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William T. Branch ("William T. Branch" <bill@...>) on April 12, 2006
Below is a repeat of text I put at the bottom of a message = to Robin on this board. However, I realized after posting it, it probably s= hould have been addressed to the general board as its own subject since man= y Glosa-pe may not have bothered to scan to the bottom of the previous mess= age.
It is regarding the ideal size of a core vocabulary and why an IAL sh= ould have an extended vocabulary as well.
I suspect there is a good dividi= ng line as well. I devised a thought
experiment to address this after rea= ding Kevin’s site on Glo.
Using a small vocabulary can be burdensome for= the author, but as Kevin
stated, that’s OK because most IAL users read m= ore then they write.
However, at some point as you shrink the lexicon, it= also gets
burdensome to read as well because trying to understand common= ideas
conveyed in the language becomes a constant game of twenty questi= ons.
Where this magic point is should be the point of some research for a= ny
interested IAL developer. It may be as low as Kevin suggests at 500.
Maybe less maybe more.
Kevin mentions how you would address a situation= where you’re talking
about an elephant. You would simply say “very large= grey animal with
long tubular projection from face”. (These are my words= as I don’t have
his website opened.) If you’re going to talk about eleph= ants often, you
would say after the first description to convey what you’= re talking
about, “I will from here on refer to these as tube-faces”
T= his is where my thought experiment starts. Let’s imagine that a
perfectly= wonderful language is developed that can really be learned in
a matter o= f a week or so because the vocabulary is at 500. Anything
written in it c= an be understood by anyone who knows these 500 words.
After much testing = during the design of the language, 500 was the magic
number where the 20 = question game wasn’t over taxing to the reader.
Every work written would= average a number of grey elephant situations
per page, whether a fractio= n or number greater than one. This happens
anyway with works of English p= ushing new territory. (notice my use of
the phrase “grey elephant situat= ion” as an example) Because a lot of
these concepts that must be defined = up front are relatively common, they
will also show up in several other w= orks. All works that mention
elephants will face a similar up-front descr= iption and a simple
reference word for subsequent referencing.
Authors= may be tempted upon seeing several previous works regarding
elephants ju= st to use one of the references without a definition. But
this would be u= sing a word not in the vocabulary. For the IAL to keep
its integrity, the= authors MUST always pre-define all references in
their own work because = they can never assume the reader has read
No real probl= em so far. This happens in all natural languages anyway.
All works speaki= ng of concepts that are likely not to be in the readers
lexicon, the auth= or should be aware enough to define the words that go
with those concepts= .
Being that several different authors would need to define elephants in=
various works, it is likely, even inevitable, that a different compound =
like word would be developed for each work, such as: “tube-nose”
“flopp= y-ear-giant” “thunder-snout” etc. The author and the reader both
know tha= t these words go out of scope at the end of the work.
I imagine a nove= l written in a language of 500 words might end up with a
vocabulary of co= mpound references exceeding the languages vocabulary.
This does represent= a tax on the readers memory. A good author would
have ways to minimize t= his for long works with many references.
One way is to space definitions= so they don’t clump together too
tightly. Another would be to keep using= the long description for awhile
with the corresponding word until the au= thor feels sure the reader will
Regardless of the techniques= the author uses to minimize memory strain,
there will always be some.
A logical step for authors then, in the search for minimizing strain, is
for there to be a standard word list for concepts that regularly pop up.
This does not alleviate the need to pre-define all words in every work
h= owever, because of the possibility that a reader, especially a new one,
w= ill not be familiar with this de-facto word list or previous works with
t= he word. It does however make the memory strain of regular readers
approa= ch zero rather then a constant level of acceptable difficulty for
everybo= dy regardless of how experienced they are.
What this thought experiment = shows is that an IAL with a small
vocabulary - such as Glosa, but especia= lly Glo and Tavo - SHOULD have
both a core and extended vocabulary. The c= ore should be all any reader
should have to memorize up front to read any= text written in the
language meant for auxiliary purposes. Obviously, th= ose writing for
themselves or other writers may use the whole language wi= th no
pre-defining of all extended words.
This is why I think the deci= sion in Glosa to have a core and extended
vocabulary was a good insight. = The real questions are, what is the ideal
size of the core and what words= should go in it?
We know the core must be as small as possible to get p= eople to fluently
read the language ASAP, while not being so small that p= eople are
constantly solving word riddles to figure out what the author i= s talking
I, like Robin, don’t mind synonyms. There are a coupl= e of definitions
for Rabbit in Glosa as well as several others. I think m= any creative
minds would not be attracted to a language without a large l= exicon for
expressiveness. I wouldn’t mind if Glosa had 80,000 words as l= ong as the
core was minimal.
I hope my argument shows that it does not= have to be a question between
IAL and expressiveness. It’s really about = writing in the “IAL style”.
That is; use a small core that everyone must = know and define all words
that are used outside the core within the work.=
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