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204125Re: Universal language for communicating with space aliens

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  • Patrik Austin
    Jul 25, 2014
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      OK I suggest we leave it to rest while moving on.

      [Logan:] That "(i.e. subject, verb, object, adverbial)" kind of ruins it. We've
      already established that it's *easy* to construct a language that does
      not use any of the familiar parts of speech or syntactic categories
      that you are used to, and even natural languages do it some times. If
      that's not what you actually mean by "syntax", you're going to have to
      tell us more precisely what your working definition of a "language
      without syntax as we know it" is.

      You don't have to use any conventional terminology, but you'd have to construct sentences that cannot be interpreted as subject, obect, verb, adverbial (I'd like to add: conjunction).

      Take the next sentence for instance: "If a tree falls in the forest, will it make a sound?"

      You could formalize this by saying IF A THEN B but don't forget the learnability - teachability condition. This is necessary because a language that can't be taught and learned (by people!) couldn't develop to a fully expressive language.

      That in turn means that you won't be able to use 'A' for 'a tree falls in the forest', not in the long run. You could use it for now, and 'C' for 'a giant falls in the forest'. But if you discover something new, such as a quantum computer, you couldn't make yourself understood by saying 'D' because a quantum computer is not already known; and with a language that has only quantors and words for complete phrases, you don't have the words 'quantum' and 'computer', so there's no way to explain what you mean (teach and learn).

      So now comes the easy part: you show an example how a conlang can express the exemplary sentence without using words that could be interpreted as following the usual syntax patterns, such as a combination of subject, verb, object and adverbial. We all know that human language is only arbitrary, so there must be endless ways to do it. And we have the best conlangers in this mailing list so I don't think we'll have to wait for long.

      And it doesn't have to count as a language in linguistic sense as long as it can express whatever you want to tell someone.
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