus minus Chron,
extra plu syn Logo-re
plus tele pan Sequo.

Peti Na kine verso a mi Cameri
loco micro occidento Via mono du.
Re no habe tele
plus u Potami habe loco apo.
U Heli syn Volumo habe non-alto,
plus na post gene sedi in no_Phono;
Su forto kine in plus apo.

Mi no acte utilo plu Verba itero.
Mu no dicte Re; Mi pre dicte.
Mu no habe u Significo; Mi pre date.
Mu eque no major de Area de Significo[1]
syn plu hypo mega Loco,
zero tem ge acte sensitivo,
zero tem ge micro mote,
cleisto zero tem ge kine trans.

  1. Despite my criticisms: there are some cute syntactic features in this Lingo. Take my translation of with realms underneath: with plural underneath big place.

Ivan Derzhanski supplied a corresponding translation into Intal:

LINGUO (Intal, 1970)

Si le linguo esud likvid it vud influega Vise to yen nos in silentes maks elokvent kam eni vort potud ever es

Le vortos es tro solid
les non mova sat rapid
por kapta le nebulaj nel serber
kel preterfluga e davada

Mi volud vu renkontra
in sintemp sinlok lok
somlok ekstra kontekst
e ultra omni konsekvens

An le Min Oksident Desduesmi
a le konstruktur let nos rivada
non es fern
e le river es ta
e le sun e le spas
les omnos yasa bas
e nos ve sida in le silentes
kel influega e davada

Mi non ve uza vortos plus
les non esprima ko mi esprimed
les non dira ko mi dired
Es nur le krust del sens
kun landegos sube
Nultemp tokat
Nultemp perturbat
Nultemp mem tramovat

Here is Bob's corresponding translation for Lojban. Not only does it allow comparison with the other ALs, but this particular text shows off a lot of features about Lojban. Bob comments on the translation, presents a literal English equivalent, and comments on the effort and its implications for artificial languages.

(Lojban, 1991)

  1. The translation is not quite as literal as Nick's appears to be (not being familiar with the other three ALs). I have tried to maintain a sense of the style, denotation, and connotation, of the words used. However, Lojban is NOT an Indo-European language, and certain things must be rephrased in order to be both (unambiguously) grammatical and to capture the meaning correctly.
  2. Lojban is less tolerant of metaphor than other languages, but does allow analytic metaphors (where the predicate place structures are semantically preserved in the combination).
  3. Nick describes the text as a song. I saw no apparent match in rhythm and/or syllable count between lines of the English and the AL versions. I presume therefore that the translation is in free verse and is not intended to match the music (which I don't know anyway).

mela'e lu bangu li'u ni'o

loi bangu cu litki
.inaja ri sutfle fi ti
.iku'i na go'i
.ili'i nunsma semau ro valsi
temau leka zanselsku

.i loi valsi cu duksligu
.i ri na sutra co banzu
le mu'e kavbu le besysutra
poi sutfau
gi'e ba purci

.i mi djica lenu penmi do
ca noda vi node
ma'inai rodi
ba'o ro jagdimna

.i .e'u mi'o xruti fi le dinju
pe vi la cmalu ke stici gaimoi
.i na'e darno
.i le rirxe cu zvati
.i le solri .e le vanbi
cu no'e se zgana
.i mi'o vu zutse va'o
lei smaji poi sutflefau
gi'e ba purci

.i .ai mi banoroi pilno loi valsi
.i ri na smuni lemi selsmu
gi'e na velsku lemi selsku
gi'e pilka le smuni sekai
le baltutra nenri
poi noroi se pencu
gi'e noroi se jicla
gi'e noroi mecrai se pagre

Following is a literal English translation of the Lojban:

That represented by "Language". New topic.

(The mass of) Language is liquid,
only if it (language) fast-flows to here.
But not-true, the latter.
Abstract-experiencing-of event-of-silence which-is-more-
than each (any) word,
more-in the property of ameliorative(good)-being-expressed.

(The mass of) Words are excess-solid.
They (words) are not quick such-that sufficient
in the abstract-achievement of capturing the brain-quick- thing
which quickly-occurs
and then is-past.

I desire the event of meeting you
during no-when, at nowhere,
according-to-reference-frame none
in the aftermath of all result-dooms.

(Suggestion!) We return (ourselves-elliptical) to the building
which is at that called 'Little type-of West Twelfth- thing'.
Other-than far (it is - elliptical).
The river is at (it-elliptical).
The sun and the environment
are neutrally-other-than observed (neither extreme of observed/non-observed)
We there-yonder sit in-environment
this (mass of) silence which swift-flowingly-happens
and then is past.

(Intention!) I in-the-future-never use (of the mass of) Words.
They (words) do-not mean my thing-meant
and are-not forms-of-expressing my things-expressed
and are skins of the meaning, characterized by
the grand-territory inside
which never is touched
and never is stirred
and never least-superlative passed-through.


Now a note/complaint/what have you which I think is most revealing of the nature and 'neutrality' of the other languages. In the translations of the last verse, specifically:

"I won't use words again they don't mean what I mean they don't say what I say ..."

Nick translated both occurrences of English words 'mean' and 'say' with the same counterpart in each of the other three languages. But the English words do not denote the same thing. When a person says something, it is different from when words say something (in Lojban terms, the human is the expresser x1 of cusku, while the words are the medium of expression x4 of cusku). Likewise, the "meaning" of words is semantically distinct from the "meaning intention" of one who might use the words. This is intuitive to an English speaker, who knows the range of meaning of the words.

If each of the other ALs use the same word to capture both senses of "mean" and "say", then I assert that they are flawed and biased towards English and/or every other language that blurs these distinctions. I suspect that such blurring, if in other languages, will tend to be only in the culturally similar European ones. If Esperanto, Ido, and Volapk all borrowed European roots along with their complete semantic baggage, then those languages are going to be inherently less understandable to a non- European who does not share the cultural background.

This is a particularly insidious kind of bias because, as one Esperantist has pointed out, it seems that both the European and non-European are having 'the shared experience' of acquiring the AL they both learn. But for one learner, it is predominantly a regularized, simplified, form of their own language; for the other, the subtle se- mantics needed for poetry is not shared. (This criticism applies more obviously for BASIC English, since people can easily see the confusing semantic range of the word-plus- preposition combinations that make that language work.)

I do not claim that the difficulty is insurmountable. Certainly non-Europeans have written poetry in Esperanto that was understood and appreciated by Europeans, possibly in a way that is not as easily possible if the European had to learn the native language of the poet, which has a much heavier cultural/connotative load. I suspect that (European) speakers who can converse in Esperanto fluently with non-Europeans, and who therefore are thinking in Es- peranto rather than translating from their native language as they go, have largely bypassed this difficulty.

My points can be summarized as two:

1. I agree with those that criticize ALs implicitly as being languages that people think they know after finishing the textbook.

2. As a corollary, it is a disadvantage for an AL to be 'much like' any other single language in particular. The speakers of that language have either a benefit or a handicap, depending on how you look at it; they have an easier time learning subtle features of the AL and a harder time recognizing the differences that MUST be present for it to be an effective intercultural communications tool. The former is an unfair bias; the latter calls into question whether the AL is suitable as an IL.

Since I lead the Lojban effort, I of course (biasedly?) support Lojban as overcoming these issues. Lojban is just as easy to learn as other ALs with lots of regularity and simplification. But since the language is tied to a predicate grammar strikingly different from any other lan- guage, a speaker translating anything but the simplest statements must significantly reformulate the expression (as shown in the translation above) in order to properly express it in Lojban. The result is easily understood to another Lojban speaker, and indeed in back-translation, is not too difficult in English. But a Lojbanist MUST think clearly about what s/he is saying in order to even say the sentence; those who use other ALs do not necessarily do so. Thus, I think Lojban aids a learner in acquiring the 'different perspective' of a second language, and a Lojbanist who gets by the initial hurdle of unfamiliar words and structures more rapidly acquires that added competence that is considered 'knowing' a language.


A Lojbanic Fairy Tale

by John Cowan

[The following appears to be a lot of text, but it employs the repetition and simple syntax inherent to good fairy tales. Also, since the tale should be recognizable to most Lojbanists, it should be relatively easy to understand from a word-for word translation effort. I have made it still easier, by forcing line breaks at key grammatical boundaries. Give it a try; turn to the English translation later only if necessary.]

la pexykerf. .e le ci cribe vau

ni'oni'o fu'e ka'u le ci prenu cribe cu se zdani

tu'i le tricu

.i le je'a barda cribe po'u la pafrib.

goi ko'a vau

.i le no'e barda cribe po'u la mamrib.

goi ko'e vau

.i le to'e barda cribe po'u la ve'arib.

goi ko'i vau

ni'o ro le cribe cu ponse pa lo citka kabri
.i le ko'a kabri cu je'a barda
.i le ko'e kabri cu no'e barda
.i le ko'i kabri cu to'e barda

ni'o ji'a ro le cribe cu ponse pa lo zutse stizu
.i le ko'a stizu cu je'a barda
.i le ko'e stizu cu no'e barda
.i le ko'i stizu cu to'e barda

ni'o ji'a ro le cribe cu ponse pa lo sipna ckana
.i le ko'a ckana cu je'a barda
.i le ko'e ckana cu no'e barda
.i le ko'i ckana cu to'e barda

ni'o le cribe cu cikna

gi'e tisna le kabri lei cilmo gurni
mu'i le nu citka le pamoi sanmi

.i ku'i lei gurni cu dukse

le ka glare kei le pu'u citka kei
seki'u le zu'o le cribe cu cadzu

.i melbi djedi

ni'o le verba po'u la pexykerf. goi ko'u

cu catlu le nenri be le zdani

.i no prenu cu nenri

semu'i le nu ko'u nenri cadzu

ni'o ko'u zgana le ci kabri .i ko'u xagji

semu'i le nu jdice le nu citka lei gurni

.i pamai ko'u troci citka lei ko'a gurni

.i ku'i ri dukse je'a glare

.i remai ko'u troci citka lei ko'e gurni

.i ku'i ri dukse to'e glare

.i cimai ko'u troci citka lei ko'i gurni

.i ri prane le ka glare

semu'i le zu'o ko'u citka pi ro lei ko'i gurni

ni'o ko'u zgana le ci stizu .i ko'u tatpi

semu'i le nu jdice le nu zutse

.i pamai ko'u troci zutse le ko'a stizu

.i ku'i ri dukse je'a galtu

.i remai ko'u troci zutse le ko'e stizu

.i ku'i ri dukse to'e galtu

.i cimai ko'u troci zutse le ko'i stizu

.i ri prane le ka galtu
semu'i le zu'o ko'u zutse le ko'i stizu
seri'a le nu ri porpi

ni'o ko'u zgana le ci ckana .i ko'u mu'erta'i

semu'i le nu jdice le nu sipna vreta

.i pamai ko'u troci vreta le ko'a ckana

.i ku'i ri dukse je'a jdari

.i remai ko'u troci vreta le ko'e ckana

.i ku'i ri dukse to'e jdari

.i cimai ko'u troci vreta le ko'i ckana

.i ri prane le ka jdari
semu'i le zu'o ko'u sipna

ni'o le cribe cu xruti gi'e djica lei gurni

ni'o ko'a catlu le vo'a kabri

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'a je'a cladu voksa
lu da pu citka piso'u lei mi gurni li'u

.i ko'e catlu le vo'a kabri

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'e no'e cladu voksa
lu de pu citka piso'u lei mi gurni li'u

.i ko'i catlu le vo'a kabri

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'i to'e cladu voksa
lu di pu citka pi ba'e ro lei mi gurni li'u

.i ko'a catlu le vo'a stizu

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'a je'a cladu voksa
lu daxire pu zutse le mi stizu li'u

.i ko'e catlu le vo'a stizu

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'e no'e cladu voksa
lu dexire pu zutse le mi stizu li'u

.i ko'i catlu le vo'a stizu

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'i to'e cladu voksa
lu dixire pu ba'e daspo zutse
le mi stizu li'u

.i ko'a catlu le vo'a ckana

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'a je'a cladu voksa
lu daxici pu sipna vreta le mi ckana li'u

.i ko'e catlu le vo'a ckana

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'e no'e cladu voksa
lu dexici pu sipna vreta le mi ckana li'u

.i ko'i catlu le vo'a ckana

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'i to'e cladu voksa
lu dixici pu je ba'e ca sipna vreta
le mi ckana li'u

ni'o ri'a la'edi'u ko'u cikna .i le cribe cu catlu ko'u

seki'u le nu ko'u bajra cliva

.i le cribe noroi ku'a ba viska ko'u

fa'o

by Sylvia Rutiser

jbobliku

A Letter From Sylvia Rutiser to T. Peter Park

[Translation, commentary, and parse diagram later in the section. This is the uncorrected letter which was actually sent, and has some minor semantics errors, though it should be understandable.]

di'o zoi .kuot. 2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax, VA 22031 .kuot. de'i la'e li so pi'e pa vau
coi doi ti.pitr.
.i la bab. pu cpedu lenu mi cu spuda ledo xatra po le xriso nunsalci
.i loi snime poi puza farlu ku'o ca runme
.i le solri cu gusni ga'a mi
ni'o la bab. puzi te benji le nuzba po'u lenu la .atlstan. goi ko'a pu klama la iutas. fu leko'a karce mu'i lenu ko'a djica lenu tavla le lobypli sedi'o la iutas.
ni'o mi ca troci lenu cilre lo'i cmavo
.i .e'o ko fraxu mi leni cizra gerna po mu'i la'edi'u
ni'o .e'o ledo tcima cu pluka
.i .e'o ko kanro
coi
la silvian.


A letter from Michael Helsem

[Translation, commentary, and parse diagram later in the section.]

de'e fi la maiky'elsym. xatra de'i li pabiki'ofeiki'osono .i coi do'opezi .i .e'a selmi'a minseldunda vau .i .u'use'i ri mleca da poi mi ke'a djica ku'o ri'a lemi bazi mextutra nunli'u .i ni'o mi do ckire le selbei judri be la .atlstan. no'u caze'evu ki'a .i mi ri ba xagdicra la'a pu lemi vuzyseltei .i ni'o di'e cnino ke mitfa'e lerpoi .i lu .ua vibjbi vau li'u zmadu lei mordrata leka plikakne su'omei zo'ope'icu'i .i to'u .a'o sarji balvi snada vau mi'e maikl.


A la lojbangirz. Group Translation Project?

In 1982-1984, Jim Carter wrote extensively in the then- version of Loglan (he claimed an hour a day). Because the language was ill-defined, he used several non-standard usages, and the arguments over these non-standard usages were among the precipitating events for the political squabble that effectively destroyed the Institute (and still haunts us today).

Before this happened, though, he wrote and published several pieces in Loglan, including at least two short stories. These stories were written in the language, not translated from English, although Jim did provide rough translations into English. The two stories, "The Welding Shop" and "Akira" are the most extensive writing ever in Loglan. As original works, they serve as a starting point for a Loglan literature.

Jim has given us copyright release and permission to retranslate or update (or what have you) his texts into the current Lojban, and to use them as the basis for teaching materials and/or a reader. We intend to do so. Or rather, I would like to see you, the Lojban community, make this effort.

This is not a trivial job. Some of Jim's variant constructs were not added to Lojban. Jim tended to use vocabulary based on the old Loglan vocabulary, which was studded with gawdawful tanru. Lojban, of course, has some 40% more gismu and a richer grammar than the earlier Log- lan; hence its expressive power is greater and the phrasing should be changed. Another difficulty factor is length. The stories are not short, running several typewritten pages, perhaps 170 and 90 paragraphs, respectively.

Until the effort is completed, we are asking everyone to try their hand at this. Participate to any extent you choose. Translate a word, a sentence, or the entire paragraph. Even the most novice among you can reinvent a tanru or two.

Send your contribution to us, and we'll collate ideas and print the best result(s). People who submit a full paragraph translation will be given additional paragraphs to work on, and we'll publish these results as well.


Suggestions - please provide an English equivalent for whatever you submit so that reviewers know what part of the text you are expressing, and can check their (and your) understanding. Make tanru or lujvo as you choose. If you don't know how to use rafsi in making lujvo use the ex- panded form of replacing the final vowel of each but the last term with 'y', or even hyphenate the gismu together so we know you want a lujvo instead of a tanru. (An example: rilti-cadzu-bende -> riltycadzybende = marching-band).

Feel free to comment and suggest other conventions. This is an experiment and we don't know the best ways for it to work.

The complete result will be assembled into a story, checked by Jim Carter to ensure he is willing to have his name on the result, and published as a whole. All contributors to the final text will be noted for historical purposes.

The first paragraph of the "Akira" story (which is a sci- ence fiction story of a sort), previously offered to the computer mailing-list "lojban-list", will serve as start- off and example. The process of preparing the paragraph is shown, to give you an idea of what to expect with later paragraphs. The Lojban effort was by Sylvia Rutiser. Since only one person worked on this effort, everyone is invited to comment on the tanru she chose, or to suggest corrections. Then go to work on the second paragraph, which follows thereafter. Deadline for publication submittals is approximately 20 May 1991 (though we'll consider others received later in preparing the final version).


What we're providing: the first paragraph of the Akira story, as translated into English in two styles. The first is roughly identical to Jim's original English translation, and is somewhat colloquial. The second is an attempt to structurally convey Jim's original Loglan (with necessary corrections) in "Lojban-structured" English, the style in which we typically print "literal translations" of Lojban. tanru are literally translated; many or most of these need to be re-invented or at least thought about.


Akira reeled in the fish to his inflatable boat. It was fat, spotted, silvery, and delicious. He put it in his icebox. The oven-like sun cooked his brown skin, and he retired under the canopy. But he suddenly looked up, for something was making a line of smoke through the sky, and suddenly exploded with a flash and a clap of thunder. Someone floated down on a parachute. Akira thought, "Maybe the pilot needs to be rescued." He threw up the kite-sail into the wind and sailed toward him. He thought, "This will make a great (bold) story when I tell it. My young friends will love it."


.akir. (he-5) turn-pull(s) the fish to his-5 air-full boat. It (the fish) is fat and round-marked and silver-like and delicious.

He-5 puts it (the fish) inside his-5 ice-box. The oven-sun cooks his-5 brown skin and therefore- motivatedly recur-self-safe-puts (himself) under the shadow-producer.

Short-time he-5 suddenly up-looks.

Because-motivationally something makes a line which-is smoke through the sky, and suddenly explodes (which-is?) shock-bright and a thunder/lightning-producer.

Something-4 down-float-flies using-tool a fall-cloth.

Said by .akir., who thinks: Perhaps the flyer-driver dangerous-without-makes needingly.

Said by narrator: He-5 throws the flyer-sail at the breeze and sail-goes towards it-4.

Said by him-5: It (the event-just-mentioned = the danger- without-making) will bravely be a history of-something-3 by me.

My young friends will long-time-be-fond-of it-3.

Note: Sylvia says that she is not sure that her tanru/lujvo are the best, and was most dissatisfied by the metaphor for falling by parachute. Feel free to suggest better ones.

Here is Sylvia's text, as submitted uneditted. As printed, it has some semantic errors. After wards, Bob discusses these errors, and suggests corrections. But the text is grammatical, and should be readable without the corrections, especially if you've read the intermediate English above.

la .akir. goi ko'u ca carcpu le finpe seka'a le ko'u varselclu bloti .i ra cu plana je cukselbarna je rijnyska .i ko'u ca punji ri le ko'u lektanxe .i pe'a le toknu solri cu jukpa le ko'u bunre skapi po'a .ije ko'u nitkla le santa mu'i la'edi'u .i ko'u ca catlu fe le gapru mu'i le nu da ca zbasu lo linje pe loi danmo ge'u zi'e noi ragve le tsani .i da ca spoja sekai le ka carmi te gusni gi'e lindi selrinka savru .i de ca masno bukfa'u .i la .akir cu ponse lu lo vijyjatna ca nitcu le nu se sidju li'u .i ko'u ca lafti le falnu vi le brife gi'e fankla ru .i ko'u cu pensi lu lo ca fasnu ba virnu se lisri fi mi .i le'i mi citpendo bazu nelci ri li'u

Now for Sylvia's back-translation of her effort, with comments from Bob. Bob has left some questions open for further suggestions and improvements. The analysis may show that translation is neither a simple, nor an absolutely certain process (but it's a fun way to learn the language).

la .akir. goi ko'u ca carcpu le finpe seka'a le ko'u varselclu bloti
Akira (now called it5) now turn-pulls the fish (with destination it5's air-filled boat).

[Bob: I don't much like "turn-pulls"; if you don't know what it means from context and experience, you'd be unlikely to guess. Lojban has a gismu "jendu" that could be useful. Also the need to use "seka'a" indicates that "turn-pulls" has obviously got the wrong place structure. To make my objection more obvious, here are two alternate sentences with different objects than a fish:

Akira (now called it5) now turn-pulls the knob (with destination it5's air-filled boat).
Akira (now called it5) now turn-pulls the pier (with destination it5's air-filled boat).

These make sense with implication of a totally different meaning of "turn-pulls". Perhaps muvdu would be a useful component of the tanru.

.i ra cu plana je cukselbarna je rijnyska
The-recent-it is plump and round-marked and silver-color.

Since Akira has been assigned to ko'u, ra can only refer to the fish. We need to think about what we want skari to mean. Does "ti skari" mean "This is a color", or "This is colored", or are these the same thing? A safe way would be the tanru "skari rijnysi'a" "colorishly silver-like". Any other ideas? The original had "delicious" as another property of the fish, but this should be easy for someone to fix.

.i ko'u ca punji ri le ko'u lektanxe
It5 now puts last-it at it5's cold-box.

The English uses 'it' here, but for clarity, I would use le finpe instead of ri. Akira probably put it inside, not just "at" the bold-box, but this may be picky. You could add the word nenri to the end to be clear (at the cold-box insides), or use lekseltanxe, putting the fish at the cold box-contents.

.i pe'a le toknu solri cu jukpa le ko'u bunre skapi po'a
Figuratively (the oven sun is a cooker of it5's brown skin ) end figurative.

The whole sentence might be figurative, or maybe just the first tanru; I would take sunburn as a result of sun- cooking skin. Sylvia has marked it correctly for a whole- sentence-figurative. With toknu simsa solri (oven-like sun), the figurative markers would not be necessary.

Nora points out that tanru can be both restrictive and non-restrictive, and prefers an explicit relative clause instead of "le ko'u bunre skapi". The existing text could be taken to imply that the sun cooked Akira's brown skin, but had no effect on the paler portions of his hide; this would be a restrictive interpretation: "le ko'u skapi poi bunre" (it5's skin that is brown. The more plausible interpretation is "le ko'u skapi noi bunre" (it5's skin, which incidentally is brown). If nothing else, this example shows how ambiguous tanru are, and yet how easily they can be diambiguated when necessary.

.ije ko'u nitkla le santa mu'i la'edi'u
and it5 under-comes to the umbrella/shade because of (last sentence).

Sylvia has translated "and" as a logical connective between two sentences. But given that a motivational "because" occurs later in the English, it should probably be reflected in the connective:

.isemu'ibo ko'u nitkla le santa
and-therefore-motivating it5 under-comes to the umbrella/shade.

or even combine the two sentences:

.i le toknu simsa solri cu jukpa le ko'u bunre skapi semu'i lenu ko'u nitkla le santa
The oven-like sun cooks of it5's brown skin, motivating the event of it5 under-comes to the umbrella/shade.

Since the original for the last sumti was "canopy", a more exact tanru might be selctino drudi "shadowing-roof". Other possibilities? "Under-comes" is a bit more limited than Jim's original "recur-self-safe-puts (himself)" - the recurrence and the safety are lost. Can someone do better?

.i ko'u ca catlu fe le gapru mu'i le nu da ca zbasu lo linje pe loi danmo ge'u zi'e noi ragve le tsani
It5 now looks at the up-thing because of something1 now makes a line related to smoke which-incidentally is across the sky.

The fe is superfluous, as is the ge'u; the latter is reasonable though, in that elidable terminators are welcome when they help break up a complex structure.

We're in a narrative. The ca on the bridi therefore means that story-time is the same as the previous sentence. Thus Sylvia's sentence translates as "It5 at the same time looks at ... which is just then making a line ..."

Looking at the original, we can see that a bit is missing:

But he suddenly looked up, for something was making a line of smoke through the sky, and suddenly exploded with a flash and a clap of thunder.

Short-time he-5 suddenly up-looks.
Because-motivationally something makes a line which-is smoke through the sky, and suddenly explodes (which- is?) shock-bright and a thunder/lightning-producer.

"Suddenly" is suksa. Jim's original used "zi" (implying "bazi") where Sylvia used "ca". But one other things is wrong. Akira looks up because of the moving across the sky and the explosion - indeed, it was probably the latter that caught his attention, and he later noticed the line of smoke and inferred the motion from this. Sylvia has exiled the explosion to a separate sentence that has no causal connection to the looking up, and Akira is looking up because of the smoke-line. What she has said makes perfect sense, but is not what the original said.

My attempt (making minimal effort - I could probably do better, but this is your project):

.izibo suksa fa lenu ko'u gapcatlu
.imu'ibo da zbasu lo danmo linji noi ragve le tsani ku'o gi'ebabo spoja sekai le ka carmi te gusni gi'e lindi savru
Shortly, is sudden, the event of it5's above-looking.
This is because of somethingx making a smoke-line, which is across the sky, and-then exploding characterized by intense-illumination and lightning-noise.

Note my non-English phrasing of the first part, due to "sudden" not normally being an English predicate. Note also that "ku'o" that is required to terminate the noi relative clause. Otherwise, the translation would read:

This is because of the event of somethingx making a smoke-line, which crosses the sky and-then explodes characterized by intense-illumination and lightning- noise.

The smoke-line did not explode.

.i da ca spoja sekai le ka carmi te gusni gi'e lindi selrinka savru
Something1 now explodes (with intense illumination) and lightning-caused type of noise.

In Sylvia's version, the sentences should probably be joined with ".ije" to be logically correct, since "da" is by definition a logical variable. Pragmatically, what she did was OK, though - in non-logical argument, a listener would understand that the "da" in both sentences is the same. The "ca" says that this is happening at the same time as the previous sentence (i.e. when something makes a line). It is better left tenseless (the English "and now ..." would typically equate to "and then immediately").

.i de ca masno bukfa'u
Something2 now slowly cloth-falls.

The "ca" again indicates simultaneity with the previous sentence. Jim's original: "Something down-float-flies using-tool a fall-cloth." would be:

.i de nitflevoi sepi'o lo falbu'u

Nora suggests "cloth-brake-fall":

.i de bukyjabre farlu. .i la .akir cu ponse lu lo vijyjatna ca nitcu le nu se sidju li'u
Akira now thinks "an airplane-captain now needs an event of being assisted".

Sylvia has Akira making a bolder guess as to what was flying before it exploded. It may not have been an airplane, and indeed, since this is a science fiction story, I suspect it isn't (I didn't check). Jim's original tanru was "flyer-driver" or volsazri". Again, I think the "ca" is unnecessary, and more Lojbanically unspecified in favor of "cu". Need for assistance is a rather unintense need for rescue, though technically correct (the faller needs assistance in "continuing to live"). Perhaps someone can come up with a better expression (consider "ckape").

.i ko'u ca lafti le falnu vi le brife gi'e fankla ru It5 now lifts the sail at the location of the breeze and sail goes to earlier-it.

Another "ca" - a lot happening simultaneously in Sylvia's story. "de" or "le farlu" are clearer than the vague "ru", which could refer to a lot of things at this point.

Sylvia has misunderstood Jim's description of the means of propoulsion. It is a "kite-sail" which Akira "throws into the wind". This sounds rather exotic, while Sylvia's boat sounds like an ordinary sailboat.

How about something like:

.i ko'u renro le volfalnu seri'a le nu kavbu le ca'erbi'e .i fankla le farlu
It5 throws the flying-sail causing the state of catching the pusher-breeze. Sail-goer to the faller.

.i ko'u cu pensi lu lo ca fasnu ba virnu se lisri fi mi .i le'i mi citpendo bazu nelci ri li'u
It5 thinks "a now-event is going to be a brave story- subject told by me. The set of my young-friends will for a long time be fond of last-it."

This is vaguer than Jim's original: "a now event" vs. "the event-just-mentioned", which, following Akira's thoughts as quoted, is specifically "the rescue". If you take the quotes as literal thoughts, "la'edi'u" is "the event-just- mentioned".

I also have a little trouble with "a brave story- subject", though Jim did something similar to convey "bold story"; if the story-subject is bold, it is probably a person - yet the story is described as about the rescue, not about either the rescuer or rescuee, either of whom could have been brave. I suspect "banli" is better than "virnu" for bold, or at least a compound of the two "vribanli", and modifying "lisri" instead of "se lisri".

"bazu" is not "will for a long time", but rather "will a long time later". I think Sylvia wanted "baze'u" "in the future during a long interval".

Sets do not normally perform actions or have feelings like "being fond of". Sylvia wants a mass "lei" instead of "le'i"

The final "ri" unfortunately refers back to the set of friends, giving us a set noted for self-love (truly unusual in a set). Jim's original assigned the rescue to a pro- sumti somewhere between "di" or "ko'i" (something3/it3), but we are in someone's thoughts here, and I suspect anaphora are not in good order. (It also is unclear whether the friends are fond of the rescue or the story about the rescue in Jim's original.) "The rescue" or "the story" should be used here.


Sylvia's effort was remarkable, given the complexity of the text and that she had little or no help; she did use the old parser to check her work. We are not expecting the average Lojbanist to do this well on a first attempt. Translation is non-trivial as an exercise in language use. Especially when you try to capture the style and sentence complexity of the original, as Sylvia did. Jim did not use trivial grammar in his story. When you first write in Lojban, give it your best shot, but expect to make lots of errors. You'll find yourself learning quickly.

Now, feel free to comment on this text, or even use the pieces Sylvia and Bob came up with along with your own ideas to come up with your own version of the paragraph. Useful comments and a revised translation may appear in next issue. Then brave souls can try all or part of the following, which is the second paragraph of the story. The first version again is colloquial English, and the second, Lojbanized-English, back-translated from the original old- Loglan.


The parachute was floating in the sea, but the pilot was nowhere to be seen. Akira thought, "Maybe he drowned". He pulled the parachute into the stern of the boat, and he discovered a harness containing a radio and a knife and a flashlight. But nobody was wearing it. He called, "Hey, pilot! Where are you? Say something, because I don't see you." But nobody answered.

New paragraph medium-time-offset the fall-cloth floats to the sea. and in contrast the flyer-driver is-not-seen. Said by it5 (Akira): mild-belief (perhaps) it2 past water- breathed. Said by narrator: it5 inside-pulls the fall- cloth to the behind-part of the boat. It5 discovers something1 which incidentally-is-a-joined-garment, one which is joined to a radio and a knife and a hand-light- device. In contrast, no something2 garment-uses something1 (the harness). Said by it5: "Attention the flyer-driver: At where? (Imperative) Cry out and there- fore *motivationally I see you." Said by narrator: In contrast, no *something1 respondingly-talks.

Notes on some errors in Jim's original:

  • The motivational causal seems like the wrong choice of causal. Crying out won't motivate the seeing. But be careful. Other causal choices may be no better, and you may want a non-causal to express Jim's intent by the colloquial English.
  • Be careful of your 'somethings' in this passage; unfortunately Jim didn't. In this particular case, for example, either 1) use a different 'something' than "something1" or "something2", 2) use the UI cmavo that cancels anaphora (but this cancels the it5 assignment too), 3) correctly use .ije between sentences using the same referent of something, 4) or assign a specific "it" instead of a "something".

Finally, here is Bob's quarterly in-Lojban essay. As before, no translation is given; this is the 'prize' that is only for people who dare. (We'll look at and respond to any questions, responses, or translation attempts that you send us, but you have to try first.) Bob is writing directly in Lojban, and trying to 'think in the language' rather than express ideas in English and translate them. The topic this issue turned out to be more timely than Bob thought it would be when he came up with the idea for it several months ago. Enjoy!

ni'oni'o pucaki le prula'i ke xamoi masti ku mi rirci zgana ja pensi le cmene po'u la. ku,EIT. .i mi ca cfari lenu pensi lo sidbo noi binxo co mutce vajni roma'a .ije mi pensi le sidbo noi srana la djim. braun. noi mi sinma .ije mi ca djica lenu ci'arsku le sidbo fu la me <<lu ju'i lobypli li'u>> .i le ki'a sidbo vau

ni'o lu'e le sidbo ca glico jenai lojbo valsi .isemu'ibo mi troci co finti lo jbovla .i .ei le jbovla terfanva "zoi .gic. hero .gic." goi ko'a .i kiku mi ca ciska

ni'o pu pamoi fa lezu'o mi sisku le gicyvla smuni du'o le glico vlamarcku .i mi binxo lo jimpe be leza'i le valsi cu so'imei smuni .i mi ca troci lenu cusku loi smuni gi'e fanva ri la lojban. .ibabo mi ka'e casnu leka la djim. braun me ko'a pe'i .i de'e velsku lei smuni

ni'o pamai le me ko'a mormuprai goi ko'e selranmi gi'e tsali je virnu ke cevni joi nanmu .i remai le gicvla cu smuni roda poi nanmu gi'e tarti le simsa be ko'e

(to .iku'i la xeros. cu ba'e ninmu selranmi fi loi xelso gi'e na'e me ko'a .i le glibau cu ponse le drata je kampu bo krasi valsi poi smuni le ba'e ninmu poi me ko'a .i la lojban. ka'e pilno lo valsi pamei poi smuni le sidbo secau .o'a leka smuni le selcinse toi)

ni'o cimai .uinai le gicyvla cu smuni so'i drata .i smuni roda poi vajni prenu to ji'a cficku rajraipre toi zi'a poi tatmo'a zanmupli prenu zi'a .oi poi nujdja klesi .i le'i smuni cu mutce vrici

ni'o do smuni ma fau lenu do skicu de sepi'o le gicyvla po'u ko'a .i cai na'eka'e jimpe le gicyvla .i mi ba'e na xusra le nu la djim braun. cu nujdja zo'o

ni'o de'u mupli leka lezu'o fanva lo valsi cu mutce nandu .i mi cuxna pa smuni be le gicyvla be'o poi seldji .i mi pilno le jbovla poi velsku le selcu'a smuni

ni'o mi jinvi lenu le vajni sidbo po'e ko'a cu si'o lo prenu cu pijvri tarti .i mi jinvi lenu la djim. braun pu mupli leka pijvritai .iki'ubo tu'e la djim. braun. zivle piso'e leri nunjmive lepu'u finti .i ri ki'u le bangu ka rutni ku to'e tersinma le certu noi la djim. braun. cu nitcu joi djica lenu ke'a sarji tu'u

ni'o ji'a le ca natmi gunma sonci cu mupli leka pijvritai kei fau le jamna be le rakyjecta .i .a'o ma'a selctu fi loika pijvritai gi'e morfu'i tatri bacapiso'iroi le vo'a nunji'e

Translations of le lojbo se ciska

la pexykerf. .e le ci cribe vau
The one named Yellow-hair, and the three bears.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

ni'oni'o fu'e ka'u le ci prenu cribe cu se zdani tu'i le tricu
(New topic) (Open indicator scope) I know culturally: The three person-bears are nested (in a house), associated- with-site the trees.

.i le je'a barda cribe po'u la pafrib. goi ko'a vau
The indeed-large-bear which-is called Father-Bear is assigned as it1.

.i le no'e barda cribe po'u la mamrib. goi ko'e vau
The not-really-large-bear which-is called Mother-Bear is assigned as it2.

.i le to'e barda cribe po'u la ve'arib. goi ko'i vau
The opposite-of-large-bear which-is called Child-Bear is assigned as it3.

"Once upon a time" the three bears lived in a house by the trees, the biggest bear, Papa Bear, who we'll call #1, the medium-size bear, Mama Bear, who we'll call #2, and the smallest bear, Baby Bear, who we'll call #3.


ni'o ro le cribe cu ponse pa lo citka kabri
(New Para.) Each of the bears possesses one of the eating cups.

.i le ko'a kabri cu je'a barda
It1's cup is indeed-large.

.i le ko'e kabri cu no'e barda
It2's cup is not-really-large.

.i le ko'i kabri cu to'e barda
It3's cup is opposite-of-large.

Each bear has a bowl. #1's bowl is large. #2's bowl is medium-size. #3's bowl is tiny.

ni'o ji'a ro le cribe cu ponse pa lo zutse stizu
(New Para.) In addition, each of the bears possesses one of the sitter-chairs.

.i le ko'a stizu cu je'a barda
It1's chair is indeed-large.

.i le ko'e stizu cu no'e barda
It2's chair is not-really-large.

.i le ko'i stizu cu to'e barda
It3's chair is opposite-of-large.

Also, each bear has a sitting chair. #1's chair is large. #2's chair is medium-size. #3's chair is tiny.


ni'o ji'a ro le cribe cu ponse pa lo sipna ckana
(New Para.) In addition, each of the bears possesses one of the sleeper-beds.

.i le ko'a ckana cu je'a barda
It1's bed is indeed-large.

.i le ko'e ckana cu no'e barda
It2's bed is not-really-large.

.i le ko'i ckana cu to'e barda
It3's bed is opposite-of-large.

Also, each bear has a sleeping bed. #1's bed is large. #2's bed is medium-size. #3's bed is tiny.


ni'o le cribe cu cikna
(New para.) The bears are awake

gi'e tisna le kabri lei cilmo gurni
and fill the cups with (some-of)-the wet-grain

mu'i le nu citka le pamoi sanmi
motivatedly-because the-event-of eating the first-meal.

.i ku'i lei gurni cu dukse
However, the grain is excess

le ka glare kei le pu'u citka kei
in the property of warm-ness by-standard the-process-of- eating

seki'u le zu'o le cribe cu cadzu
by-reason-therefore the-activity-of the bears walking.

.i melbi djedi
Beautiful day.

The bears awaken, and fill their cups with porridge in order to eat breakfast. But the porridge is too hot to eat, justifying the bears going for a walk. It's a nice day.


ni'o le verba po'u la pexykerf. goi ko'u
(New para.) The child, who-is called Yellow-hair, assigned to it5

cu catlu le nenri be le zdani
looks at the inside of the house.

.i no prenu cu nenri
No person is inside.

semu'i le nu ko'u nenri cadzu
therefore-motivating the-event-of it5 inside-walking.

The child, Goldilocks, who we'll call #5, looks into the house. Nobody is there, so #5 walks inside.

ni'o ko'u zgana le ci kabri
(New Para.) It5 observes the three cups.

.i ko'u xagji
It5 is hungry

semu'i le nu jdice le nu citka lei gurni
motivating-therefore the-event-of-deciding-the-event-of- eating-of-the-grain.

.i pamai ko'u troci citka lei ko'a gurni
First, it5 tryingly-eats of-it1's grain.

.i ku'i ri dukse je'a glare
But it (the grain) is-excessively-indeed-warm.

.i remai ko'u troci citka lei ko'e gurni
Second, it5 tryingly-eats of-it2's grain.

.i ku'i ri dukse to'e glare
But it (the grain) is-excessively-opposite-of-warm.

.i cimai ko'u troci citka lei ko'i gurni
Third, it5 tryingly-eats of-it3's grain.

.i ri prane le ka glare
It (the grain) is-perfect in the property of warmness.

semu'i le zu'o ko'u citka pi ro lei ko'i gurni
motivating-therefore the activity of it5 eating all-of it3's grain.

#5 observes the three cups. #5 is hungry, and she therefore decides to eat the porridge. First #5 tries to eat #1's porridge, but it is too hot. Second, #5 tries to eat #2's porridge, but it is too cold. Third, #5 tries to eat #3's porridge. It's perfectly warm, and she therefore eats all of the porridge.


ni'o ko'u zgana le ci stizu
(New Para.) It5 observes the three chairs.

.i ko'u tatpi
It5 is tired

semu'i le nu jdice le nu zutse
motivating-therefore the-event-of-deciding-the-event-of- sitting.

.i pamai ko'u troci zutse le ko'a stizu
First, it5 tryingly-sits-on it1's chair.

.i ku'i ri dukse je'a galtu
But it (the chair) is-excessively-indeed-high.

.i remai ko'u troci zutse le ko'e stizu
Second, it5 tryingly-sits-on it2's chair.

.i ku'i ri dukse to'e galtu
But it (the chair) is-excessively-opposite-of-high.

.i cimai ko'u troci zutse le ko'i stizu
Third, it5 tryingly-sits-on it3's chair.

.i ri prane le ka galtu
It (the chair) is-perfect in the property of highness.

semu'i le zu'o ko'u zutse le ko'i stizu
motivating-therefore the activity of it5 sitting-on it3's chair

seri'a le nu ri porpi
causing-therefore the-event-of it (the chair) breaks.

#5 observes the three chairs. #5 is tired, and she therefore decides to sit. First #5 tries to sit on #1's chair, but it is too high. Second, #5 tries to sit on #2's chair, but it is too low. Third, #5 tries to sit on #3's chair. It's perfect in height, and she therefore sits in #3's chair, causing it to break.


ni'o ko'u zgana le ci ckana
(New Para.) It5 observes the three beds.

.i ko'u mu'erta'i
It5 is much-tired

semu'i le nu jdice le nu sipna vreta
motivating-therefore the-event-of-deciding-the-event-of- sleepily-resting-on.

.i pamai ko'u troci vreta le ko'a ckana
First, it5 tryingly-rests-on it1's bed.

.i ku'i ri dukse je'a jdari
But it (the bed) is-excessively-indeed-firm.

.i remai ko'u troci vreta le ko'e ckana
Second, it5 tryingly-rests-on it2's bed.

.i ku'i ri dukse to'e jdari
But it (the bed) is-excessively-opposite-of-firm.

.i cimai ko'u troci vreta le ko'i ckana
Third, it5 tryingly-rests-on it3's bed.

.i ri prane le ka jdari
It (the bed) is-perfect in the property of firmness.

semu'i le zu'o ko'u sipna
motivating-therefore the-activity-of it5 sleeping.

#5 observes the three beds. #5 is very tired, and she therefore decides to rest. First #5 tries to rest on #1's bed, but it is too hard. Second, #5 tries to rest on #2's bed, but it is too soft. Third, #5 tries to rest on #3's bed. It's perfectly firm, and she therefore sleeps.


ni'o le cribe cu xruti gi'e djica lei gurni
(New para.) The bears return and want the grain.

The bears return and want their porridge.


ni'o ko'a catlu le vo'a kabri
(New para.) It1 looks at its cup

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'a je'a cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it1's indeed-loud-voice

lu da pu citka piso'u lei mi gurni li'u
"Something1 ate a-little-of my grain."

#1 looks at its bowl, and says in its loud voice, "Something ate some of my porridge."


.i ko'e catlu le vo'a kabri
It2 looks at its cup

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'e no'e cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it2's not-really-loud-voice

lu de pu citka piso'u lei mi gurni li'u
"Something2 ate a-little-of my grain." #2 looks at its bowl, and says in its medium voice, "Something ate some of my porridge."

.i ko'i catlu le vo'a kabri
It3 looks at its cup

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'i to'e cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it3's opposite-of-loud-voice

lu di pu citka pi ba'e ro lei mi gurni li'u"
Something3 ate ALL of my grain."

#3 looks at its bowl, and says in its soft-voice, "Something ate ALL of my porridge."


.i ko'a catlu le vo'a stizu
It1 looks at its chair

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'a je'a cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it1's indeed-loud-voice

lu daxire pu zutse le mi stizu li'u
"Something12 sat-on my chair."

  1. 1 looks at its chair, and says in its loud voice, "Something sat in my chair."


.i ko'e catlu le vo'a stizu
It2 looks at its chair

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'e no'e cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it2's not-really-loud-voice

lu dexire pu zutse le mi stizu li'u
"Something22 sat-on my chair."

#2 looks at its chair, and says in its medium voice, "Something sat in my chair."


.i ko'i catlu le vo'a stizu
It3 looks at its chair

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'i to'e cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it3's opposite-of-loud-voice

lu dixire pu ba'e daspo zutse le mi stizu li'u
"Something33 DESTRUCTIVELY sat-on my chair."

#3 looks at its chair, and says in its soft voice, "Something destructively sat in my chair."


.i ko'a catlu le vo'a ckana
It1 looks at its bed

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'a je'a cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it1's indeed-loud-voice

lu daxici pu sipna vreta le mi ckana li'u
"Something13 sleepily-rested-on my bed."

#1 looks at its bed, and says in its loud voice, "Something slept in my bed."


.i ko'e catlu le vo'a ckana
It2 looks at its bed

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'e no'e cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it2's not-really-loud-voice

lu dexici pu sipna vreta le mi ckana li'u
"Something23 sleepily-rested-on my bed."

#2 looks at its bed, and says in its medium voice, "Something slept in my bed."


.i ko'i catlu le vo'a ckana
It3 looks at its bed

gi'ebabo cusku sepi'o le ko'i to'e cladu voksa
and then expresses using-tool it3's opposite-of-loud-voice

lu dixici pu je ba'e ca sipna vreta le mi ckana li'u
"Something13 was-and-IS_NOW sleepily-resting-on my bed."

#3 looks at its bed, and says in its soft voice, "Something slept and IS SLEEPING in my bed."


ni'o ri'a la'edi'u ko'u cikna
(New para.) Because of this (it3's looking and saying), it5 is awake.

.i le cribe cu catlu ko'u
The bears look at it5

seki'u le nu ko'u bajra cliva
which-reason-justifies the-event-of it5 runningly-leaving.

.i le cribe noroi ku'a ba viska ko'u
The bears never-intersection-later see it5. This causes #5 to be awake. The bears look at #5, justifying #5's hasty departure. The bears never again see #5.

fa'o
End of text.

The End.


The preceding was among other things an exercise in causal constructions. It is worthwhile to examine closely when each causal was used, and how it affected the translation. Some of the choices were marginal (and some indeed were changed during editing of this text).

Note the insertion of "vreta" with "sipna" in those sentences that refer to the bed being slept on. You don't need a bed to sleep, but you do need to be upon something to rest-on it. Place structures are important in Lojban. (Without the "vreta", sentences translate like "it5 tryingly-sleeps in-some-way-associated-with it2's bed" which gets the point across, but none to exactly. In pragmatic situations, of course, this version would be correctly understood given the context, (which is why guessing at place structures usually works).

One further change would probably be justified, but was not made. Goldilocks, as the story progresses "troci broda" "tryingly-does-something" in John's text. This becomes especially cumbersome with the "sipna vreta" construction, because "troci sipna vreta" groups in pairs from the left, giving "tryingly-sleeps kind-of-rests", losing some symmetry by dividing the "sipna vreta" tanru. To right-group, you need "ke" or "bo":

troci ke sipna vreta
or
troci sipna bo vreta 

which identically mean:

"tryingly sleepily-rests" 

The problem is more easily solved using "co", a word especially valuable with tanru involving "troci", "djica", and certain other words that link actions/events with intentions ('intentional verbs' in English). Inserting "co" inverts the tanru, making it translate much more clearly into English (and probably causing increased clarity in the Lojban as well). This gives the equivalent of:

sipna vreta troci
sleepingly-rests-on attempts

but with the place structure of "vreta", the final element of the tanru, determining the interpretation of the trailing sumti (the bed). The essential claim is that of trying, not of sleepingly-resting, which is the norm with intentional statements. Using "co" preserves "troci" as the essential claim, while allowing access to the trailing place of "vreta":

troci co sipna vreta le ckana
"tries to sleepingly-rest-on the bed"

This change was not made in the story because the vaguer tanru is sufficiently understandable given the context, and we're reluctant to make unnecessary changes in an translator's work. Besides, it gave the opportunity for this mini-lesson in "co". (There is a more clear example of "co" with "troci" given in the next commentary.)


A Letter From Sylvia Rutiser to T. Peter Park

This letter was written about a month before Sylvia's attempt at the Carter paragraph. The difference is plain: she makes a lot of minor word choice errors because she had only just started studying the cmavo.

di'o zoi .kuot. 2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax, VA 22031 .kuot.
At the locus of (non-Lojban) "2904 Beau Lane",

["tu'i" is the correct choice, not "di'o", for location on a letter. Also, to be more correct, "la'e" should be used on the "zoi" quote (giving the thing indicated by the address instead of the address), or optionally the new non- Lojban-name marker "la'o", which has the same grammar as "zoi" - this then treats the address as the name of a location.


de'i la'eli so pi'e pa vau coi doi ti.pitr.
associated-with-date the-referent-of the number 9/1 (9 January), greetings O T.Peter.

Here, the "la'e" isn't needed, since a date is merely a string of numbers. The "coi" greetings here attaches to the "vau" on the previous line, since no ".i" was used between the two lines.


.i la bab. pu cpedu lenu mi cu spuda le do xatra po le xriso nunsalci
The one named Bob requested the event of my responding to your letter which is possessed by the Christ celebration.

"pe" instead of "po" would be more correct, giving the letter "loosely associated with" the celebration.


.i loi snime poi puza farlu ku'o ca runme
A mass of snow which a-while-ago fell, now melts.

I would have used "lei", since she has a specific mass of snow in mind (the stuff on the ground here), but this isn't wrong, and indeed is a good usage of tense.


.i le solri cu gusni ga'a mi
The sun is an illuminator, observed by me. (I can see the sun shining.)

la bab. puzi te benji le nuzba po'u lenu la .atlstan. goi ko'a pu klama la iutas. fu leko'a karce mu'i lenu ko'a djica lenu tavla le lobypli sedi'o la iutas.
The one named Bob just was the origin of transmission of the news which is the-event-of Athelstan (it1) went to Utah via mode his car motivated by the-event-of he desires the- event-of-talking to the Lojban-users at-specific-locus- Utah.

In colloquial English, this is still complicated:

Bob just told me the news that Athelstan went to Utah in his car in order to talk to some Utah Lojbanists. and the sentence could have been simplified a bit to match that colloquial translation. Let's break this sentence up so it is more understandable:

ni'o                                                       
(New paragragh)                                            
la bab. puzi te benji                                      
  le nuzba po'u                                            
     lenu la .atlstan. goi ko'a                            
          pu klama                                         
    	     la iutas.                                     
    	     fu leko'a karce                               
    	     mu'i lenu                                     
    	        ko'a djica                                 
    		     lenu tavla                            
    		       le lobypli                          
    		       sedi'o la iutas.                    
The one named Bob just was the origin of transmission      
  of the news which is                                     
     the-event-of Athelstan (it1)                          
          went                                             
    	     to Utah                                       
    	     via mode his car                              
    	     motivated by the-event-of                     
    	        he desires                                 
    		     the-event-of-talking                  
    		       to the Lojban-users                 
    		       at-specific-locus-Utah.             

The place structure of news includes a source, so the outer-most selbri using "benji" wasn't needed (I'll demonstrate in a moment). It also wasn't the main claim of the sentence, which was the news itself. In addition, "te benji" was a bad choice for Bob: "benji" is a transmission of which this 3rd place is the origin. In this context, Bob is the first place of "benji" - the transmit origin was somewhere in the house in Fairfax VA. A final error is in the places of "nuzba". Sylvia here has equated the news (le nuzba) with the event, which is really "le se nuzba", the 2nd place of "nuzba". Here's Bob's version:

la bab. puzi te nuzba lenu la. .atlstan. pu klama la .iutas. fu lera karce semu'i lenu tavla le lobypli pe la .iutas.
Bob was-just a-source-of-news of-the-event Athelstan went to-Utah in-his-car, motivated-to the-event-of talking-to the Lojban-users of Utah.

Even this non-colloquial translation is only slightly longer than the colloquial English.


ni'o mi ca troci lenu cilre lo'i cmavo (New para.)
I now try the event of learning the set of cmavo.

Using the "co" construction mentioned in "The Three Bears" commentary, this would be:

mi ca troci co cilre lo'i cmavo
I am now a tryer of-type learner-of-the-set-of-cmavo.

Either version is acceptable, and I won't state a preference. Nora prefers Sylvia's version, since it explicitly uses the place structure of "troci", and she prefers to avoid tanru in favor of place structure usage whenever it is not excessively burdensome (and "lenu" is not much longer than "co").

.i .e'o ko fraxu mi leni cizra gerna po mu'i la'edi'u
(Petition!) Forgive me for the-amount-of bizarre-grammar closely-associated-with motivationally because of the referent-of-the-last-sentence (the trying to learn).

Colloquially:

Please forgive me for the bizarre grammar that results from this (trying to learn).

"po" should be "pe"; we usually use "po" for physical possession or a very close association. "pe" indicates a much looser association used with most phrases. Also, I doubt that the bizarre grammar was really motivated by the learning. The learning might be a reason, though:

leni cizra gerna pe ki'u la'edi'u

ni'o .e'o ledo tcima cu pluka
(New para.) (Petition!) Your weather is pleasing.

".a'o" (hope) seems like the more likely attitude, since there is little T.Peter can do about his weather.

.i .e'o ko kanro
(Petition!) Be healthy.

coi la silvian
(Greetings, Sylvia.)

She had not yet learned "mi'e", and greeted instead of parted. A 'correct' letter closer conveying her intent is "co'omi'e" (Partings!, I am ...)

A letter from Michael Helsem

Michael uses much more complex (and bizarre at times) grammar than Sylvia. He asked for a letter of his to be run through the parser, showing the result. I chose a short one that could be easily cleaned up. (The old parser does not properly handle attitudinals and tense compounds, and some newer cmavo, which Michael uses a lot of; therefore I have to manually add the deleted text to the parse output).

de'e fi la maiky'elsym. xatra de'i li pabiki'ofeiki'osono .i coi do'opezi .i .e'a selmi'a minseldunda vau .i .u'use'i ri mleca da poi mi ke'a djica ku'o ri'a lemi bazi mextutra nunli'u .i ni'o mi do ckire le selbei judri be la .atlstan. no'u caze'evu ki'a .i mi ri ba xagdicra la'a pu lemi vuzyseltei .i ni'o di'e cnino ke mitfa'e lerpoi .i lu .ua vibjbi vau li'u zmadu lei mordrata leka plikakne su'omei zo'ope'icu'i .i to'u .a'o sarji balvi snada vau mi'e maikl.

({<[({<de'e [fi (la maiky'elsym.)]> CU <xatra [(de'i {li <[pa bi ki'o fei ki'o so no] BOI>}) VAU]>}
{i <coi [do'o (pe {zi KU} GEhU)] DOhU>} POhO)
(i e'a) ({selmi'a minseldunda} vau)]
[i u'u se'i] [ri CU (mleca {<[da (poi {<mi ke'a> CU djica} ku'o)] [ri'a (le {mi <[ba zi] [mextutra ***ze'i*** nunli'u]>} KU)]> VAU})]>

The ze'i was in Michael's original, was not grammatical nor particularly necessary, so I deleted it.

i POhO}
ni'o {<[({mi do} CU {ckire <[(le {selbei <judri [be ({la .atlstan.} {no'u <[(ca ze'e) vu ki'a] KU> GEhU}) BEhO]>} KU) ] VAU>})
i ({mi ri} {ba <xagdicra la'a [(pu {le <mi vuzyseltei> KU}) VAU]>})]
i POhO>

ni'o <[({di'e CU <[cnino (ke {mitfa'e lerpoi} KEhE)] VAU>}
i {<lu [ua ({vibjbi vau} FAhO)] li'u> CU <zmadu [({lei mordrata KU} {le <ka [(plikakne {su'o mei zo'o pe'i cu'i}) VAU] KEI> KU}) VAU]>})
(i to'u a'o) ({<sarji balvi> snada} {vau <mi'e maikl. DOhU>})] FAhO>})

The following is Michael's intended translation:

This is from Michael Helsem a letter dated 18 November 1990. Hi y'all. Here's some more money. Unfortunately it's less than I would prefer on account of my forthcoming trip to Mexico. Thanks for sending Athelstan's address - he's not still gone is he? I'll get in touch with him maybe before I go... Here's a new palindrome: "Eureka! vagina-near!" - which is a bit more useful than the others of the pattern ...(ahem). Anyway, hope the others come through. Michael.

Of course, intentions are only half the story. Here's how Bob reads the letter:

de'e fi la maiky'elsym. xatra de'i li pabiki'ofeiki'osono ({<[({<de'e [fi (la maiky'elsym.)]> CU <xatra [(de'i {li <[pa bi ki'o fei ki'o so no] BOI>}) VAU]>}
The soon utterances, from Michael Helsem, are-a-letter dated 18,00B,090 (18 million odd in some base greater than 12).

"ki'o" is a 'real number', normally meaning 'thousands' (depending on the normal place for inserting commas), used in writing large numbers. It can also replace 3 zeroes in large numbers such as business reports. Michael wanted "pi'e", the non-decimal separator, giving "18/B/90", where "B" is the non-base-10 digit for 11 (November).

.i coi do'opezi
{i <coi [do'o (pe {zi KU} GEhU)] DOhU>} POhO)
Greetings, you and others who are a short-distance-in-time away from ...

"zi" is used only for distances in time (now); in the past it could be either time or space distance, but this changed when we did the final tense grammar. This isn't necessarily clear in the published cmavo list, and we will be clarifying it in later versions (see also the sheet of changes enclosed with this issue). "vi" is the corresponding space-time distance, but I would prefer "ve'i" (lexeme VEhA) which indicates an interval (you and others in the space around ... [you implied])

.i .e'a selmi'a minseldunda vau
(i e'a) ({selmi'a minseldunda} vau)]
(Permission!) (Observative) Added-things type-of commander- gifts.

No idea about what the attitudinal is, or for that matter, what the sentence means. Given the translation, I might conclude a typo for dinseldunda (money-gifts). This suggests that the money he sent was a donation rather than a voluntary balance contribution (the distinction is important), which is not reflected in the English. (We assumed a balance contribution). "selpleji" (something- paid) would be clearer for a balance contribution, or depending on how you philosophically look at it, something involving "se fatri pagbu" (distributed-part = share)

.i .u'use'i ri mleca da poi mi ke'a djica ku'o ri'a lemi bazi mextutra nunli'u
[i u'u se'i] [ri CU (mleca {<[da (poi {<mi ke'a> CU djica} ku'o)] [ri'a (le {mi <[ba zi] [mextutra ***ze'i*** nunli'u]>} KU)]> VAU})]>
(I regret - self oriented!) The-last-sumti-it (you-and- others-near-in-time) is less than something1 which I, the something, want, less-than because my soon-future Mexican territory (*short-time-interval) event-of-travelling.

I would tend to take self-oriented-regret as an apology to himself, but this is to be determined by usage.

It's clear from the translation that the "ri" was intended to refer to the money-gift, but there is no sumti in that sentence to refer to. "le jdini" or "le selyle'i" would have served. Then, of course, Michael is using a comparison, and should therefore have some reference to amounts, so make that "le ni jdini" or "le ni selyle'i". (Two parallel usages for the comparatives seem to be possible, and equally valid: The amount-of-A is-less-than the amount-of-B in-property-C, by-amount-D, and A is-less- than B in-the-amount-of-C, by-amount-D.)

Michael seems to like SOV (subject-object-verb constructions); very non-English but perfectly acceptable. The something1 must be an amount of some kind.

The "ku'o" was excellent, and grammatically vital. Without it, the "because" would have been attached to the relative clause bridi, involving "djica"; this comes out like "It's less than the amount I want because of my trip.", as compared to his correct "It's less than the amount I want, because of my trip." It's in samples like these that we see how complex language is in general, and thus realize that even a simple language like Lojban requires thought in order to use it.

I have no idea what the intent of the "ze'i" was, but any tense inflections must be before the beginning of the selbri, not in the middle of it. Note that "litru" is any self-movement via a route with no origin or destination implied; it does not mean "travel" in the norma English sense. Normally, you will use "klama" if you are specifically going somewhere. In this case, however, it worked well, since the tanru modifier, Mexican-territory, is a reasonable brief description of the route involved in his intended trip.

.i
i POhO}
And...

It seems clear here that Michael thought you need an ".i" before a "ni'o". You don't, and the parser thinks he had a partial sentence with no body.

ni'o mi do ckire le selbei judri be la .atlstan. no'u caze'evu ki'a
ni'o {<[({mi do} CU {ckire <[(le {selbei <judri [be ({la .atlstan.} {no'u <[(ca ze'e) vu ki'a] KU> GEhU}) BEhO]>} KU) ] VAU>})
(New para.) I to-you am-grateful for-the transferred address of Athelstan, who incidentally is identical to now- for-some-unspecified-time-interval far-from (Please clarify, I'm confused!)

A very strange SOV construction, with two sumti before and one after, not too common in any language that I know of. The relative phrase is perfectly grammatical and even vaguely understandable (I'd have guessed his intent without a translation), but the semantics are all wrong. Michael wanted "ne" instead of "no'u", for a phrasal construction, and "ma" instead of "ki'a" to ask the question:

la .atlstan. ne caze'evi ma
Athelstan, who incidentally is associated with during-an- unspecified-interval-at where

This could still be asking when as well as where, since there is a time and a location tag in the sumti tcita "caze'evi", so even more clear would be:

la .atlstan. noi caze'e zvati ma
Athelstan, who incidentally during-an-unspecified- interval is-at where

None of these is quite the same as his English translation, which was:

Thanks for sending Athelstan's address - he's not still gone is he?

This might best be expressed as:

la .atlstan. noi caze'e zvati tu(pevu) xu
Athelstan, who incidentally during-for-an-unspecified- interval is-at somewhere else (besides where you and I are) (which-is-a-long-distance) Is this true?

In this version, the "pevu" is optional if there was a possiblilty that Michael wanted to differentiate between "still gone in Europe" from perhaps "still gone visiting his family in Baltimore", which would be a kind of "still gone from your nearby presence", implied by the greeting vocative. But I wouldn't be so perverse as to misinterpret him that wildly, would I? (Actually, I might. If you use strange and complex grammatical constructions and semantic usages without mastering the basic ones, I am forced to stretch my mind quite far to try to figure you out.)

.i mi ri ba xagdicra la'a pu lemi vuzyseltei
i ({mi ri} {ba <xagdicra la'a [(pu {le <mi vuzyseltei> KU}) VAU]>})]
I, Athelstan, good-interrupt (Probably!) before my yonder_far-time-interval.

"ri" is correctly Athelstan, though it might not be if some of my various alternates had been used.

I have no idea what his tanru means, and can't even guess how to correct it, except that I strongly suspect that he wanted "zabna" (positive connotation) instead of "xamgu" (good for ...) For his English, I would use "benji", or actually "troci co benji", since he clearly isn't sure he actually can get in touch with Athelstan before he leaves.

The final tanru is understandable after I see his English, not before. Why doesn't he use the plain equivalent of his English: "pu lenu mi cliva". (I repeat my puzi remark about misintepreting strange usages. The burden of communicating, especially in a letter where there is no possibility of immediate questioning feedback, is TOTALLY on the speaker/writer.)


.i
i POhO>
And ...

Another unneeded prelude to a "ni'o".

ni'o di'e cnino ke mitfa'e lerpoi
ni'o <[({di'e CU <[cnino (ke {mitfa'e lerpoi} KEhE)] VAU>}
(New para.) The next utterance is-a newish, identical- reverse, letteral-sequence. (a new palindrome)

Excellent, almost. The following utterance is the entire chunk in the next parse, whereas Michael really wants the first sumti of the next utterance. "vo'a pe di'e" might work.

This is a tricky problem in anaphora choice. Usage - or the logicians - will have to determine whether quotes in a sumti are part of that sumti. "vo'a" could be misinterpreted to include the non-symmetrical quote marks (lu...li'u) in such a metalinguistic reference as this, and these are not part of the palindrome (la'e vo'a pe di'e, maybe?). Perhaps he might have simply put the palindrome in its own utterance, as he promised, and then refer back to it with "di'u" in the following sentence (.i is a sentence separator and is NOT part of the utterance).

.i lu .ua vibjbi vau li'u zmadu lei mordrata leka plikakne su'omei zo'ope'icu'i
i {<lu [ua ({vibjbi vau} FAhO)] li'u> CU <zmadu [({lei mordrata KU} {le <ka [(plikakne {su'o mei zo'o pe'i cu'i}) VAU] KEI> KU}) VAU]>})
"(Discovery!) vagina-near_thing" is-more-than the-mass-of pattern-others in the property of user-ability at-least- some-cardinality-ness (Humor! I don't necessarily opine!).

The palindrome is neat, grammatical and semantically correct, and presumably is a useful comment for a male on the prowl.

Unfortunately, the rest of his sentence isn't clear at all; even with the help of his English it appears that he combined the x3 and x4 places of "zmadu".

I interpret "lei mordrata" to be "things other than palindromes in form", whereas he wants "other palindromes". I would try "mitmo'a drata" ("same-form other-things"). He also may not want a mass. You are more than a mass if you are more than any part of it. (Example: someone of your height is above you when standing on the next higher step of a staircase, even though most of her/his body is below your head.) Masses are funny things that are not semantically-familar to English-speakers; be careful when playing with them. Michael wanted either "ro le drata" (more than each-of the others), or "piro lei drata" (more than all-of the-mass-of others).

Per my above comments on comparison, x1 and x2 of "zmadu" are not amounts, and therefore x3 should be. This suggests "leni plikakne kei" (the amount of user-ableness), or my preference, "leni zu'i ka'e pilno kei" (the amount of the- typical-something being-innately-capable-of-using). The latter makes it clearer that it is the x2 place of "pilno" (by explicitly specifying the x1 as something else) that specifies where the palindrome goes in the leni clause. (Without clarifying, a perverse reader might think this means "the palindrome is more able to use something than other palindromes", which is mind-bogglingly implausible as an interpretation - but certainly within bounds for Michael).

The "su'omei" is not a sumti, and if it were, would need a "kei" on the end of the x3 of "zmadu" (as in my version in the last paragraph) to not be part of the amount. From Michael's English, "li su'o" as x4 would convey his meaning.

Finally, I presume the attitudinals on the end belong on the whole utterance. Where they are, they apply only to the final sumti. In Lojban, you either need to put the attitudinal on the front of the sentence (in this case perhaps unfortunately flagging the humor before making the joke), or putting it on an explicit "vau" at the end of the sentence.

With all these comments, my version of the last two sentences would thus read:

ni'o vo'a pe di'e cnino ke mitfa'e lerpoi. .i lu .ua vibjbi vau li'u zmadu piro lei mitmo'a drata leni zu'i ka'e pilno kei li su'o vau zo'ope'icu'i
(New para. The-first-sumti pertaining-to the-next- utterance is-a new, same-reverse letter-sequence. "(Discovery!) Vagina-near-thing" is-more-than all-of the same-form other-things in-amount-of the-typical being- innately-able-to use (it) by-amount the-number at-least- some (Humor!) (I not-necessarily-opine!)


.i to'u .a'o sarji balvi snada vau mi'e maikl.
(i to'u a'o) ({<sarji balvi> snada} {vau <mi'e maikl. DOhU>})] FAhO>})
In brief, (I hope!) (Observative) Supporter-ly-future success, I am Michael.

Definitely brief. I prefer "ba sarji snada", which is even briefer. Why clutter up a tanru with a tense that can be misinterpreted, when the tense can go in front and be clear?.

Because Michael did not separate the "mi'e" from the preceding with an ".i", it attaches to the vau, in effect making this entire sentence his closing salutation. This is not apparent in his English, but the sentiments seem appropriate to a salutation. Ironically then, his salutation is NOT brief, at least compared to what most others write.

(.i .i'acai I give Michael a hard time in these analyses, but at least he keeps trying, and indeed is improving. Perhaps Michael can forgive me for not doing this kind of analysis on his ever-accumulating poetry (must be over 50 poems so far), and his several long letters (this was only a 5"x8" handwritten sheet, with interlinear translation - Michael has written several-page letters typewritten, entirely in Lojban). Keep it up, Michael (only .e'ocai try some less creative constructions).


Next Issue

Next issue will be much shorter than this one, at least if we want to see a textbook this century. But I'll try to have it out well before LogFest, making a shorter-than- three-months cycle between issues. I would like to have some of your attempts at the translation project paragraphs (or tanru or sentences) before then.

We expect to have more information on our new software products and their prices, and who knows, perhaps a better estimate on the textbook date.

The expected highlight will be John Cowan's "selma'o catalog", a complete listing of each of the selma'o (lexemes/gramemes) with an explanation of how each is used, and LOTS of examples. This will not only be an important addition to the tools available to you as Lojban learners, it will also be a part of the Lojban dictionary - the first part of that work to be completed.

John has given us a draft already - it will probably be longer than the rest of the issue. The text is being extensively reviewed by several people, and even more examples will be added before it is done.


NEWS RELEASE


8 February 1991
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Robert LeChevalier (703) 385-0273

Trademark Office Rules "Loglan" Generic

The U. S. Patent and Trademark Office Appeals Board ruled Tuesday that the name "Loglan" ("logical language") is generic. The Board also ordered cancellation of a trademark registration for "Loglan," held by The Loglan Institute, Inc. of Florida. The summary judgement ruling is a major victory for The Logical Language Group, Inc., a non-profit research group in Fairfax, Virginia.

Basis for the Dispute

Loglan is an artificial language started in 1955 by Dr. James Cooke Brown. After a June 1960 Scientific American article, the language attracted widespread interest among linguists, computer scientists, and the international language movement. Volunteers aided Brown as work on the language continued into the 1980's. Slow progress and internal disputes caused a steady fall-off of support. This trend grew when Brown claimed copyright on the language for himself and his institute.

Major supporters of Loglan founded the Logical Language Group (LLG) in 1987 to reverse Loglan's declining support. Separate from Brown, LLG finished a public domain version of Loglan and promoted its use. The LLG version is called Lojban, based on the word for "logical language" in that version of the language. Facing a loss of control over the language, Brown registered a trademark in "Loglan" in early 1988. The trademark and copyright claims restricted the rights of long-time workers and supporters of Loglan. Many felt the claims a betrayal of earlier promises. A legal battle followed, leading to the present decision.

Importance of Loglan/Lojban

Loglan/Lojban is a written and spoken human language. Its original purpose was research in language and culture. Loglan/Lojban is simple and logical, and has an unambiguous grammar. Thus, computer scientists view Loglan/ Lojban as a likely tool for artificial intelligence research and human-computer communications. Educators believe Loglan/Lojban can be an effective tool in foreign language education. As an artificial language, Loglan/Lojban also attracts followers of the international language movement. This movement seeks a culture-free alternative to languages such as English, and promotes international communication and world peace. The Logical Language Group supports these uses.

People have used Lojban in conversation for over a year; the language was completed in August 1990. Over 100 people are actively studying the language. Hundreds more await a Lojban textbook, expected later in 1991. These people live all over the world, with concentrations in Washington DC, Boston, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Volunteers lead classes and study groups in these and other cities. LLG sells teaching materials, computer programs, and other materials.

Importance of the Trademark Victory

The trademark dispute has constrained LLG in promoting the language. Millions of readers are familiar with the name "Loglan" from magazine articles and science fiction novels. Legal threats from Brown intimidated many people from committing their full support. The ruling frees these people to support Loglan/Lojban without fear of reprisal. The decision also will encourage computer researchers to invest time and money in Loglan/Lojban. Finally, this decision removes a major obstacle to resolving the underlying disputes and reuniting the Loglan effort.

Changes to the Published cmavo Lists


as of 25 February 1991
(Some changes are contingent on approval of John Cowan's proposed grammar baseline changes.)

.uibu	  (BY*)	- assign with meaning "smiley face"
be'u	  (UI)	- assign with meaning "lack/need"; was UNK
		  "lack/need - presence/satisfaction - satiation"
be'ucu'i  (UI*)	- assign with meaning "presence/satisfaction"
		  "lack/need - presence/satisfaction - satiation"
be'unai	  (UI*)	- assign with meaning "satiation"
		  "lack/need - presence/satisfaction - satiation"
bu'o	  (GOhA)  - free (UNK)
bu'u	  (GOhA)  - free (UNK)
ce'i	  (MOI)	- selma'o change to PA;	meaning	changes	to 'percent' as	a number; works	with si'e to form percentages of
		  the MOI variety
co'e	  (DU)	- free (UNK)
denpa bu  (BY*)	- assign with meaning "."
do'e	  (DOhE)  - free (UNK)
du	  (DU)	- selma'o change to GOhA
tedu'o	  (BAI*)  - djuno place	structure change; assign with meaning "under epistemology ..."
fa'anai	  (FAhA*) - meaning corrected to "not towards point"
fau	  (BAI)	- fasnu	place structure	change gives minor meaning change
foi	  (FOI)	- meaning change to "end composite letteral"
gau	  (BAI)	- meaning change due to	place structure	change of gasnu
		  "with	actor/agent ..." case tag
gaunai	  (BAI*)  - "with passive ..." case tag
ge'o	  (BY)	- meaning change to "Greek alphabet shift"; Cyrillic to	ru'o
je'o	  (DU)	- selma'o change to BY;	assign with meaning "Hebrew alphabet shift";
		  was jo'o
jo'o	  (BY)	- meaning change to "Arabic alphabet shift"; Hebrew to je'o
joibu	  (BY*)	- assign with meaning "&"
ka'o	  (PA)	- assign with meaning "imaginary i"; from lu'o;	was UNK
la'o	  (BY)	- selma'o change to ZOI; assign	with meaning "the foreign named"; foreign spelling permitted within
		  quotes
lau	  (LAU)	- meaning change to "punctuation mark/special symbol"
lo'a	  (BY)	- assign with meaning "Lojban/Roman alphabet shift"; replaces nei with meaning clarification; was UNK
lu'a	  (UI)	- selma'o change to LUhI; assign with meaning "the members/components of ..."; old meaning moved to
		  sa'enai
lu'anai	  (UI*)	- free;	old meaning moved to sa'e
lu'o	  (PA)	- selma'o change to LUhI; assign with meaning "the mass	with components	..."; old meaning moved	to ka'o
me'i	  (DU)	- selma'o change to PA;	now "less than"	as a digit
meryru'u bu	(BY*)	 - assign with meaning "$"
ne'o	  (FAhA)  - assign with	meaning	"adjacent/touching"; was UNK
ne'u	  (FAhA)  - assign with	meaning	"directly away from point"; was	UNK
nei	  (BY)	- free (UNK)
re'o	  (REhO)  - free (UNK)
ri'i	  (DU)	- selma'o change to BAI; assign	with meaning "happens to ...; experienced by ..."; lifri modal
ru'o	  (BY)	- assign with meaning "Cyrillic	alphabet shift"; was UNK
sa'e	  (BY)	- selma'o change to UI;	assign with meaning "precisely - loosely"; old meaning moved to	se'e
se'a	  (UI)	- assign with meaning "self-sufficiency"; was UNK; "self-sufficiency - dependence"
se'anai	  (UI*)	- assign with meaning "dependence"; "self-sufficiency -	dependence"
se'e	  (BY)	- assign with meaning "IPA alphabet shift"; from sa'e; was UNK
se'o	  (UI)	- assign with meaning "I know by internal experience" (dream, divine revelation, etc.);	was UNK
sefau	  (BAI*)  - freed by place structure change to fasnu
segau	  (BAI*)  - freed by place structure change to gasnu
tegau	  (BAI*)  - freed by place structure change to gasnu
seri'i	  (BAI*)  - assign with	meaning	"experiencing ..."
si'e	  (DU)	- selma'o change to MOI, with meaning x1 is a n-portion	of x2, where n is a number
slaka bu  (BY*)	- assign with meaning ","
tau	  (BY)	- selma'o change to LAU
te'e	  (DU)	- free (UNK)
tei	  (TEI)	- meaning change to "composite lerfu"
ti'o	  (TIhO)  - selma'o change to SEI
to'o	  (BY)	- free (UNK)
vu'a	  (DU)	- free (UNK)
vu'e	  (DU)	- free (UNK)
vu'o	  (DU)	- free (UNK)
.ybu	  (BY*)	- free;	meaning	assigned to ".y'ybu"
.y'ybu	  (BY*)	- assign with meaning "y"
za'u	  (DU)	- selma'o change to PA;	now "greater than" as a	digit
zai	  (ZAI)	- selma'o change to LAU
zi, za,	zu	(ZA)	 - clarify that	these are scalar distances in time only, and correspond	to lexeme VA for space-
		  time.	 Use ZEHA and VEhA for time and	space-time intervals
net 9 assigned from UNK; 11 freed to UNK