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Re: Glossotechnia

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  • Logan Kearsley
    ... Aha. We ve always been very strict about not using any existing language to assist in definition- you get it purely from charade and game-language use, or
    Message 1 of 9 , Feb 17, 2013
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      On 17 February 2013 20:45, Daniel Demski <dranorter@...> wrote:
      > On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 8:03 PM, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>wrote:
      >
      >> I have a group (not very stable- mainly one other friend and whoever
      >> we happen to be able to recruit at a given time) that has occasionally
      >> played Glossotechnia, but not even semi-regularly. I would like to try
      >> to do it more regularly, though.
      >
      > Btw, by semi-regularly I mean most Wednesdays, which is pretty good if it
      > actually ends up happening that way.
      >
      >> We've tried several minor variations on challenge generation and
      >> scoring, but nothing particularly interesting has come of it.
      >> Even with 5 people playing, though, there always seem to be issues
      >> with the charades; about a third of the time, the other players end up
      >> just making up their own meaning for a new coinage because the coiner
      >> could not properly convey their intended meaning. The game languages
      >> always seem to have a similar flavor because of the excessive
      >> difficulty of miming abstract grammatical features, so I've been
      >> considering adding a bunch of some sort of "change grammar" cards that
      >> would allow you to introduce inflections, adpositions, particles,
      >> etc., outside of the charade mechanism for defining content words.
      >>
      >> -l.
      >>
      >
      >
      > I think part of the reason our charades went so well was there was some
      > willingness to say "yes! that's what I mean!" to the closest guess and then
      > go ahead and change the part of speech or wriggle around the meaning when
      > elaborating on the word. I also think we could get further with grammatical
      > stuff by relying more on examples in the game language to try and define a
      > new word.

      Aha. We've always been very strict about not using any existing
      language to assist in definition- you get it purely from charade and
      game-language use, or not at all, no explaining or elaborating
      allowed.

      > When players make up their own meaning, are they self-serving about it,
      > coining the fiddly grammatical words they need?

      Not generally, because it comes out of consensus on what the charade
      was probably supposed to be, even though we got it wrong; it's just
      that when the charade fails to communicate entirely, there's not a
      whole lot to go on to keep the decided upon meaning anything like the
      original intended meaning.

      > I really want to add these sorts of grammar cards too. They'd allow much
      > more complex challenge sentences. Of course the ever-present issue is
      > whether grammar/linguistics-naïve players would be comfortable using them.

      I think a game like Glossotechnia requires some minimal level of
      linguistic awareness, or at least willingness to develop such. I've so
      far always found that its possible to explain what a certain card is
      for, how to use it, and why a player might want to without
      compromising the competitive aspect of the game whenever failure to
      grasp a certain point of linguistics might otherwise inhibit a
      more-naive player.

      > Let's try and list some cards along these lines. I'll try them out next
      > week. I'm thinking don't want something like a "make a particle" card
      > because it doesn't guide the player anywhere; rather, there should be cards
      > for some of the purposes of particles. The card should do the tough
      > explaining of linguistics concepts rather than the player.

      Personally, I think the explanatory function would be best served by
      the various grammar cards that already exist. What I had in mind was
      not a specific "create a particle" card- that would only be playable
      if isolating morphology was in play- but rather some kind of "express
      a category" cards, whose effects would be restricted by the grammar
      already in play. So, if the game language has isolating morphology and
      case and definiteness, you'd create a new particle or preposition or
      coverb or something like that and define it to express a distinction
      in either case or definiteness.

      > - Mark Definite/Indefinite: Specify a way of indicating whether something
      > is specific and familiar versus generic or unknown. Is this contrast
      > obligatory? Possibilities include affixes, mutations, words, and word
      > order. Examples: English "a bus" versus "the bus".

      I would want this to be a generic grammar card, much like the typology
      and word-order cards, rather than a morpheme-coining card. There could
      also be a specificity category card separate from (and playable at the
      same time as) a definiteness card.

      > - Mark Topic/Comment: Specify a way of indicating whether something is the
      > theme on which a sentence is commenting versus what is being said about
      > that theme. Is this contrast obligatory? Possibilities include affixes,
      > mutations, words, and word order. Examples: Japanese -wa, English word
      > order (that book - I bought it already.)

      Topic-comment grammar cards already exist, specifying word-orders to
      mark those categories; those could be replaced with or supplemented by
      more generic "coin grammar" cards that would allow you more freedom to
      specify how the distinction is marked and whether or not it is
      obligatory. Perhaps, to have a place to put that explanation about
      what topicality is with cross-linguistic examples, there could be a
      "topicality" category card which when in play makes the category
      obligatory with a certain default marking (like the existing
      Topic-comment syntax cards) and opens up the expression of that
      category to be modified by "coin grammar" cards.

      > Hmm, what cards would help with "still" (as in, still makes me happy) and
      > "just" (as in, just started)?

      I would say aspect. You could get those words, e.g., by introducing a
      grammatical category card for Aspect (or just having aspect be a
      default starting category for the game language, since it's so
      freaking common), playing an isolating typology card, and then using
      "coin grammar" cards to specify how aspectual distinctions are made
      with separate words.

      > There could also be cards for unusual ways of making contrasts:
      >
      > -That's a Different Word: Introduce some contrast which is systematically
      > made via vocabulary for a specified class of words. This can require there
      > be multiple versions of each word, or simply assign a connotation to each
      > word. Examples: Gender in Spanish nouns, age in English animals (puppy/dog,
      > foal/horse, kitten/cat).

      I rather like that. Gender is a bad example, though- there isn't a
      feminine version and a masculine version for every Spanish noun
      indicating a real semantic difference, every noun is just put into one
      or the other strictly grammatical category. This is the sort of thing
      that would give one player a lot of power to change the lexicon in one
      go, though, as it'd probably be necessary to define what the newly
      restricted meaning of every effected word already in the lexicon is.

      -l.
    • Daniel Demski
      ... Elaboration after coining was really fun. It probably slowed down play, and the resulting complexity didn t get used much, but it gave our language a
      Message 2 of 9 , Feb 17, 2013
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        On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 11:36 PM, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>wrote:

        > Aha. We've always been very strict about not using any existing
        > language to assist in definition- you get it purely from charade and
        > game-language use, or not at all, no explaining or elaborating
        > allowed.
        >

        Elaboration after coining was really fun. It probably slowed down play, and
        the resulting complexity didn't get used much, but it gave our language a
        culture, in a way I thought was better than the cultural rules.


        >
        > > When players make up their own meaning, are they self-serving about it,
        > > coining the fiddly grammatical words they need?
        >
        > Not generally, because it comes out of consensus on what the charade
        > was probably supposed to be, even though we got it wrong; it's just
        > that when the charade fails to communicate entirely, there's not a
        > whole lot to go on to keep the decided upon meaning anything like the
        > original intended meaning.
        >

        When this has happened to me players have coined fun but useless words.


        > I think a game like Glossotechnia requires some minimal level of
        > linguistic awareness, or at least willingness to develop such. I've so
        > far always found that its possible to explain what a certain card is
        > for, how to use it, and why a player might want to without
        > compromising the competitive aspect of the game whenever failure to
        > grasp a certain point of linguistics might otherwise inhibit a
        > more-naive player.
        >

        True.


        >
        > Personally, I think the explanatory function would be best served by
        > the various grammar cards that already exist. What I had in mind was
        > not a specific "create a particle" card- that would only be playable
        > if isolating morphology was in play- but rather some kind of "express
        > a category" cards, whose effects would be restricted by the grammar
        > already in play. So, if the game language has isolating morphology and
        > case and definiteness, you'd create a new particle or preposition or
        > coverb or something like that and define it to express a distinction
        > in either case or definiteness.
        >

        Trying to understand exactly what you're suggesting here. So there would be
        a pair of cards like,

        Topicality (Grammar): Each sentence has a topic and comment, distinguished
        by word order, affix, particle, or another mechanism.
        Topicality (Express a Category): Coin a method for expressing topicality.

        Or, just the second card? Or, just a generic Express a Category card,
        matchable with any Category in play? And would these cards need to be
        played for topicality to be expressed, or would someone be allowed to try
        and coin the distinctions without them?

        The reason I don't like having something like the first card is because
        then all these category markings would be obligatory. I want someone to be
        able to get one of these cards and then coin an optional way of making the
        topic, definiteness, etc. specific.

        I would want this to be a generic grammar card, much like the typology
        > and word-order cards, rather than a morpheme-coining card. There could
        > also be a specificity category card separate from (and playable at the
        > same time as) a definiteness card.
        >

        Ah, yes, I did think about specificity versus definiteness, not sure I'm
        good enough at the descriptions to put them on separate cards though.


        > > Hmm, what cards would help with "still" (as in, still makes me happy) and
        > > "just" (as in, just started)?
        >
        > I would say aspect. You could get those words, e.g., by introducing a
        > grammatical category card for Aspect (or just having aspect be a
        > default starting category for the game language, since it's so
        > freaking common), playing an isolating typology card, and then using
        > "coin grammar" cards to specify how aspectual distinctions are made
        > with separate words.
        >

        So the overall picture I'm getting here is that for any given grammatical
        word that we think is too hard to charade or usually gets ignored, we
        introduce a grammatical category card and then generic coin grammar cards
        become capable of filling the gap. This certainly could work, despite my
        objection above. But I think as a grammatical category card "Aspect" would
        just encourage players to make the language require a perfect/imperfect
        distinction on verbs. I guess good examples on the card could help keep
        people creative.


        >
        > > There could also be cards for unusual ways of making contrasts:
        > >
        > > -That's a Different Word: Introduce some contrast which is systematically
        > > made via vocabulary for a specified class of words. This can require
        > there
        > > be multiple versions of each word, or simply assign a connotation to each
        > > word. Examples: Gender in Spanish nouns, age in English animals
        > (puppy/dog,
        > > foal/horse, kitten/cat).
        >
        > I rather like that. Gender is a bad example, though- there isn't a
        > feminine version and a masculine version for every Spanish noun
        > indicating a real semantic difference, every noun is just put into one
        > or the other strictly grammatical category. This is the sort of thing
        > that would give one player a lot of power to change the lexicon in one
        > go, though, as it'd probably be necessary to define what the newly
        > restricted meaning of every effected word already in the lexicon is.
        >
        > -l.
        >


        Ah, the reason I mentioned gender here is because I had the following use
        in mind: play the card to do something like make each verb in the language
        either strictly deliberate or strictly not. This would have worked well in
        last Wednesday's game, where some of the verbs already had this contrast.

        Also, yes, changing the whole wordlist is a problem. I meant to add at the
        end: "If this affects previous vocabulary and grammar, the changes are made
        by consensus of the other players." Some such decisions could be left until
        later.

        Maybe such a powerful card should start out "instead of coining a word".

        OK so. Let's suppose there are these "grammatical category" and "coin
        grammar" cards. The person who plays the grammatical category could decide
        whether it's obligatory and when, but then playing "coin grammar" would be
        less interesting. Perhaps "coin grammar" cards can change the "grammatical
        category" decisions somewhat.

        Assuming I find a way I like to balance that out, what grammatical category
        cards should there be? Certainly evidentiality, aspect, topicality, agency,
        modality, definiteness; though with aspect and modality I feel like they're
        big topics to put on one card. Specificity is also an option. Tense,
        person, and number shouldn't need a card I think (or out by default like
        aspect), but maybe that's my native language speaking... what if these
        cards had to come up in order to be distinctions?

        There are also some fun distinctions which probably don't deserve this sort
        of explicit, card-based treatment, like animacy, size (I mean, like
        diminutive), familiarity, good versus bad, "us" versus "them".

        So, what other grammatical category cards might we include?
      • Logan Kearsley
        ... It might be worth me trying to play with those slightly relaxed rules, then. ... There would be the first kind of card. And then either option for
        Message 3 of 9 , Feb 17, 2013
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          On 17 February 2013 23:31, Daniel Demski <dranorter@...> wrote:
          > On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 11:36 PM, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>wrote:
          >
          >> Aha. We've always been very strict about not using any existing
          >> language to assist in definition- you get it purely from charade and
          >> game-language use, or not at all, no explaining or elaborating
          >> allowed.
          >>
          >
          > Elaboration after coining was really fun. It probably slowed down play, and
          > the resulting complexity didn't get used much, but it gave our language a
          > culture, in a way I thought was better than the cultural rules.

          It might be worth me trying to play with those slightly relaxed rules, then.

          > Trying to understand exactly what you're suggesting here. So there would be
          > a pair of cards like,
          >
          > Topicality (Grammar): Each sentence has a topic and comment, distinguished
          > by word order, affix, particle, or another mechanism.
          > Topicality (Express a Category): Coin a method for expressing topicality.
          >
          > Or, just the second card? Or, just a generic Express a Category card,
          > matchable with any Category in play? And would these cards need to be
          > played for topicality to be expressed, or would someone be allowed to try
          > and coin the distinctions without them?

          There would be the first kind of card. And then either option for
          "Topicality (Express a Category)" or just generic "Express a
          Category"; I do not have good intuitions for which would turn out to
          be more useful / result in better play.
          I would say these cards do not need to be in play *if someone can
          charade really well and coin the distinctions in the basic fashion*.
          Their purpose is to introduce an extra avenue to get complex grammar
          into the language more easily, on top of the charade mechanism.

          > The reason I don't like having something like the first card is because
          > then all these category markings would be obligatory. I want someone to be
          > able to get one of these cards and then coin an optional way of making the
          > topic, definiteness, etc. specific.

          I would think you could get "optional" marking by introducing
          "non-specified" as one of the distinctions to be made in any given
          category. But there's certainly room for experimentation to be done
          here to see if that's really the best way to go about it.

          > Also, yes, changing the whole wordlist is a problem. I meant to add at the
          > end: "If this affects previous vocabulary and grammar, the changes are made
          > by consensus of the other players." Some such decisions could be left until
          > later.
          >
          > Maybe such a powerful card should start out "instead of coining a word".

          Those two restrictions combined would work well to make the card
          reasonably balanced, I think.

          > Tense, person, and number shouldn't need a card I think

          Oh, I think tense, person, and number *should*. Just to be able to
          force the distinctions to come into effect when other players aren't
          cooperating with you.

          > what if these cards had to come up in order to be distinctions?

          Then you might end up with an artificially inflated count of game
          languages that are forced not to make those distinctions. As I said
          above, I think you should be able to introduce whatever distinctions
          you want if you can successfully do so via charades or in-language
          description.

          > There are also some fun distinctions which probably don't deserve this sort
          > of explicit, card-based treatment, like animacy, size (I mean, like
          > diminutive), familiarity, good versus bad, "us" versus "them".

          Animacy could be profitably added in the form of a syntax card, or a
          morpho-syntax card; we don't get many (any) animacy hierarchies in the
          games I play so far. (Are there morpho-syntax cards? I don't recall...
          I suppose you could get the effects of morpho-syntax cards just by
          combining various other category distinctions and syntax cards.)
          Case would be a good Category card to add.
          The rest of the ones you list are things I would expect to see as
          examples of semantic categories listed on the "There's Another Word
          For That" card.

          -l.
        • Daniel Demski
          I am still thinking about the advantages versus disadvantages of having the Grammatical Distinction card rather than just Coin Grammar cards. Given that we re
          Message 4 of 9 , Feb 19, 2013
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            I am still thinking about the advantages versus disadvantages of having the
            Grammatical Distinction card rather than just Coin Grammar cards. Given
            that we're only playing a two hour game each time, I'm not sure both cards
            would come up very often. I'm going to try it with just the Coin Grammar.


            On Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 2:01 AM, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...>wrote:

            > On 17 February 2013 23:31, Daniel Demski <dranorter@...> wrote:
            > > On Sun, Feb 17, 2013 at 11:36 PM, Logan Kearsley <chronosurfer@...
            > >wrote:
            > >
            > >> Aha. We've always been very strict about not using any existing
            > >> language to assist in definition- you get it purely from charade and
            > >> game-language use, or not at all, no explaining or elaborating
            > >> allowed.
            > >>
            > >
            > > Elaboration after coining was really fun. It probably slowed down play,
            > and
            > > the resulting complexity didn't get used much, but it gave our language a
            > > culture, in a way I thought was better than the cultural rules.
            >
            > It might be worth me trying to play with those slightly relaxed rules,
            > then.
            >
            > > Trying to understand exactly what you're suggesting here. So there would
            > be
            > > a pair of cards like,
            > >
            > > Topicality (Grammar): Each sentence has a topic and comment,
            > distinguished
            > > by word order, affix, particle, or another mechanism.
            > > Topicality (Express a Category): Coin a method for expressing topicality.
            > >
            > > Or, just the second card? Or, just a generic Express a Category card,
            > > matchable with any Category in play? And would these cards need to be
            > > played for topicality to be expressed, or would someone be allowed to try
            > > and coin the distinctions without them?
            >
            > There would be the first kind of card. And then either option for
            > "Topicality (Express a Category)" or just generic "Express a
            > Category"; I do not have good intuitions for which would turn out to
            > be more useful / result in better play.
            > I would say these cards do not need to be in play *if someone can
            > charade really well and coin the distinctions in the basic fashion*.
            > Their purpose is to introduce an extra avenue to get complex grammar
            > into the language more easily, on top of the charade mechanism.
            >
            > > The reason I don't like having something like the first card is because
            > > then all these category markings would be obligatory. I want someone to
            > be
            > > able to get one of these cards and then coin an optional way of making
            > the
            > > topic, definiteness, etc. specific.
            >
            > I would think you could get "optional" marking by introducing
            > "non-specified" as one of the distinctions to be made in any given
            > category. But there's certainly room for experimentation to be done
            > here to see if that's really the best way to go about it.
            >
            > > Also, yes, changing the whole wordlist is a problem. I meant to add at
            > the
            > > end: "If this affects previous vocabulary and grammar, the changes are
            > made
            > > by consensus of the other players." Some such decisions could be left
            > until
            > > later.
            > >
            > > Maybe such a powerful card should start out "instead of coining a word".
            >
            > Those two restrictions combined would work well to make the card
            > reasonably balanced, I think.
            >
            > > Tense, person, and number shouldn't need a card I think
            >
            > Oh, I think tense, person, and number *should*. Just to be able to
            > force the distinctions to come into effect when other players aren't
            > cooperating with you.
            >
            > > what if these cards had to come up in order to be distinctions?
            >
            > Then you might end up with an artificially inflated count of game
            > languages that are forced not to make those distinctions. As I said
            > above, I think you should be able to introduce whatever distinctions
            > you want if you can successfully do so via charades or in-language
            > description.
            >
            > > There are also some fun distinctions which probably don't deserve this
            > sort
            > > of explicit, card-based treatment, like animacy, size (I mean, like
            > > diminutive), familiarity, good versus bad, "us" versus "them".
            >
            > Animacy could be profitably added in the form of a syntax card, or a
            > morpho-syntax card; we don't get many (any) animacy hierarchies in the
            > games I play so far. (Are there morpho-syntax cards? I don't recall...
            > I suppose you could get the effects of morpho-syntax cards just by
            > combining various other category distinctions and syntax cards.)
            > Case would be a good Category card to add.
            > The rest of the ones you list are things I would expect to see as
            > examples of semantic categories listed on the "There's Another Word
            > For That" card.
            >
            > -l.
            >
          • Jim Henry
            ... What about something like this: Specify how, when and whether [agency / topicality / definiteness / ... / wildcard grammatical category ] is marked. By
            Message 5 of 9 , Feb 19, 2013
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              On Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 1:31 AM, Daniel Demski <dranorter@...> wrote:
              > Topicality (Grammar): Each sentence has a topic and comment, distinguished
              > by word order, affix, particle, or another mechanism.
              > Topicality (Express a Category): Coin a method for expressing topicality.
              >
              > Or, just the second card? Or, just a generic Express a Category card,

              > The reason I don't like having something like the first card is because
              > then all these category markings would be obligatory. I want someone to be

              What about something like this:

              "Specify how, when and whether [agency / topicality / definiteness /
              ... / wildcard grammatical category ] is marked. By affix, mutation
              or separate particle? (Coin one or more affixes or particles.)
              Mandatory or optional? On which types of word?"

              --
              Jim Henry
              http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
              http://www.jimhenrymedicaltrust.org
            • Daniel Demski
              ... Come to think of it I have never played an add inflectional category card and then had someone follow up with an additional inflection (invariably
              Message 6 of 9 , Feb 19, 2013
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                On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 6:08 PM, Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...> wrote:

                > What about something like this:
                >
                > "Specify how, when and whether [agency / topicality / definiteness /
                > ... / wildcard grammatical category ] is marked. By affix, mutation
                > or separate particle? (Coin one or more affixes or particles.)
                > Mandatory or optional? On which types of word?"
                >
                > --
                > Jim Henry
                > http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
                > http://www.jimhenrymedicaltrust.org
                >


                Come to think of it I have never played an "add inflectional category" card
                and then had someone follow up with an additional inflection (invariably
                someone creates a past tense and nobody creates any others). So "coin one
                or more" sounds like it would be just fine. :)
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