Re: Enhanced Senses (Tangent)

Raymond G. Van De Walker (
Sun, 23 May 1999 23:09:32 PDT

On Fri, 21 May 1999 19:35:06 +1000 "O'Regan, Emlyn" <> writes:
>Of course we are all already quite different, and we already have
>communication difficulties (!). I wonder how this will progress.
>What kinds of answers are there to these problems?
>- Create universal communication formats, fundamental structures for
>ideas and thoughts, which could be interchanged and processed by
>Same drawbacks as normal language, but maybe with less chance of
>up miscommunication. Plus, I challenge anyone to describe such a
>to any useful degree. Come on, you know you want to...

In translation systems there's this idea called a bridge language. Basically, one avoids a combinatorial explosion of translators by translating everything to and
from the bridge language. So, if there are 4 languages (or transhumans) with a bridging system there would be 4 translation systems, rather than 6, with 100 transhumans, there would be 100, rather than 9,900, etc.

The optimal bridge language would be historical, so archiving would be easy.
It would have a well-uinderstood grammar. It should be culturally neutral, and
since we're gonna-be transhuman, we want to say smart things, so we want it to be expressive.

Now at this point, there are three or four classic choices: English, French, Esperanto, and Loglan.

English is good historically, but smacks of cultural imperialism to some people, and
could have a better grammar. Spelling is grotesque. Expressivity is, well, ok.

French has a wonderful history and grammar, (controlled by the Institute Francaise), but, as it happens, I don't like it, even though I can read it. For me, of course, this is conclusive. ;)

Esperanto is a good contender, and the EU automated translation facilities use it as a culturally-neutral bridge language. It's also easy to learn: Even a linguistically lazy (or impaired) person like me could learn it in a less than a year. I had one friend who learned it in a weekend (grr!) Also, if I don't propose this, I may be drawn and quartered by Esperantists, who are, well, sometimes a little -militant- about the language. The cultural icon for Esperantism is a green star, by the way.

-Loglan was invented to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that people can think better in a language that better expresses logic. IMHO Loglan is the most perfectly expressive spoken language ever designed. Not the best, just the most flexible, logical and unambiguous. It has a unique humorous art: One can actually say absurdities such as "John is a short word." That is, John, -the person-, is a short word. Also, one can gleefully confuse nouns and verbs, which don't exist as such in the language. It should therefore be great for bureaucratese, (which of course is likely to be one of the first applications of transhuman intelligence, if the government funds the experiments.)

  1. it contains compoundable regular grammars for almost all common human grammatic features in human languages, as well as all standard symbolic logic. (e.g. quantifiers, conjunctions, time tenses, location tenses, (absent in Indo-european languages, but common in american-indian languages), complex modals like should, would, etc, etc. etc.,)
  2. It makes minimal ontological assumptions (for example, time-tenses are optional, unlike in English, and word-roles are -modifiable- unlike any other language of which I've heard),
  3. it is maximally recognizable: loglan 'predicates' are picked for maximum recognizability in the five languages with the most speakers, (e.g. "blanu" = "x is bluer than y" is a mixture of English "blue", chinese "lan", etc),
  4. It is culturally neutral, since it's all made up.
  5. It is phonemically disambiguated. vowel-consonant order is in regular patterns that always fall into words even when the words are spoken without a pause.
  6. It is grammatically disambiguated. They used YACC (yet another compiler compiler, a UNIX utility for making machine parsers) to find problems.
  7. It is perfectly regular, which increases learnability, and decreases effort.

I love loglan, I wouldn't mind Esperanto or English. If I had to, I'd use French.
But hey, as transhumans, we could probably learn all four in a trice, right? Why
not add Mandarin, as well, and get access to the largest language block, and an ancient history, as well?

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