Re: Universal Translators

Joel \ (
Mon, 11 Nov 1996 10:15:08 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 11 Nov 1996, Lyle Burkhead wrote:

> Walter Wlodarski asks,
> > Do you know someone who tried to construct a language
> > as a tool for thinking?
> One example is Loglan. There was an article about Loglan in
> Scientific American about 1966, and later there was a book about it.
> I don't think it was ever actually used.

> Lyle

Yup, that's a good'un... as well as its more up-to-date cousin called
"LOJBAN." (A websearch on LOJBAN could tell you plenty.) It has been
computer-tested to demonstrate that the language is NON-AMBIGUOUS when
used in its full form. Every verb has a specified syntax for the objects
necessary to detail its action... if an object (or subject) is implied or
ommitted, its absence is immediately noticed. Ambiguity is still
permissable, but simply by ommitting the information.

Similarly, there exists a variant of English called "E-Prime" which is
designed to exclude a lot of amibiguity. It achieves this by removing
the verb "to be." ("E-Prime = English - to_be.") This effectively
eliminates a huge number of oversimplified analogies/metaphores by
demanding more active verbs in descriptions, and kills the passive voice
of the laguage altogether.

Even the language "tlhIngan Hol" ('Klingon') changes thinking by removing
the verb "to be" and eliminating adjectives. Adjectives are replaced
with "active" verbs... a red ship would be "Duj Doq," or more literally
"Ship Be-Red."

David Musick argues that Language is not a vehicle to convey meaning but
a method of provoking response in a meme. But I believe this is not yet
adequate without a little further qualification: Language is a means to
the ends of meaning... Meanings are a means to an ends of Response & Meme.

Words often have a multiordinant nature... some have an explicite
meaning, while others have numerous associations. When a language
effectively redirects meaning, it effectively redirects how we
communicate our meaning or lack of meaning.

Sometimes it is ambiguity itself that we capitalize upon in language.
Many forms of Humor and Irony just don't work without duplicity or

,----.signature-------. Email: / animator
| ________O_________ | WWW: / composer
| / | __ . __ +- | U.S. Snailmail: / illustrator
| || \/ ||(__ | \ \ | Joel "Twisty" Nye / programmer
| | \/\/ |___) \ \/ | 628 Buckeye Street / SF writer
| \_______________/ | Hamilton! Ohio /cyberspatialist
| "From twisted minds | 45011-3449 non-profit organism
`come twisted products"_______________________all_around_nice_guy