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Re: [glosalist] Re: Too much plainness

Robin Gaskell (Robin Gaskell <drought-breaker@...>) on February 29, 2004

Saluta Laslo e Holo plu Hetero-pe,

At 08:44 AM 2/23/04 +0100, you wrote:

Saluta Igor, The big problem is that the people generally can’t ride a horse. They either fall to the one side of the horse, or fall to the another side of it. Only a few people can find the middle of the way. *** Yes, it’s a problem with both horses and designed languages: I’d say most people hang on tight to the horse, or language, they’ve got - that is, if they don’t lose their hold, and fall off.

I’m also a speaker of Esperanto. I have no problem to express me even in a very sophisticated mode using that language. Nevertheless I think that Esp. make abuse of ending-formatives. The Esp texts you can read many times slowlier than the English texts. I have made lots of experiments concerning this affair. Spite of my good knowlidge of Esp. I don’t really like it. I’d like to get a language that combines the best features of the experimented planned languages. *** I sympathise with you Laslo, and agree that yet another design specification could be derived, and a better middle way might be found.

And I think, it would be easier to make the best language starting from the Glosa as starting from Esp. *** And I will agree that this is true - for a number of reasons. But I would also question that it was good policy for a different number of reasons. While Glosa might not be the best of all possible languages, and you might actually be the genius to find the language that works best for the greatest number of the world’s population, it seems that you will have an uphill job on your hands finding the people prepared, and able, to work with you to derive the optimal language - whatever its ultimate specification might be. And, on top of that, the members of such a group need to mobilise powerful forces to get the newly designed language, no matter how good it may be, into a trial and promotion situation. I suspect that the majority of people on this List are not actually language developers, and I must say that at 67, I do not have enough good years in me to be there for the long haul - even if such a mid-grey language was developed, and did look like paying off financially. For Glosa to go ahead it needs the input of very creative people writing imaginative instructional material, and it also needs very catchy marketing ideas. That is, with losing no time in development, Glosa still needs the input of massive human potential if it is to get off the ground. But things are slow, and even though Ron and Wendy were a pair of geniuses, still they were unable to achieve a solid result in a quarter of a century. A major problem in the Planned Language business seems to be that there is no money in it; and, no matter how bright the person at the top might be, they still have to rely on volunteers for the development of their creation.

Esp has already a very big amount of fiction and a great number of old lag users, who don’t want any changes while they are living, but the Glosa scarcely has users and fiction, so it’s possibility to be improved is incomparable to the Esp. *** The Esperantists, of course, count their mass of literature including Esperanto originals, plus their armies of fluent speakers, as their major strengths. And in terms of establishment they are right. It is just unfortunate that their foundation stone is so grammatically ornate. I, too, became convinced of the negative value of the “old lag” element when I investigated the Distributed Language Translation project reading, in 1977, a report from 1972 explaining how a computer-based holding language would be based on Esperanto. It would allow the speedy distribution of information around the world via this intermediate, modified Esperanto - to be translated into the various target languages at the consoles of end-users. And they would have had it, too, had not the researchers been brought back into line by the Esperantists demanding a humanly-readably very Esperanto-like “Distributed Language.” With hobbled researchers, and dwindling results, funding for the DLT project was withdrawn around 1980.

My first reaction was to introduce possesive pronouns. But really the Glosa need not it, if it used word class endings. But at this point, you have fallen to the other side of the horse, and protested against to introduce of all kind of endings like in Esp. But nobody were speaking about that. I proposed only endings for the part of speech and nothing more. *** Were I immortal, and the time-scale immaterial, I would seriously look at the possibilities with you. However, I am mortal, and must wonder where the next meal is coming from - before I run out of time, and have no further need for food - or language. I appreciate the Glosa specification, and plan to put any remaining resources I have into promoting and writing for, it. Having observed how long the developmental process takes - using volunteer labour, I would agree that a Glosa Mach IV (of the mid-grey variety) should take no more than five to ten years to reach design completion. Unfortunately, I lack the combination of time and resources to allow me to work full-time on such a project.

   What is even more worrying is the ethical side.  Were such a  development of Glosa possible, and provably beneficial, it should have the  approval and support of Wendy Ashby.  There could be ethical objections to  a hostile take-over bid, no matter how technically superior the resulting  product might be.

Sorry for the capital letters, I only have put a quotation from an earlier message of Robin:


The above opinion is valid even in case of a too plainness expressing. So, either the phrase is too formatived by endings, or it is too plainness, that don’t helps the understanding. *** I had better watch what I say, in case the words be used against me. Seriously, though you are right about “simplicity” in linguistic design brining its own level of difficulty for users. Until one learns the knack of “thinking in Glosa,” the constant mental translations and need for finding the right word, can be so mind-numbing as to stop people from attempting to speak or write in Glosa. One aspect of Glosa’s ‘plainness’ which causes difficulty is the lack of metaphor in Glosa. While there might be a strong case for avoiding non-literal language in a designed language for global use, it does make it hard for the learner, who has to find that one right word to express the required concept. And this is a case for having at least one Greek root and one Latin root for most concepts.

  So, do words function as particular parts of speech because they are  labelled that way, or because of their location in the sentence?  If your  thinking and culture are based on a clearly- labelled language, then you  might have quite a bit of trouble in managing a language whose grammar is  syntax-based.  However, If we did proper scientific trials using  well-written, syntax-based instructional materials, we might find that  speakers whose first language was highly inflected, could discover that  using a very different, but well-taught, language medium was quite refreshing.
    The whole area of Interlinguistics remains inadequately researched.

Even in the English some words are marked by word class endings. It helps you very much on the speedy undestanding. It could give you a larger manner of expressing. It could give you to operate more unimpeded when speaking or writing, while it damaged nothing.

There is not only balack and white, but there is also the gray. *** Mainly adverbs with “-ly” and participles as adjectives , with “-ed” or “-en.” Then there are the category endings like “-ment”, “-er” and “-ite,” but these are like the category affixes of Glosa EG ~-pe.~

   When I visited Professor M.A.K.Halliday years ago, he said, "Yes,  but these designed languages have not had the years of use to knock off  their rough edges."  And I am reminded of this by your mention of the  'gray' of a language that suits all-comers.  All too often designed  languages impose a very narrow regime of grammar, possibly over-inflected,  or seemingly plain by being devoid of inflection.


Robin Gaskell

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Re: [glosalist] Re: Too much plainness - Committee on language planning, FIAS. Coordination: Vergara & Hardy, PhDs.