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Re: [glosalist]

John Avis (John Avis <jhnavis@...>) on October 9, 2005

— Robin Fairbridge Gaskell <drought-breaker@…> wrote:

At 09:09 PM 10/4/05, John Avis pa grafo:

Mi ne es glosa-pe, sed glosa interese mi.

I write this as an outsider, but I think Glosa could have great potential.

  • So far so good. **A nu fo boni.

Depending on its meaning one word can serve as noun, adjective, verb, adverb and even a preposition - less words to learn. Fine !

  • The inflections, beloved of people who are good at languages, do not suit everybody. Glosa has “Syntax-based Grammar” and thus the sequencing of the words gives the language its grammar. Less words and less inflections: fine!

However, such a language does have its downside. It is very easy to write a sentence that is incomprehensible to the reader. English can do that too, even for native speakers !

  • Quite so. A study of ‘Good Syntax’ seems necessary. With clearly thought-out syntax, the function of each word ought to be clear, and thus, the meaning of the whole sentence should, accordingly, also be meaningful.
I have found most Glosa sentences easy to read, but >some are more difficult to >decipher than Classical Latin. I feel this must put >people off the language. * Usually because the writer has tried to be too  economical with words, and has over-used the few present.

To show what I mean I am using an example text from the Glosa website.

Glosa - puri komunika (Ronald Clark & Wendy Ashby, � GEO, 1996; from the newspaper “Plu Glosa Nota”, ISSN 0265-6892, No. 75, January/February 1996; HTML by Paul O. Bartlett, 1996)

Ex kron a kron uno civi fu protesta; “Sed Glosa feno kopi un English modela; sura id debi difere?”

Panto Cina ami dice iso. Glosa funktio iso Cina lingua.

  • G. Panto Cina ami dice iso. glos. (all China friend say as/the_same ) E. All Chinese friends say the same.
     G.   Glosa funktio iso Cina lingua.
   glos.  (Glosa function as/the_same China language )
     E.   Glosa works the same as Chinese.

In the above example the first sentence is fine. I could read this without having to consult a vocabulary. The words “fu, feno, debi” indicate the verb cluster and the rest of the sentence falls into place.

Not so in the next two shorter sentences. I have no idea where the verbal cluster begins. In the context I think the point is being made that Glosa is similar to Chinese, but not being able to get the exact meaning of the sentences, leaves me in some doubt.

  • Interesting: the idea of a ‘VERB cluster’ seems to have thrown you. The ~iso~ is more of a “verb auxilliary” than anything. In this sentence structure, the ~iso~ is ‘helping’ the VERB ~dice~, so acts as either a Modifier (=adverb) or an Auxillary to the verb. The whole VERB Clause (=verb cluster) would be ~dice iso~. This sentence uses the Intransitive form.

In the first sentence, is the verbal cluster, ‘dice’, ‘dice iso’, or perhaps even ‘ami dice iso’?

  • Running a simple S-V-O test on this sentence, it is:
                    S           -      V
         Panto Cina ami  -  dice iso.         ...OR

   Fancifully, with a three-word VERB Clause

                S          -         V
          Panto Cina  -  ami dice iso.
         ( all  China      love say the-same) [either]  All China loves to say the same. [or]       All China lovingly says the same.

I’d award these sentences a “*” suggesting that they did not go.

Literally the sentence says: “ all china friend say identical”

  • It is a very handy trick to use the glos (direct word translation), either explicitly as I have done here, or in your head - like looking at your cards before working out the value of your hand. NB The simple word-translation dictionary produced by the Glosa authors was all they could afford, but to use it requires imagination.

Assuming that ‘dice’ is the verb, are pan cina ami agreeing with the criticism in the first sentence that Glosa is too much like English, or are they saying that Glosa is like Chinese, which the third sentence seems to say ?

  • Yes, the reported speech is uttered as a criticism. The concluding sentence is an affirmation of the value of Glosa’s syntax. I have communicated with both groups, English-speakers who say Glosa is simply English ‘relexified’, and Chinese-speakers who say they recognise in Glosa the same syntax as in their own language.
  Solution of conundrum:

 Well-written Glosa can usually be  translitterated word for word into English. BUT
 English does not translitterate directly into Glosa.


 Glosa demands the use of correct syntax,  otherwise its 'grammar' does not work!

 In English with its minimal bag of  inflections, and through [sloppy] usage, we get  away with lingustic murder in our syntax.
 The brain recognises utterances in English  as meaningful by seeing the patterns of usage and converting them into meaning.
  In Glosa we have no body of usage to fall  back on, and we must observe the niceties of  proper syntax, otherwise we talk Glosa-Gobbledegook.
  Unfortunately Syntax has not been taught in  schools; fortunately for me, however, I am old  enough to have gone to school in Queensland when  Parsing and Analysis was still being taught in Primary Schools.

  Personal belief:
  By imposing the need for good sentence  structure on its speakers, Glosa ensures much  less ambiguity [and deceit] in in the usage of language.

  Glosa Rules:
 1. A word is modified by its preceding word.
 2. Glosa sentences use Subject-Verb-Object structure.
 3. Within phrases, 'head final" structure applies.

   This last rule says that the major word in  a phrase is the last word of the phrase, and, for  the other words, the least important starts the  phrase, while subsequent words leading to the  major word build up in significance.  This  happens in English with Noun Phrases, e.g.

  the three large fat high-school boys    <try re-arranging the order>

In the third sentence I assume that the verb is either funktio, or iso, or both. I can, I think, get the meaning, but it would be nice to be sure.

  • All language has some fuzziness Glosa just does it differently. But it is annoying all the same.

In the above example it is a just bit annoying, but in a different context it could mean that a reader comes away with totally the wrong meaning, and that is the sort of thing that would put people off Glosa.

  • Yip, creatives like it, but the less imaginitive find it a bit off-putting.

May I, as an outsider, suggest that perhaps a ‘nu’ could be slipped into such sentences to split off the subject cluster from the verbal cluster. The easier it is to read, the more people may want to read it.

  • Such an idea has been put forward. ~nu~ has an exact funtion: it puts things into the immediate present. ~Mi vide an,~ has a different meaning from ~Mi nu vide an.~
If you have this sort of trouble, you could  use ^trainer wheels^ at the start to help you recognise the VERB Phrase.

e.g. Plu tri ju-an /fo hedo voko/ ko plu ridi ju-fe.

  The three boys very happily talked with the laughing girls.

NB The “^” is such an invention to denote the use of non-literal language. It is not supposed to be used in Glosa, but this is a rule which I find unnecessarily restricting.

I have also noticed that there are older versions of the vocabulary in existence, and it is not clear which one you should be using. This is surely not helpful to anyone wishing to learn Glosa.

  • Quite so, but the matter never really got sorted out.

Sorry for the criticism, but it is meant to be contructive. * I think the secret of Glosa is to write clearly and simply, even if it takes a few more words to do so, and that the writer should take care to ensure that the reader will easily be able to understand what has been written.*

  • I call it reading out loud what you have written and seeing if what you hear reminds you of the meant to say. If the answer is ‘NO’, then recast the sentence.

Good luck to pan glosa-pe ! I hope you succeed.

John Avis

  • Thanks John. In a sane world there is a place for Glosa… but we aint got one.

Robin Gaskell

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Thank you, Robin, for your explanation.

My first thoughts were that the two sentences meant what you said and that panto cina ami were agreeing with the criticism in the first sentence.

It was not the “verb cluster” that threw me - what threw me was that I could not believe that panto cina ami could not recognise Chinese syntax in Glosa ! This made me question whether I was translating correctly.

I suppose the answer is that while Glosa is similar to Chinese and English, it not Chinese nor English.

I do not consider myself a glosa-pe as I have made no attempt to learn Glosa, but with a rough idea of its syntax I have been reading it and, as I said, most of the time I can read it easily.

You have left me wondering whether I should make some serious effort to learn it !

Yours, John Avis

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