1997 Baseline Announcement

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This announcement followed a successful motion at the 1996 LLG Annual Meeting on August 11, 1996: "To baseline the contents of the Reference Grammar as of December 31, 1996, and all else as of June 30, 1997."

At the 1997 LLG Annual Meeting on August 3, 1997, the declaration of the baseline was amended to recognize the "the reference grammar as submitted to the printer as the embodiment of the December 31st baseline", and to recognize "the gismu, cmavo and rafsi as of October 31st or a date deemed reasonable by the Board of Directors" in place of the originally asserted date of June 30. No date was specified for a baseline of lujvo. The condition for a baseline was redefined to require "Publishing a reference grammar, publishing a cmavo/gismu/rafsi list, a published lujvo list".

The statement and the amendments were formally superseded by the November 28, 2002 Baseline Statement.


ANNOUNCEMENT by Robert LeChevalier President of The Logical Language Group, Inc.

On behalf of the Logical Language Group, Inc. (LLG), I am pleased to announce a major milestone in the 42-year-old Loglan Project.

LLG has now baselined and published electronically a complete reference grammar of the artificial language called at various times "Loglan-88", "Loglan", "Loglan/Lojban", "Lojban - A Realization of Loglan", and perhaps most commonly "Lojban" alone.

>From the standpoint of LLG, THE LOGLAN/LOJBAN LANGUAGE DESIGN is considered COMPLETE upon this baseline. We now enter into the usage phase, and eventually the linguistic research and application phases of the project.

Taken from our introductory brochure, available in full on our FTP and WWW sites (see below), the following states some primary features of the Loglan/Lojban language:

o Lojban is designed to be used by people in communication with each other, and possibly in the future with computers. o Lojban is designed to be culturally neutral. o Lojban grammar is based on the principles of logic. o Lojban has an unambiguous grammar. o Lojban has phonetic spelling, and unambiguous resolution of sounds into words. o Lojban is simple compared to natural languages; it is easy to learn. o Lojban's 1300 root words can be easily combined to form a vocabulary of millions of words. o Lojban is regular; the rules of the language are without exception. o Lojban attempts to remove restrictions on creative and clear thought and communication. o Lojban has a variety of uses, ranging from the creative to the scientific, from the theoretical to the practical.

A small core of people have demonstrated extensive conversational ability in the language, and a much larger group has written in or translated text into Lojban. Much of this substantial volume of text is available in archives on our electronic sites. The base of skilled Lojbanists is international, with representatives from Australia, the UK, Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Argentina, as well as several from the US, counted among the most skilled. There is Lojban "conversation" as well as discussion of the language (in both English and Lojban) on a Listserv mailing list (see below for subscription information).

For historical and other reasons we continue to assert our role as a continuation of the "Loglan Project" started by Dr. James Cooke Brown in 1954, and documented among other places in the June 1960 "Scientific American" article entitled "Loglan". That article stated the primary design goals of the language and reasons why the language effort would be useful. In developing Loglan/Lojban we have striven to remain true to those design goals, and indeed believe that we have succeeded in fulfilling them to an extent far greater than Dr. Brown conceived possible. We continue to use the name "Loglan" with pride, honoring Dr. Brown's seminal ideas.

We regret that Dr. Brown insisted on restrictive claims for control over distribution and use of his earlier versions of Loglan, including a full copyright on the language and its vocabulary. Those claims led the community of Loglan users to unite as the Logical Language Group to redevelop a public domain version of the Loglan language, a process that has taken nearly 10 years and culminates in this announcement. This version of the language is intended to supersede the previous incomplete and restricted-usage versions of the language promulgated by Dr. Brown.

With the approval of the Board of Directors of LLG, as of 0000 GMT on 10 January 1997, the Lojban language design is baselined and frozen for a minimum period in excess of 5 years. We intend that during this period a community of skilled Loglan/Lojban speakers will develop to the point that the role of the organization will be one of documenting, educating and researching the actual use of the language, rather than the prescribing of a language design.

By this act, we make it clear that Loglan/Lojban has ceased to be a "language development project", and instead is now a "language" proper. This transition is vital, since of hundreds or even thousands of artificial language projects, only a few have achieved a stability that has allowed large numbers of people to learn the language. Among artificial languages, only Esperanto and Gode's Interlingua have achieved stability and a solid base of language speakers on a long term basis; other artificial languages continued to be changed by reformers and lost the few speakers who had started to learn the language. We intend that Loglan/Lojban achieve stability and a large international speaking-community, comparable with these relatively stable and successful languages. Potential Lojban students who have waited for a stable language have LLG's formal commitment towards that stability.

The completed Loglan/Lojban design has been documented in the form of a reference grammar, various word lists, a formal grammar processible by the computer parser tool "YACC", and various other teaching materials and material actually written in the language. These documents make Lojban what is probably one of the most thoroughly described of human languages.

The reference grammar, just completed and published electronically with HTML coding on the World Wide Web (WWW) will also be published in hardbound within 2-3 months. LLG is accepting notification requests from those with possible interest in purchasing the book when it is printed.

The completed language design is being turned over to the budding community of Loglan/Lojban speakers and writers for their use and/or application in any way they see fit. The language and language design and certain vital language design documents are being placed irrevocably in the public domain, allowing speakers to use the language for whatever purposes without legal constraint or obligation.

Text written to describe the language design, such as the reference grammar, is being published electronically (and generally in print as well), and is copyright under a liberal license that encourages distribution and translation into other languages. Chapter 21 of the reference grammar contains the formal YACC grammar of the language and is explicitly and irrevocably placed in the public domain.

The following paragraphs provide more detail on the nature of the baseline, and the completion of the reference grammar that made the baseline possible.

Acknowledgment of all who have contributed over the years to this effort is impossible. Hundreds of people have contributed to the technical design of the language, and hundreds more have aided us with commentary and financial support. We make particular acknowledgment to Dr. James Cooke Brown as inventor of the Loglan Project and the language, to Dr. John (Parks-)Clifford, logician and linguist who has guided the most sophisticated portions of the design, to John Cowan, Nick Nicholas, Bob LeChevalier, Nora Tansky LeChevalier for long-term extended support of the design and documentation efforts, to Athelstan, Ivan Derzhanski, Colin Fine, Goran Topic, Sylvia Rutiser, and Jorge Llambias among many others, for pioneering use of the language, to Jerry Altzman and Eric Raymond for making the Lojban mailing list possible, to Veijo Vilva for outstanding development and support of the Lojban WWW site, to Gary Burgess, Tommy Whitlock, Jeff Taylor, and Jeff Prothero for critical early design contributions that made the Lojban redevelopment of the language possible, to John Hodges, Bob Chassell, the late Art Wieners, and a multitude of others, for financial support and efforts in promulgating the language widely. I apologize to the many additional deserved people, unmentioned above, who made this achievement possible.


REFERENCE GRAMMAR STATUS

The final draft of the Lojban Reference Grammar, authored by John Cowan (cowan@ccil.org) has been placed on the Lojban FTP site, at the URL listed below. A copy will be available shortly after this announcement on the Lojban WWW page, and we invite others with language and linguistics pages to add links pointing to (or make copies of) this document and the Lojban language resources. The FTP site will be the authoritative location for the baseline documents.

The text has been turned into HTML format for easier viewing with HTML/WWW browsers and viewers. (Accurate viewing will require an HTML browser that responds to font directives, and will also require the SIL IPA fonts and the Symbol font set for correct viewing of non-ASCII symbols including the IPA symbols for the pronunciation guides.)

There may still be errors in example number reference: specifically, the reference may be to the wrong example number. John Cowan welcomes notification of such problems, as well as typos and any other severe errors at his address (cowan@ccil.org) or via the LLG address below.

The baselined form of the reference grammar is the HTML format version posted at the time that the baseline took effect. With the baseline in effect, only typos, HTML conversion errors, and other severe errors that cause reader confusion which may be identified during the printed book production phase will justify changes to the document. Such changes will be individually documented and made public as a formal change.

We intend that there be no technical changes to the baseline documents during the freeze period.


LEXICON STATUS AND BASELINE

While the Lojban language design is considered complete, the Lojban dictionary has not been completed. As a result, the existing lexicon (consisting of the gismu (root words), cmavo (structure words), rafsi (root affixes for compounding) assignments, and some lujvo (compound words)) is only loosely covered by this baseline. Preliminary forms of each segment of the dictionary are available electronically (via our FTP and WWW sites), making a design baseline feasible and meaningful at this time.

The final baseline of the lexicon, and electronic publication of the dictionary is scheduled for 30 June 1997, approximately 6 months from now. Lexical items used in the reference grammar are of course frozen by the current publication and baselining of that document.

The major purposes for the 6 month delay are

- to provide an opportunity to verify the dictionary text for consistency with the rest of the baseline;

- to standardize and clarify incomplete definitions of cmavo and lujvo.

The amount of documentation change and editing required to complete the dictionary, which is the baseline description document for the Lojban lexicon covered therein, requires that we not call that document "final" at this time. The 6 month delay was therefore approved by the membership of LLG voting at LogFest (our annual meeting) last summer.


5 YEAR MINIMUM DESIGN FREEZE

Following the lexicon baseline, the entire Lojban Language design will not only be complete, but the language definition will be frozen for a minimum period of 5 years, during which period LLG commits itself not to consider ANY change proposals for the language.


DEFINITION OF "BASELINE" AND "FREEZE"

By using the terms "baseline" and "frozen", LLG is stating that during the minimum 5 year period, it will be committed to supporting the language status quo, and will neither propose nor make any changes to the language design as an organization.

LLG will actively seek to expand the Lojban user community, and will encourage that community to actively use the language. That use will likely result in enormous growth of the lexicon using the highly productive methods designed into the language. In addition, usage may resolve hitherto undecided issues, and may bring to light and resolve other issues not yet identified. This growth and evolution will take place informally, and without any restraints from LLG, in the manner of natural language evolution.

Presuming that an active community forms, further language evolution will NOT take place by prescriptive changes produced by the Lojban designers. The language freeze will then last indefinitely beyond the five year minimum period.

LLG's long-term role will be to promote the language and to serve a research and description function in analyzing how Lojban speakers actually use the language.


ALL UNRESOLVED ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED BY ACTUAL USAGE

Design points not covered in the reference grammar and/or the dictionary are intended to be resolved by actual usage, preferably by skilled speakers of the language. LLG may report on such usage when questions arise, but will not rule prescriptively on whether the usage is "correct" or not. If a usage occurs in natural communication and it is comprehended and accepted by other Lojbanists, then the usage is de facto "valid".

Some Lojban supporters have asked that LLG make specific plans for a language review following the 5 year period, that it establish a committee and/or plan a formal procedure for proposing and discussing proposals during that period for consideration and implementation following the period. The LLG Board of Directors believes that this is contrary to the intended purpose of the baseline and freeze, which is to turn over the language to the users of the language, and to remove LLG from ANY prescriptive role which constrains the natural evolution of the language.

LLG makes the commitment, however, that should it ever decide to establish any such procedures after the 5 year period, that all discussions of possible changes will occur solely in the Lojban language, ensuring that only actual users of Lojban will participate in any decision process.

Editors of publications sponsored by LLG shall have their own discretion to accept or reject or edit Lojban text according to their own criteria, which may include conformance with the language prescription. If they do so, however, their decisions will be personal, as individual Lojbanists using the language, and based on their own competence in the language. Editors shall not prescribe language usage on behalf of LLG. Similarly, members and officers of LLG (including myself) who are actively speaking and using the language, may express opinions about Lojban text and issues, but shall do so as Lojban users independent of their LLG roles.


EXPERIMENTAL USAGES

The Lojban design includes language space specifically for trying new ideas in language usage. All cmavo (structure-words) of the form "xVV" are formally undefined, as are all cmavo-form words formed by adding one or more apostrophe and additional vowels onto the currently-used forms VV and CVV. There is also an untested concept for a specific subset of 6 letter fu'ivla (borrowing) space to be used as experimental "fu'ivla gismu"; these would have the ability to be compounded into lujvo (compounds). The lujvo of course would also be experimental.

These experimental word forms may be freely used to experiment with new usages in actual communication. We intend (but will not enforce) that the "xVV" cmavo space be permanently experimental, meaning that if Lojban users wish to adopt an experimental usage that has been found workable, we urge that they choose a cmavo from the longer undefined cmavo space for permanent usage. The very small number of undefined cmavo in the regular cmavo space could also be used, but we urge that they be reserved only for the most useful, widely accepted, and frequently used new ideas.

Likewise, user additions to the regular 5-letter gismu forms are discouraged but no ban will be enforced. LLG intends to independently verify any user-added gismu for consistency with the existing prescription, and will document deviations descriptively, but will not suggest or enforce alterations.

Lojban allows for unrestricted creation of lujvo compounds and fu'ivla borrowings in accordance with rules and conventions discussed in the reference grammar. Users are encouraged to coin new words in these forms as needed in speech and writing.

LLG intends to document new lujvo and fu'ivla that come into use. Consistency or conflict with the lujvo-place structure conventions may be analyzed, but LLG will not suggest or enforce alteration to match the conventions. Recognizing that Type IV fu'ivla are difficult to make with assurance of validity, LLG intends to provide a service to Lojbanists who wish to verify that a proposed word follows the prescription. Individual Lojbanists providing this service on behalf of LLG may suggest alterations, but LLG as an organization will not enforce any changes.

People using Lojban are encouraged to send archives of texts to the LLG address below. This will allow research analysis and documentation of Lojban usages in the text. Labelling the text "nopublic" or "not for public archive" will restrict the text to archives that will be available only to bona fide researchers.


ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING INFORMATION


The LLG e-mail address is:

lojbab@access.digex.net


The Lojban reference grammar and other documents are available at:

ftp://ftp.access.digex.net/pub/access/lojbab/


The Lojban WWW page is located at:

http://xiron.pc.helsinki.fi/lojban/


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