Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Impossible Gibberish (was Re: On the design of an ideal language)

Expand Messages
  • Sai Emrys
    ... [...] FWIW, what I meant by the PSC is not necessarily that every utterance must make sense in some *pragmatic* sense (vis. colorless green ideas) - that s
    Message 1 of 11 , May 1 9:35 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      On 5/1/06, Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...> wrote:
      > -----Original Message-----
      > >From: And Rosta <and.rosta@...>
      > >7. Principle of Semantic Conservation
      > >"There should be no such thing as a "nonsense" or "incorrect" phrase."
      >
      > I rather suspect every language has its own colorless green ideas, and I rather suspect that at least some utterances will either be grammatically incorrect or lexically nonsense.
      [...]

      FWIW, what I meant by the PSC is not necessarily that every utterance
      must make sense in some *pragmatic* sense (vis. colorless green ideas)
      - that's impossible AFAICT - but that it must be *parsable*.

      E.g. "I eat five apple yesterday." That's just "wrong", and in fact
      it's wrong in a way that could only be reasonably interpreted as one
      thing - "I ate five apples yesterday". That one is "correct" and the
      other not is a waste of semantic space. I would have the two sentences
      mean different, but both parsable (and plausible in that sense).

      I am in no way AT ALL opposed to poetic use of language, including the
      bizarre or extreme - just to "jibberish" in the sense of "farkol is
      korp last tuesday". First, the sort where you can have sentences that
      are "ungrammatical" (present-tense is vs last tues), and second, where
      such relatively simple lexemes are NOT real words, but really long
      complex ones are.

      FWIW, the PSC and the (implied, but should be added explicitly)
      Principle of Noise Resistance (per previous poster) are of course at
      odds to a certain extent.

      I would argue, though, that if you were going to build in redundance
      for the sake of a PNR, it could take on a much more elegant/efficient
      form than this sort of rule.

      It's also at odds with space-reservation (i.e. to accomodate a growing
      vocabulary or other needs).

      As I said elsewhere, this sort of balance through opposing forces is
      perfectly acceptable to me.

      - Sai

      P.S. After having written this, I read:
      > The Principle, in its extreme form, is that every well-formed
      > phonological string corresponds to all or part of a well-formed
      > sentence. Weird lexeme combinations produce weird meanings, but remain
      > meaningful and well-formed. The Principle is not about colourless green
      > ideas, but about "the and but not though".
      >
      > --And.

      ... I totally concur. (Of course, I would not limit it to phonological
      strings...)

      P.P.S. I would like to add that I would like to find a niche for
      Jabberwocky-style not-quite-nonsense... but it does conflict with this
      pretty directly. Except, of course, if you carve out some way to have
      the sort of onomatopaeic / associational semantics that are implicit
      in Jabberwocky. It does make one think of things, after all. There
      just isn't a grammar for creating that, in English, which makes it
      'jibberish' rather than 'onomatopaeia'. (I'm using a very loose sense
      of 'onomatopaeia' here, not necessarily to mean it sounds like a
      sound, but it sounds like an idea. Hopefully that makes sense.)
    • Joe
      ... I agree, actually. A language where you *cannot* construct nonsense would seem to restrict creativity.
      Message 2 of 11 , May 2 12:30 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        Hanuman Zhang wrote:

        >Methinx that "non-sense" and/or "incorrect" are quite
        >socio-culturally-dependent and subjective.
        >
        >Ferinstanz, to average monolinigual American with the bare minimum of 4 yrs
        >of college or less, James Joyce's _Finnegans Wake_ is impossiblly hermetic
        >"non-sense"... and auxlangs like Interlingua or Novial "incorrect," vaguely
        >Eurolang gibberish.
        >
        >
        >

        I agree, actually. A language where you *cannot* construct nonsense
        would seem to restrict creativity.
      • Jim Henry
        ... This particular kind of ungrammaticality is easy enough to avoid in a conlang; make the plural marker optional when another number word is present, and the
        Message 3 of 11 , May 2 6:17 AM
        • 0 Attachment
          On 5/2/06, Sai Emrys <sai@...> wrote:

          > FWIW, what I meant by the PSC is not necessarily that every utterance
          > must make sense in some *pragmatic* sense (vis. colorless green ideas)
          > - that's impossible AFAICT - but that it must be *parsable*.
          >
          > E.g. "I eat five apple yesterday." That's just "wrong", and in fact
          > it's wrong in a way that could only be reasonably interpreted as one
          > thing - "I ate five apples yesterday". That one is "correct" and the
          > other not is a waste of semantic space. I would have the two sentences
          > mean different, but both parsable (and plausible in that sense).

          This particular kind of ungrammaticality is easy enough
          to avoid in a conlang; make the plural marker optional
          when another number word is present, and the tense
          markers optional when a specific temporal complement
          (like "yesterday") is present. Nonsense like "I eat
          future yesterday apples" would still be possible, where
          you have a tense marker that contradicts the temporal
          complement; but I reckon that's the sort of
          "colorless green ideas" that you aren't trying to rule out.

          >and second, where
          > such relatively simple lexemes are NOT real words, but really long
          > complex ones are.

          If you use up all or almost all of the monosyllabic
          word-shapes your language allows before
          creating any disyllables, and so forth, then the
          language will have no noise resistance; the
          slightest amount of background noise or the
          most trivial typo will make a sentence mean
          something different and in many cases
          equally plausible in context.

          > FWIW, the PSC and the (implied, but should be added explicitly)
          > Principle of Noise Resistance (per previous poster) are of course at
          > odds to a certain extent.
          >
          > I would argue, though, that if you were going to build in redundance
          > for the sake of a PNR, it could take on a much more elegant/efficient
          > form than this sort of rule.

          If you mean "no two morphemes differ by fewer than
          two phonemes", I agree. This is an experimental
          language and the redundancy criterion will probably change in a future
          revision. If you think "no two morphemes
          differ by fewer than two distinctive features" is still
          too inelegant or inefficient, what do you suggest
          as an improvement on that?

          Actually, I think "minimum two different distinctive
          features" is maybe not noise-resistant *enough*, and
          "minimum two different phonemes" wastes space.
          A good compromise might be "minimum three
          different distinctive features", but I'll need to
          make extensive revisions to my vocabulary generation
          script to handle that efficiently.


          > P.P.S. I would like to add that I would like to find a niche for
          > Jabberwocky-style not-quite-nonsense... but it does conflict with this
          > pretty directly. Except, of course, if you carve out some way to have
          > the sort of onomatopaeic / associational semantics that are implicit
          > in Jabberwocky. It does make one think of things, after all. There

          If you define a redundancy criterion that
          suits you -- for instance, no two morphemes
          differ by fewer than two distinctive features
          -- and then use up as many monosyllabic
          words as you can consistent with that redundancy
          criterion, then any mutation of one distinctive
          feature in one of your words would produce
          a nonsense word that's halfway between two
          real words (it sounds equally similar to both).
          Maybe that would allow Carrollesque poetry.
          For instance, if "ba" and "mi" are real words
          then "bi" or "ma" would be nonsense-portmanteaux
          that suggest "ba" and "mi" simultaneously.

          ....I also note that neither Sai nor And includes
          self-segregating morphology in their criteria
          for an ideal language. In And's case, he
          has something else that's just as good in
          disambiguating a parse string for a fluent
          speaker, though not as helpful for a learner
          as self-segregating morphology would be.
          In Sai's case I suppose that self-segregating
          morphology would be too great a constraint
          on filling up the phonological space with
          real words, perhaps?

          My engelang's phase 1 has self-segregating
          morphology, and probably the next phase or
          two will as well, but later on I may go with
          something less restrictive that's roughly
          equivalent to And's Livagian rule.

          --
          Jim Henry
          http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry
        • Sai Emrys
          This (re inefficient redundancy) was only referring back to the top of my reply, where I mentioned nonagreement. Self-segregation isn t something I thought
          Message 4 of 11 , May 2 9:42 AM
          • 0 Attachment
            "This" (re inefficient redundancy) was only referring back to the top
            of my reply, where I mentioned nonagreement.

            Self-segregation isn't something I thought of when I wrote ODIL, but
            I'd file it under noise resistance. Yes, again it balances against
            PSC. Perhaps not necesarily, if of sufficiently clever design?

            Only suggestion I have at the moment for how to had noise-reduction is
            to have multiple forms of words - their 'long form' (probably the
            default, and some way(s?) to regularly shorten them considerably -
            either to strip of phonetic/morphological redundancy, or to strip of
            perhaps even semantic redundancy - e.g. bits that would distinguish
            jargon about some particular field from others', and turn it into a
            more generic word that would be understood with context.

            At base, this idea is the same as 'hashing' in CS; the constraint here
            of course is what can be done easily during 'runtime' by human
            cognition.

            - Sai
          • Hanuman Zhang
            ... Or if ya into kinky 3-somes... hehe... -- Hanuman Zhang Changing my body changed my mind. - http://www.bmezine.com/ Sex times technology equals the
            Message 5 of 11 , May 2 12:40 PM
            • 0 Attachment
              on 5/1/06 8:40 PM, Herman Miller at hmiller@... wrote:

              > Antonielly Garcia Rodrigues wrote:
              >> I ate two Tuesdays. :P
              >
              > Tuesday isn't that common a name, but if dragons can talk (as often
              > seems to be the case), it's possible you could hear one say this...

              Or if ya into kinky 3-somes... hehe...


              --
              Hanuman Zhang

              "Changing my body changed my mind." - http://www.bmezine.com/

              "Sex times technology equals the future" - J. G. Ballard
            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.