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204151Re: Languages With Unusual Syntax (was: Universal language....)

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  • And Rosta
    Jul 27, 2014
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      Logan Kearsley, On 27/07/2014 00:01:
      > It's entirely possible to design a logic notation (e.g., combinator
      > calculus) which only requires a single syntactic category with
      > equivalence to predicate calculus or set semantics, so why do we
      > never see that in natlangs?
      > I have experimented with designing a loglang with only a single part
      > of speech, and discovered that it quickly becomes extremely difficult
      > to keep track of in my head when sentences start to get remotely
      > non-trivial.

      I'd like to see how this notation works, under the following requirements:

      1. No ambiguity
      2. Linear (speakable) form
      3. Notionally, one random symbol per word (i.e. no morphology)

      Without Criterion 1, the problem is trivially solved by leaving everything to pragmatics. Without Criterion 2, there is a known solution but the language is not speakable. Without Criterion 3, the problem is trivially solved by converting words of all but one class into sublexical morphemes.

      (2D Livagian fails Criterion 2; and Livagian proper, with one part of speech but tons of syntax-encoding inflectional morphology, fails Criterion 3.)

      > So, it seems to me that at least two parts of speech are needed
      > essentially in order to manage complexity through, essentially,
      > parenthesize / clarifying order of compositional operations. Some of
      > that can be handled by intonation, but intonation patterns are much
      > less robust against noisy transmission channels than distinct function
      > words.

      I'd question whether that's true. My impression (e.g. from trying to transcribe speech recorded in noise) is that intonation patterns -- at least those that span a phrase or more -- are especially robust, and robuster than function words. (Cf. "One small step for ???[a] man".) But anyway, if one did use intonation then it would effectively fall foul of Criterion 3.

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