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

Re: infinite sentences (was: Word Limit)

Expand Messages
  • Matthew Martin
    Note, I m speaking from an engi-lang standpoint here, assuming we have a formal grammar of some sort available and that grammar covers all the legal
    Message 1 of 55 , Jan 18, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      Note, I'm speaking from an engi-lang standpoint here, assuming we have a formal grammar of some sort available and that grammar covers all the legal possibilities, so not elvish, not esperanto.

      I think the maximally complex sentence can be identified if you put limits on repetitions/recursions of a rule. For example, when I wrote my lorem ipsum generator that generates grammatical toki pona, it generates sentences of a certain length because I wanted to illustrate each possible rule, but not illustrate infinite chains of modifiers or infinite recursion, e.g. "The man is very, very old. The man is very, very, very old"

      The maximally complex toki pona sentences without repeating chains of the same element is about a few hundred words long. It's an interesting thing because as we take away rules from the list of 20 or so BNF grammar rules, the maximally complex and maximally long (without repeats) sentence gets shorter and shorter.

      So the grammar, (S)-V-(O) has 4 possible outcomes and (S)*-V-(O)* has an infinite, but not an infinite if you only allow reapplying a rule twice, so the 2nd grammar is only a tiny bit more spacious than the first. And importantly, from a language creation standpoint, the infinite spaciousness of the 2nd grammar adds almost nothing to expressiveness, the grammatical legal power of being able to have a chain of 1,732 subjects seems sort of useless. I suspect as the number of BNF rules grows, the length of a maximally complex sentence (w/o repeating more than 2x) rapidly grows to something longer than any human is likely to utter, but I'm not sure how big that space needs to be before people don't feel constrained by it.

      Matthew Martin
    • David Peterson
      ... This is just what I ve been saying about fiction. Author John P. Onlyme comes up with a wonderfully interesting story (not a serial: just a novel), and it
      Message 55 of 55 , Jan 18, 2013
      • 0 Attachment
        On Jan 18, 2013, at 6:22 AM, Matthew Martin <matthewdeanmartin@...> wrote:

        > I see this so often I need a name for it and I've been calling it the solipsistic methodology. In the solipsistic methodology, there really isn't anything outside of the conlanger's desires that matters, which makes asking questions on a mailing list a sort of a strange behavior. I can only assume the OP asked the question because the answer has ramifications and a standard of truth that exists outside of his own mind. The truth value properties about statements about solipsists language exist only in his own head so why should that person ask questions? The only answer in a solipsist methodology would ever would be, well, "How do you feel about it? Really? That is correct." Anyhow, I encourage everyone to follow their joy, including solipsistic methodologies, I'm just a spectator here.

        This is just what I've been saying about fiction. Author John P. Onlyme comes up with a wonderfully interesting story (not a serial: just a novel), and it generates a bit of a fan base, and some of the fans come to the conclusion that certain scenes are too long or too short, and so they suggest that Onlyme change it. And what does he do? He completely ignores them—shuts them out, as if the story only exists in his head, and no one else counts. Ho hum. Eventually John P. Onlyme will die, and no one will remember his story or ever read it again—just like every other work of fiction that isn't open to change.

        So you don't have to connect the dots yourself here: A conlang need not merely be a language. That's an advantage conlangs have over natural languages. There is more than one way to interact with a conlang—and, in fact, using the conlang may not actually be the optimal way to interact with it.

        David Peterson
        LCS President
        president@...
        www.conlang.org
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.