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Re: Exolanging (was: revisiting the artlang/engelang distinction)

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  • Jörg Rhiemeier
    Hallo conlangers! ... Yes, I remember that discussion. Stacks are indeed widely used in parsing programming languages and similar systems, not only those
    Message 1 of 173 , Aug 2, 2011
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      Hallo conlangers!

      On Monday 01 August 2011 17:42:08, And Rosta wrote:

      > I think I mentioned when this was last discussed, that at least in some
      > commonsensical theories of natlang parsing (- I know too little to say more
      > than that), a stack (operating on audible forms) is a key ingredient.
      > Certainly it seems so logical a parsing device to use, that I think the
      > onus of evidentiary justification is on those who think stacks aren't
      > used. (If there are linear conlangs described as unsuitable for
      > stack-based parsing, that would be something interesting to discuss.)

      Yes, I remember that discussion. Stacks are indeed widely used
      in parsing programming languages and similar systems, not only
      those using RPN. Yet, I doubt that computer programs which parse
      languages (in a wider sense) are a good analogue for the way the
      human brain deals with language. The human mind is almost
      certainly not a von Neumann machine; the experience of free will
      we all have probably indicates that we are dealing with a
      nondeterministic quantum system here. (Which would also explain
      why attempts to deal with human languages by computational means
      have shown such a slow and mixed success so far.)

      > To make a further, different but related point, from our discussion of Fith
      > earlier this year I concluded that the basic grammatical mechanisms of Fith
      > are to be found in natlangs, and the exoticness of Fith resides not so much
      > in the language as in the powerful short-term memories of its speakers, who
      > would also be able to speak grammatical English sentences beyond the
      > parsing power of humans.

      Maybe that is indeed all the "magic" behind Fith ;) Indeed,
      I feel that Fith is not a very plausible exolang; however, it is
      a nice little gedankenexperiment about what a consequently stack-
      based language could look like.

      ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
      "Bêsel asa Êm, a Êm atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Êmel." - SiM 1:1
    • David Peterson
      ... In order to do this, there will need to be something fundamentally different between game systems and language systems. I m not sure this is so. This,
      Message 173 of 173 , Aug 4, 2011
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        On Aug 4, 2011, at 1◊03 PM, And Rosta wrote:

        > With regard to what you wrote about admiration of systems, let me narrow
        > that down a bit. First of all I'd been talking about aesthetic pleasure (or
        > strong aesthetic attraction) in particular rather than admiration in general
        > (since Enge is also characterized by admiration of systems). Second, let's
        > narrow to grammatical systems, because I don't want to claim that it is not
        > common to derive aesthetic pleasure from games' systems.

        In order to do this, there will need to be something fundamentally different between game systems and language systems. I'm not sure this is so. This, then, is a sticking point.

        > So, with regard to
        > aesthetic appreciation of grammatical patterns/systems, I'd claim, firstly
        > and tentatively, that it is not typical of conlangers, secondly and more
        > confidently, that it's not prone to intersubjective agreement, and thirdly
        > and in a restatement of one of the main points I was making earlier, it is
        > not a characteristic of typical artlanging.

        I'll dispute the first two points, but not the latter (that's a comment on what artlangers do and why, which can be pondered, but not answered without a really thorough survey). I think one of the problems that may be occurring here is that a number of conlangers don't actually learn and/or put into use (or imagine putting into use) the systems of conlangs. And while a conlang need not be used for *communication*, I'd say many (if not most) are certainly created to be *used*. You can't comment on a system if you haven't used it—or, at the very least, imagined its use—to see how it works in its natural environment. And just as an aesthetic response occurs while one is playing a game, so will one occur while one is using a language system.

        Assuming this to be true (i.e. if one accepts that a user can respond aesthetically to smaller subsystems within a highly complex system, like a game or a language), I'd conclude the following:

        -In reviewing a conlang, one can certainly have a response to the gestalt (e.g. "I like this language", just as one can say "I like this game", or "that cloud is pretty"). But just as one can evaluate specific encounters in a game, gameplay, story, user interfaces, etc., a careful reviewer can evaluate the aesthetic merits of the subsystems within a conlang (e.g. the beauty of a conjugation system or a noun case system). Doing so, though, will be an evaluation of the user experience, along with, say, phonological choices made in the morphology, and the effort that went into fleshing out the system.

        -Since part of the enjoyment derived from a conlang is its use (or its potential to be used), a conlanger (not just an artlanger) will ignore the user response to their subsystems at their own peril. One can say that it doesn't matter, that one doesn't appreciate their own response to subsystems within language, but ignoring the response will likely mean the conlanger won't be able to effectively reproduce it—or improve upon it.

        -It's possible to produce a linguistic subsystem that's more "fun" (i.e. one that more users will like) than another, and it's more than possible for there to be statistically significant intersubject agreement. I think this can be modeled without using an actual phonology or other language elements to bias the results (i.e. instead of making up forms, one uses "STEMA", "STEMB", and "1", "2", "3", etc. for affixes. In fact, colored boxes would work, too, provided that the same colors and shapes are used for both subsystems).

        > (Remember that through prior
        > discussion we've excluded aesthetic response to phonic & graphic, to
        > naturalism & verisimilitude, and to efficacious solutions to engineering
        > problems.)

        Right; so excluded.

        David Peterson
        LCS President
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