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Topic: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem (Read 16133 times)

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #25
Not directly related and on a less serious note


Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #26
If you're going to design a universal language, at least pretend that you performed a token analysis of the phonological inventories of a couple of languages from every continent so as to exclude the most problematic ones if nothing else.
I doubt that back in 1887 there was someone concerned with the phonological presence of Africa or Eastern Asia regarding an artificial language.
The objective of Esperanto was to be an easier language that could be learned by everybody, it was not to include little pieces of everybody's languages.

In my opinion, the only real problem that can't be solved regarding Esperanto it's not the linguistic details, it's what we can designate by language imperialism.
Neither Esperanto nor any other artificial language (except those exclusive for deaf or blind people) can overpass it.

A matter of attitude.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #27
I doubt that back in 1887 there was someone concerned with the phonological presence of Africa or Eastern Asia regarding an artificial language.
May I attempt to remove your doubt? Wilhelm Bleek († 1875) compiled the grammar of the language of so-called Bushmen in Africa. By this, all languages of Africa had been described preliminarily (because other Africans were out of the bushes and already in the accounts).

In general, European colonial history somewhat reflects the history of awareness about different languages. By 1887 the whole world had been already colonised a few times over.
 
The objective of Esperanto was to be an easier language that could be learned by everybody, it was not to include little pieces of everybody's languages.
Yet, quite objectively, it looks exactly like made of pieces of everybody's languages (everybody in Zamenhof's neighbourhood, that is). This in itself would not be a problem, but unfortunately the pieces were chosen at random without a sensible guiding principle and they don't fit together.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #28
Not directly related and on a less serious note
Emoticons are effective in expressing something regardless of language.
I recall the Chinese ideographs work like this somehow.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #29
the pieces were chosen at random without a sensible guiding principle and they don't fit together.
Maybe, I don't know.

What I know is that even if I have never learned Esperanto I can understand it very easily.
Kion mi scias estas ke eĉ se mi neniam lernis Esperanton mi povas kompreni ĝin tre facile.

(Google translation)

The above is not a very easy phrase and I can understand it reasonably. Maybe English speakers have more difficulty, I see more French/Portuguese similar things than English. I don't know the pronounce but it doesn't seems to me as English like.
That's more than enough to explain Anglo Saxon definitive rejection to adopt Esperanto.

Course that your objections Ersi are different, your objections are technical.

Emoticons are effective in expressing something regardless of language.
Emoticons are draws, draws always were effective for expression. Remember Lascaux.
A matter of attitude.


Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #31
the pieces were chosen at random without a sensible guiding principle and they don't fit together.
Maybe, I don't know.

What I know is that even if I have never learned Esperanto I can understand it very easily.
Kion mi scias estas ke eĉ se mi neniam lernis Esperanton mi povas kompreni ĝin tre facile.

(Google translation)

The above is not a very easy phrase and I can understand it reasonably. Maybe English speakers have more difficulty, I see more French/Portuguese similar things than English.
Yes, there's similarity with your own language, that's why you are attracted to it. But when there's similarity with your own language, you should be able to logically deduce that there's dissimilarity with other languages, which makes Esperanto not at all a catholic language the way Zamenhof assumed. Estonians and Bushmen cannot like it. A fair universal lingo would cause equal headache and brainbleed for everyone.

See your sentence in Estonian:
Ma tean, et isegi kui ma pole esperantot õppinud, saan ma sellest väga kergesti aru.

I don't know the pronounce but it doesn't seems to me as English like.
But pronunciation is a necessary part of any language (where the tricky bit is phonotactics). As is orthography (where the tricky bit is whether to opt for closer sound-letter correspondence or morphophonological correspondence or maybe a syllabary or hieroglyphs), morphology (where the tricky bit is morphotactics) and syntax (where the tricky bit is how to define word classes and word ordering in the sentence), things that Zamenhof either didn't know about, didn't think about, or thought poorly. And all this was known in European linguistics by Zamenhof's time, a landmark achievement being Grammaire générale et raisonnée (1660) a.k.a. Port Royal grammar.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #32
Rather than objecting to any single phoneme or even the selected set, my objection concerns the principles of selection. I object to the sound system of Esperanto. From the systemic point of view, the sounds fill certain slots in the table and the table is either tidy or messy. Sounds form minimal pairs and sets based on distinct qualities.
Sure, but I'd say that's a different side of (mostly) the same coin. If my selection process consists of: "I like this sound in Dutch, this other sound in French, that sound in Spanish…" you're going to end up with something quite messy. Nevertheless, a phoneme being present only in a very select group of languages certainly provides an argument for its exclusion. I'd be inclined to say that, besides the possibility of nicely filling up a gap in the phonological system, there wouldn't really be much of an argument for its inclusion.

Heck, he didn't even know that n in the word "Esperanto" is a whole different sound than in "blanka".
Wait, what? I'm pretty sure I didn't have to learn that there's a concept called voicing assimilation before I knew that zakdoek is pronounced more like zagdoek…

I doubt that back in 1887 there was someone concerned with the phonological presence of Africa or Eastern Asia regarding an artificial language.
The objective of Esperanto was to be an easier language that could be learned by everybody, it was not to include little pieces of everybody's languages.
I'm talking more about exclusion than inclusion. Incidentally, the same goes for morphosyntactic features. If you take something like Spanish or Italian you're a lot closer to what I have in mind than anything involving your average Slavic or Germanic phonemic system, notwithstanding that I would personally prefer something more Germanic in nature.[1] This applies almost as strongly within Europe, really. So another, derogatory way to describe Esperanto is to say it's Italian polluted with Slavic elements. (My apologies to any Slavic speakers; I like your languages, I really do!) Because let's face it, the Italian phonetic system is relatively easy to use for both Germanic speakers and Slavic speakers while the reverse doesn't apply.

The above is not a very easy phrase and I can understand it reasonably. Maybe English speakers have more difficulty, I see more French/Portuguese similar things than English. I don't know the pronounce but it doesn't seems to me as English like.
That's more than enough to explain Anglo Saxon definitive rejection to adopt Esperanto.
Interlingua is much better at that. With Esperanto I recognize things here and there. Interlingua on the other hand feels like a less complicated version of Latin.

Interlingua es un lingua auxiliar international naturalistic basate super le vocabulos commun al major linguas europee e super un grammatica anglo-romanic simple, initialmente publicate in 1951 per International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA).

Edit: incidentally, YouTube suggested I watch this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btn0-Vce5ug
In other words, if I designed Esperanto the way it appears to have been designed, you'd get something like: "okay, Italian is fairly universal, but I really, really like a bunch of Dutch and German and maybe one or two English sounds… never mind if they fit in there."

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #33
PS Definitely going to read that book now.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #34
A simplificated construct of an universal language has its benefits without any doubt.
However it can never compete whith the diversity and expressiveness of a natural one. To make a harsh comparison - Rembrandt painting vis-à-vis a cartoon.

BTW,
I was never attracted by philology. Even so it happens that I speak a few languages and not all of them are part of the same language family.
There are situations where I would have real difficulties to translate a text while keeping the original context and meaning.
I had once a conversation with a former student of Noica. The first condition to become one of his private students was to learn Greek.
No matter how good a translation is, there is always the risk of something getting lost during translation. The best way to understand an author is to read the text in the language it was written.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #35
I'd be inclined to say that, besides the possibility of nicely filling up a gap in the phonological system, there wouldn't really be much of an argument for its inclusion.
I consider most phonologies in European languages erring towards the baroque side, so I am more prone to minimalism when building something for myself. When faced with an inconsistency in the table, I would rather remove than add stuff.

Wait, what? I'm pretty sure I didn't have to learn that there's a concept called voicing assimilation before I knew that zakdoek is pronounced more like zagdoek...
That would be you, a smart guy. The funny thing is, features like this are abundant and stick out clearly in Russian and Polish, languages that Zamenhof must have been familiar with, yet he still didn't notice it and stated the impossible rule "Every word is to be read exactly as written, there are no silent letters."

A simplificated construct of an universal language has its benefits without any doubt.
However it can never compete whith the diversity and expressiveness of a natural one.
It's also the fact that, no matter how simple, people have to learn it. Learning is hard and people will need a very good reason to do it. Such as being forced to. Or being drenched in it like everybody is in English these days. Only some silly nerds will learn extracurricular things, such as an invented language that nobody uses. There the structure or simplicity or beauty of the language does not matter at all. It matters that nobody uses it, and people learn things only when they need it very badly or they cannot escape it.

The thing is, only cosmopolitans or international erudites need a lingua franca. And since they always needed it, they always had it. The old language of academia was Latin. Later the language of diplomacy was French. Now the international language is English. For smartasses like us, it absolutely does not matter how complicated the language is, we can handle it. That's why no invented language, no matter how simple allegedly, can gain any ground. In fact, "simple" can be taken as something to be frowned upon, certainly among erudites. That's why Latin will always beat Esperanto in terms of actual users. An invented lingua franca could win ground only if there were no lingua franca, but one would be urgently needed, but at all points of history there always was a lingua franca.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #36
In fact, "simple" can be taken as something to be frowned upon, certainly among erudites.
You make an interesting point. Incidentally, I don't know if anything like this went down in the east, but in the 16th century they had a somewhat peculiar view of this concept around these parts. The way we construct sentences in English and Dutch (with location and prepositions etc.) rather than with case markers is simple to us. But of course a "proper", more difficult language like Latin is highly synthetic. In order to fix this "problem", they dug up these case markers from Early Middle Dutch, which therefore stuck with us in our spelling up to the 1940s. Do you spell Dutch the as "de" or "den" (both always pronounced "de" for the past millennium, give or take a few centuries)? You just have to figure out if it's a direct or an indirect object. And that, of course, is how "grammar" doesn't signify an interesting field of investigation to the general population, but the stuff nightmares are made of. :P

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #37
Do you spell Dutch the as "de" or "den" (both always pronounced "de" for the past millennium, give or take a few centuries)?
There's a same kind of detail in Swedish. The equivalents of English "they" and "them" are, respectively, "de" and "dem" in Swedish, but both are pronounced [dom] - and in informal contexts also written this way.

I don't know if anything like this went down in the east,...
Well, one of the developments is shown in the YT video you linked to, concerning Tibetan. Their traditional writing system is rather complicated.

In Chinese the erudite aversion for simplicity has a twist to it. I remember reading about Mandarin[1] that the imperial family tended to streamline (i.e. simplify) the syllable structures in pronunciation[2] and this was highly fashionable, of course, because prestigious people were doing it. The result was that Mandarin now has the least number of possible syllables in its language. Unfortunately, syllable equals word in Chinese, so Mandarin has limited vocabulary in this sense.

Generally, when you have limited vocabulary, there are two possibilities. Either words begin meaning many things (polysemy) or, in case of contact with another language, loans begin flooding in. So, simplified syllable structure and vocabulary would lead to complicated semantics and vulnerability to excessive loans. The latter occurred only moderately in Mandarin, as Mandarin itself was the most prestigious language of the region. Polysemy began to be a pain, but it was mitigated by the writing system. Namely, there's a potentially endless number of hieroglyphs (up to the very limit of possible meanings in language), the hieroglyphs being far more expressive than Mandarin syllables, so educated people could toy with word-sign correspondences to their heart's content. Chinese prose and poetry are allegedly famous for nuance, according to experts, something that I am unable to assess.

This does not apply to other varieties of Chinese, which have more tones and more complex syllable structures. They are sufficiently expressive even when spoken. They don't need auxiliary syllables or token words the way Mandarin needs in order to stay clear in speech. The problem of the other varieties is to resist the influence of Mandarin which tends to replace their pronunciation.

As for writing system, after revolution there was introduced the so-called simplified Chinese. A populist move. This is also quite a story.
Mandarin does not equal Chinese. It's the most important dialect/variety of Chinese, like English is the most widespread Germanic language. But Mandarin has the simplest syllable and syntactic structure, which does not characterise the rest of Chinese - exact same relation as English has to the rest of Germanic family.
The last dynasties were Mongol and Manchu, not Han Chinese, but they adopted the Chinese language. One might guess that they mangled it.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #38
Cont'd storytime on Chinese writing.

When possible syllables are few and a syllable equals a word, then it becomes urgent to make up for the polysemy.[1] Mandarin uses many compounds and auxiliary words[2] to reduce polysemy in speech.

This is how spoken Mandarin evolved, but the writing system with its practically unlimited hieroglyphs did not need such auxiliaries and compounds. Moreover, the earlier stage of the language was free from such auxiliaries, so people sufficiently educated in the literary language continued to write the old way. Besides, writing tends to be universally conservative anyway. Thus there was a gap between the highly compact synthetic writing on the one hand and analytic speech on the other.

To learn Chinese writing is really quite a task. Some characters (hundreds, actually) are simple and they are used in teaching as the beginner's vocabulary to build upon. All the basic hieroglyphs get combined to form new hieroglyphs and they are repeated in or attached to various hieroglyphs in various functions, either to show a meaning-combination[3] or to provide a clue to pronunciation.[4]


In post-revolution simplified Chinese writing, the principle of meaning-combination is drastically reduced, while pronunciation clues are multiplied. Such a move, on the one hand, appeals to popular sentiment by bringing writing to the masses, but on the other, the pronunciation clues of course follow Mandarin pronunciation, so it gets a firmer upper hand over every other spoken variety, and this new writing breaks the continuity with the older literary tradition for absolutely everybody.

Moral: Spelling reforms (and constructed languages intended to become a universal lingua franca) are not a safe game. Some idealist may think that it would be nice to bring writing (or a tongue) to the masses by reforming it to something efficiently learnable, but if this makes older literary heritage inaccessible to the people (which it always does, if such heritage exists), it may end up a cultural disaster. Revolutionary ideologies like to mastermind cultural disasters like this, such as in Russia when all Tatar and Turkic peoples switched from Arabic to Cyrillic and thus lost the connection to their traditional literature, except for the little that got republished in the new writing.
But educated people reportedly, and plausibly, enjoyed making fun of commoners (and of each other) by playing on double/triple/etc. meanings.
Signal words to mark certain syntactic functions apart, such as, a word denoting 'piece' to introduce things and persons to distinguish them from abstracts and actions (our verbs), which had their own markers. In Mandarin you allegedly cannot say 'one man', but mostly you have to say 'one piece man'. In their speech some of these auxiliaries work like caps and punctuation in our writing.
For example, when the signs for 'sun' and 'moon' are combined, they denote the meaning 'bright', which in pronunciation is another distinct word different from both 'sun' and 'moon'. These meaning-combinations in writing are called logical compounds, even though they have logic to them only in very primitive sense.
A clue to pronunciation in Chinese writing works as follows. A basic hieroglyph is taken for its pronunciation, not for its meaning, and is attached to other hieroglyphs. The result is pronounced the same way as the basic hieroglyph, but other glyphs in the sign show that its meaning is different. These are called phonetic compounds. I borrow these examples from Bernhard Karlgren.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #39
[dumb question]Isn't "ideograph" more suited to Chinese writings, while "hieroglyph" is usually related to ancient Egyptian carvings?[/dumb question]

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #40
Not too dumb a question. But it's called ideogram. (I often make the same mistake with holograph/hologram - in English.)

These things come in degrees or layers:

- pictogram
- ideogram
- hieroglyph
- syllabary characters
- abjad characters/letters
- alphabet characters/letters

The last has the closest (potential to represent) sound-to-character correspondence. A syllabary is concerned with syllable-to-character correspondence.

Hieroglyph is a complex term. It denotes a writing system where characters involve or have involved images of things. However, as writing (distinct from imagery), they do not represent things, but syllables/words.

Egyptian writing system evolved from hieroglyphs to an alphabet/abjad. It's totally awesome how this history can be observed.

Chinese writing system, due to the typological nature of Chinese language (namely, syllable = word), can be thought to be close to ideogram (character = concept), but given the multiplicity of auxiliary syllables in Mandarin (i.e. syllables with syntactic or even morphotactic functions rather than semantic), it's not quite so.

A pure ideogram, truly representing a recognisable concept, would be admirably free from attachment to any specific language. It would be a simple instantly recognisable picture, such as the pedestrian crossing sign. Chinese writing system does not quite involve images like this anymore, but it still has the potential to suit very different spoken varieties. Chinese was historically used to write Vietnamese. This was handily achieved because Vietnamese has the same typological nature as Chinese. Chinese characters can only be adapted with difficulty to other types of languages. They somewhat participate in Korean and Japanese hybrid writing systems.

When the distinction of ideogram and hieroglyph is not important (and it normally isn't), it's quite tolerable to use 'hieroglyph' as the more general concept and as a more recognisable word. This is my expert opinion.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #41
There's a same kind of detail in Swedish. The equivalents of English "they" and "them" are, respectively, "de" and "dem" in Swedish, but both are pronounced [dom] - and in informal contexts also written this way.
Luckily, the meaningless detail was phased out in… I believe 1948. ;)

To learn Chinese writing is really quite a task. Some characters (hundreds, actually) are simple and they are used in teaching as the beginner's vocabulary to build upon. All the basic hieroglyphs get combined to form new hieroglyphs and they are repeated in or attached to various hieroglyphs in various functions, either to show a meaning-combination[3] or to provide a clue to pronunciation.[4]
If you're not familiar with it yet, take a look at Language Log. Victor Mair wrote more than a multitude of posts on that subject.

Edit: this might be a decent start http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=26711

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #42
Blá blá blá is the root of language.
A matter of attitude.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #43
@Barulheira I looked it up. Experts seem to be saying logogram/logograph these days. Karlgren didn't, but he is not of these days either. And I would not use logogram/logograph because they couldn't make up their minds whether to use m or ph at the end, but I must admit that logographic system is brilliant from the terminological point of view.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #44
…always find the terminology that suits you! Reality be damned! :)

Would anyone care to discuss Universal Grammar? (à la Chomsky…) I won't blame you, if you don't!
But I cut my eye-teeth on his theoretical postulations; so, I'm still enamored… And his ideas still strike me as reasonable!
(But I still think Jaynes made a brilliant hypothesis! So, I'm easily misled…)
What do academics do, when they can't convince their peers?!
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
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Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #45
What did you want to discuss? How terminology works, universal grammar, Jaynes' hypothesis, or what academics do?

I know the answer (viz. None of the above). Just checking.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #46
ersi, you remain yourself! :) (I feel a little sorry for you, but not a lot!)

Perhaps you could take an opinion poll… That's pretty much how you "check" things, isn't it? :)

You assume your way of "seeing" things is the only way; and that any other way is wrong… I understand that. But that makes you an idiot! A quite intelligent idiot; but still… :)

For example, you think something called "structualiam" has a meaning — even though you refuse to define it!
(I understand why you do: You don't know what it means, either. Structualism is a sterile branch of the "scientific" endeavor. But it still seems to agree with Marxism, or Neo-Marxism. So, you'll continue to argue for it!)

Could you point me to an exposition of "structualism" that makes it make sense?
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)


Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #48
@Barulheira I looked it up. Experts seem to be saying logogram/logograph these days. Karlgren didn't, but he is not of these days either. And I would not use logogram/logograph because they couldn't make up their minds whether to use m or ph at the end, but I must admit that logographic system is brilliant from the terminological point of view.
In Shapes for sounds (cowhouse) the evolution of alphabets is described as going from a pictographic to a logographic to a phonographic stage. Whether this means that logogram has fallen out of favor or if it's just avoidance tactics I'm not sure.

Re: Awesomesauce Esperanto problem

Reply #49
@Barulheira I looked it up. Experts seem to be saying logogram/logograph these days. Karlgren didn't, but he is not of these days either. And I would not use logogram/logograph because they couldn't make up their minds whether to use m or ph at the end, but I must admit that logographic system is brilliant from the terminological point of view.
In Shapes for sounds (cowhouse) the evolution of alphabets is described as going from a pictographic to a logographic to a phonographic stage. Whether this means that logogram has fallen out of favor or if it's just avoidance tactics I'm not sure.
You mean logogram as opposed to logograph has fallen out of favour? The issue with those words is how to derive the adjective. Logographic sounds better than logogrammic or logogrammatic, hence the noun tends to be logograph. The same tension is with words ideogram and pictogram, with adjectives ideographic and pictographic.

As to evolution of alphabets from pictographic to logographic and phonographic, yes, that be the Darwinian view, not well supported in reality. Evolution of Egyptian writing, otherwise going through amazing transformation from hieroglyphs to alphabet, seems to be missing the pictographic phase (paintings and writings, even though very often on the same surface, were always separate things down to the remotest history), whereas Chinese has a rather good connection to the pictographic phase, but never evolved into an alphabet.

Scripts seem to emerge rather abruptly and they seem to often go extinct too without much development. Cave paintings may be interpreted as a sort of script, but looks like when people got out of the caves and into houses, they usually left the script into the caves and never looked back. So either it wasn't script or it wasn't important.

My view is that script is not a necessary part of culture. It emerges when other more critical elements of civilisation are in place. Script may occasionally linger on after the civilisation has declined (such as Bolgar runes until they adopted Islam along with Arabic). Overall, script is something for people with way too much time in their hands. Normally people have other concerns.