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Re: Are there any conventions for issuing a proposed extension to conlangs such as Esperanto?

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  • Jim Henry
    ... It seems to me that Esperanto is already better equipped than most languages to deal with time travel, with the various ways you can combine the
    Message 1 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
      On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 4:46 PM, Matthew George <matt.msg@...> wrote:
      > I'm trying to write grammatical additions that would permit Esperanto to
      > succinctly describe and refer to situations that hypothetically arise as a
      > result of time travel of various sorts.

      It seems to me that Esperanto is already better equipped than most
      languages to deal with time travel, with the various ways you can
      combine the tense/aspect participial suffixes with the tense/mood
      endings. I'd suggest exploring the possibilities there thoroughly
      before you add new affixes or endings.

      For instance, one could describe things that one plans to go back in
      time and do as something like "Mi estos farinta ion". That has
      another possible interpretation in a non-time-travel context, of
      course, but for all but the most precise engelangs, context is always
      going to be a major factor in interpreting utterances. Or events in
      an alternate timeline could be described with something like
      "Jefferson neniam aĉetintus Lousiana, do ĝi fariĝintus aparta lando en
      1848." (Jefferson never would-have-bought Louisina, so it
      would-have-became an independent country in 1848.)

      In fact, I suspect if time travel were to be discovered, Esperanto
      speakers would collectively work out some system of that sort for
      using existing grammar to describe it, rather than creating new
      grammar out of whole cloth.

      And as a couple of other posters in the thread have remarked, a
      language that doesn't mark tense obligatorily is probably better
      equipped to handle time travel than one that does.

      --
      Jim Henry
      http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/
      http://www.jimhenrymedicaltrust.org
    • R A Brown
      ... [snip] ... No. In fact I hadn t come across injunctive in connexion with ancient Greek before, and my knowledge of Sanskrit is not exactly great. If the
      Message 2 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
        On 08/03/2013 16:37, Alex Fink wrote:
        > On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 08:45:43 +0000, R A Brown wrote:
        [snip]
        >>
        >> Delete "often has more." "Aorist" essentially =
        >> _perfective_ (*not* perfect, which is a different
        >> thing).
        >
        > The aorist, yes. But I was just rereading Ringe on the
        > PIE verbal system, and (if I haven't confused my sources)
        > he repeated a claim that the Ancient Greek injunctive,
        > together with the Sanskrit injunctive, could have a more
        > tenseless sense than the (augment-bearing) aorist. Is
        > this so for Greek?

        No.

        In fact I hadn't come across 'injunctive' in connexion with
        ancient Greek before, and my knowledge of Sanskrit is not
        exactly great.

        If the Wikipedia article is remotely correct then the answer
        is still "no":
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Injunctive_mood

        The unaugmented imperfect (i.e. past imperfective) and past
        aorist indicative forms found in Homer and Epic are just
        that: they are _past indicative_ tenses with no augment.
        They may, as the article says, be _formally_ like Sanskrit
        injunctives, but they are not functionally differentiated
        from ordinary indicative forms in Greek.

        We were taught at school - and I think correctly - that in
        the earliest Greek the augment was optional.

        The writer of the Wikipedia article thinks "The modal
        semantics of the augmentless forms may then be a later
        development within Indo-Iranian or Indo-Aryan." I assume
        Ringe argues that modal semantics of the augmentless forms
        hark back to PIE and still existed in pre-Homeric Greek,
        before these forms became considered simply as poetic
        variants of the augmented form.

        The so-called "tenses" of the subjunctive, optative &
        imperative are, of course, timeless, i.e. not tenses in the
        linguistic sense; but there were no timeless indicative tenses.

        At that, I think, has now used up my daily Conlang allowance
        ;)

        --
        Ray
        ==================================
        http://www.carolandray.plus.com
        ==================================
        "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
        for individual beings and events."
        [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]
      • BPJ
        ... The concept of non-obligatory morphology crops up here from time to time, but I wonder if it really occurs in natlangs with bound morphemes. Non-bound
        Message 3 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
          Den fredagen den 8:e mars 2013 skrev Alex Fink<000024@...>:

          > On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 08:45:43 +0000, R A Brown <ray@...<javascript:;>>
          > wrote:
          >
          > >On 08/03/2013 01:13, Patrick Dunn wrote:
          > >> On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 6:54 PM, MorphemeAddict wrote:
          > >[snip]
          > >>> Another possibility for the use of a new tense was an
          > >>> "unspecified tense", as I understand Greek aorist to
          > >>> be, or as described in Rick Morneau's Latejami. There
          > >>> are lots of things about Latejami that I think should
          > >>> be part of a good language.
          >
          > Well, for these sorts of senses of "good", the whole tense marking system
          > being non-obligatory is the only way to go!
          >
          > Non-obligatory morphology

          The concept of non-obligatory morphology crops up here from time to time,
          but I wonder if it really occurs in natlangs with bound morphemes.
          Non-bound morphemes certainly can and often are truly optional but I can't
          recall ever seing optional bound morphemes in a natlang. Apparent cases
          would seem to always actually be clitics or actually belong in word
          formation rather than inflection.

          Take for example the enclitic definite article in Old Scandinavian. It's
          descendant in the modern languages is a bunch of bound morphemes and they
          are obligatory: when you speak of something definite it has to be there.
          Not a trace of optionalness. In Old Norse and Old Swedish the definite
          enclitic could (still) be omitted, at least in poetry, but it clearly was a
          clitic:

          - Both the noun and the article were fully inflected for number and case.
          - The article could be moved in front of the noun with an adjective
          between them, somtimes appearing both preposed and enclitic at the same
          time.

          Any counterexamples?

          /bpj




          > >> Well, in finite verbs the aorist certainly has a
          > >> definite tense, namely the past. But in imperatives,
          > >> infinitives and subjunctive/optative forms, as well as
          > >> participles, it often has more a sense of aspect.
          > >
          > >Delete "often has more." "Aorist" essentially =
          > >_perfective_ (*not* perfect, which is a different thing).
          >
          > The aorist, yes. But I was just rereading Ringe on the PIE verbal system,
          > and (if I haven't confused my sources) he repeated a claim that the Ancient
          > Greek injunctive, together with the Sanskrit injunctive, could have a more
          > tenseless sense than the (augment-bearing) aorist. Is this so for Greek?
          >
          >
          > On Thu, 7 Mar 2013 17:16:10 -0500, MorphemeAddict <lytlesw@...<javascript:;>>
          > wrote:
          >
          > >I once proposed a new tense for Esperanto, using an ending "-es", to
          > >represent events outside the event cone of relativity.
          > >http://www.lojban.org/files/papers/4thtense
          > >It didn't go over well.
          >
          > I haven't read the discussion you link, but from a physicist's point of
          > view, I quite like that, it's a very fitting extension. Thing is, it
          > doesn't seem very useful at human scales, where a second of space is
          > immense and a second of time is minuscule. I suspect that if this system
          > occurred in the wild it would be indistinguishable in practice from, and so
          > would be analyzed by human users as,
          > -is: past
          > -es: present, elsewhere
          > -as: present, here
          > -os: future
          >
          >
          > On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 08:45:43 +0000, R A Brown <ray@...<javascript:;>>
          > wrote:
          >
          > >On 07/03/2013 22:42, Matthew George wrote:
          > >[snip]
          > >>
          > >> Even in the simplest scenarios involving time travel,
          > >> you can no longer speak of the past or future as
          > >> something that will be the same for everyone and
          > >> everything. Instead of an absolute perspective, it's
          > >> relative. So grammar that permits only that absolute
          > >> view excludes most possibilities. And alternate time
          > >> lines? Forget it.
          > >
          > >Adding extra "tenses" IMO is going to make the situation
          > >even more complicated. It would seem to me better to follow
          > >Chinese and scrap tenses, and verbs only (optionally) to
          > >show aspectual difference.
          >
          > Hear, hear. JBR also says it well:
          >
          > | European languages such as English, or indeed Esperanto, treat tense --
          > | which is really a context-dependent pointer like this, on your left, here
          > | etc. -- as if it was an essential, objective feature of the event, just
          > | as plurality is an attribute of objects. And tense marking on verbs is
          > | obligatory, no matter how redundant or meaningless this is – whether the
          > | situation described is tenseless (time is a dimension, seven is prime),
          > | tensed (I was born in 1967, Hitler shot himself) or indeed metatensed (I
          > | will kill Hitler, this Time Line has become unstable)! The best solution
          > | isn't the Hitchhiker's Guide one of inventing special tenses for time
          > |travellers; it's the normal non-European approach of ignoring tense unless
          > | it's worth explicitly mentioning.
          > [http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/chrono.html#appx%5d
          >
          > Alex
          >
        • George Corley
          ... The Mandarin plural marker is probably a bound suffix (one of a very few bound morphemes in Mandarin), but it is optional on human nouns. (It s actually
          Message 4 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
            On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 1:56 PM, BPJ <bpj@...> wrote:

            > Den fredagen den 8:e mars 2013 skrev Alex Fink<000024@...>:
            >
            > > On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 08:45:43 +0000, R A Brown <ray@...
            > <javascript:;>>
            > > wrote:
            > >
            > > >On 08/03/2013 01:13, Patrick Dunn wrote:
            > > >> On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 6:54 PM, MorphemeAddict wrote:
            > > >[snip]
            > > >>> Another possibility for the use of a new tense was an
            > > >>> "unspecified tense", as I understand Greek aorist to
            > > >>> be, or as described in Rick Morneau's Latejami. There
            > > >>> are lots of things about Latejami that I think should
            > > >>> be part of a good language.
            > >
            > > Well, for these sorts of senses of "good", the whole tense marking system
            > > being non-obligatory is the only way to go!
            > >
            > > Non-obligatory morphology
            >
            > The concept of non-obligatory morphology crops up here from time to time,
            > but I wonder if it really occurs in natlangs with bound morphemes.
            > Non-bound morphemes certainly can and often are truly optional but I can't
            > recall ever seing optional bound morphemes in a natlang. Apparent cases
            > would seem to always actually be clitics or actually belong in word
            > formation rather than inflection.
            >
            > Take for example the enclitic definite article in Old Scandinavian. It's
            > descendant in the modern languages is a bunch of bound morphemes and they
            > are obligatory: when you speak of something definite it has to be there.
            > Not a trace of optionalness. In Old Norse and Old Swedish the definite
            > enclitic could (still) be omitted, at least in poetry, but it clearly was a
            > clitic:
            >
            > - Both the noun and the article were fully inflected for number and case.
            > - The article could be moved in front of the noun with an adjective
            > between them, somtimes appearing both preposed and enclitic at the same
            > time.
            >
            > Any counterexamples?
            >

            The Mandarin plural marker is probably a bound suffix (one of a very few
            bound morphemes in Mandarin), but it is optional on human nouns. (It's
            actually ungrammatical on non-human nouns, but obligatory with personal
            pronouns).
          • Eugene Oh
            ... Not exactly optional. If you mean generalisations such as doctors are kind , then I would point you to the several European languages which use the
            Message 5 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
              On 8 Mar 2013, at 20:08, George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:

              > On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 1:56 PM, BPJ <bpj@...> wrote:
              >
              >> Den fredagen den 8:e mars 2013 skrev Alex Fink<000024@...>:
              >>
              >>> On Fri, 8 Mar 2013 08:45:43 +0000, R A Brown <ray@...
              >> <javascript:;>>
              >>> wrote:
              >>>
              >>>> On 08/03/2013 01:13, Patrick Dunn wrote:
              >>>>> On Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 6:54 PM, MorphemeAddict wrote:
              >>>> [snip]
              >>>>>> Another possibility for the use of a new tense was an
              >>>>>> "unspecified tense", as I understand Greek aorist to
              >>>>>> be, or as described in Rick Morneau's Latejami. There
              >>>>>> are lots of things about Latejami that I think should
              >>>>>> be part of a good language.
              >>>
              >>> Well, for these sorts of senses of "good", the whole tense marking system
              >>> being non-obligatory is the only way to go!
              >>>
              >>> Non-obligatory morphology
              >>
              >> The concept of non-obligatory morphology crops up here from time to time,
              >> but I wonder if it really occurs in natlangs with bound morphemes.
              >> Non-bound morphemes certainly can and often are truly optional but I can't
              >> recall ever seing optional bound morphemes in a natlang. Apparent cases
              >> would seem to always actually be clitics or actually belong in word
              >> formation rather than inflection.
              >>
              >> Take for example the enclitic definite article in Old Scandinavian. It's
              >> descendant in the modern languages is a bunch of bound morphemes and they
              >> are obligatory: when you speak of something definite it has to be there.
              >> Not a trace of optionalness. In Old Norse and Old Swedish the definite
              >> enclitic could (still) be omitted, at least in poetry, but it clearly was a
              >> clitic:
              >>
              >> - Both the noun and the article were fully inflected for number and case.
              >> - The article could be moved in front of the noun with an adjective
              >> between them, somtimes appearing both preposed and enclitic at the same
              >> time.
              >>
              >> Any counterexamples?
              >
              > The Mandarin plural marker is probably a bound suffix (one of a very few
              > bound morphemes in Mandarin), but it is optional on human nouns. (It's
              > actually ungrammatical on non-human nouns, but obligatory with personal
              > pronouns).

              Not exactly optional. If you mean generalisations such as "doctors are kind", then I would point you to the several European languages which use the singular definite in place of the English plural. The plural suffix is not optional.


              Eugene

              Sent from my iPhone
            • Matthew George
              ... I grant your point. But the same objection can be raised to any conlang work. ... For the utilization of the people that might use it. As a fan of SF, I
              Message 6 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
                On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 4:01 AM, George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:

                >
                > The main issue is that, in the real world, we will rarely even need to deal
                > with this scenario because time travel does not exist (and may indeed may
                > be impossible).


                I grant your point. But the same objection can be raised to any conlang
                work.


                > I don't see much point in optimizing a language for a
                > specialized domain that many people will never use.
                >

                For the utilization of the people that might use it. As a fan of SF, I
                often find myself annoyed by the shoddy plotting of time travel in various
                popular media, but explaining why to others is often tedious and complex.
                And I want to start off my conlanging on something relatively simple.
                Besides, I might write a story or novel about Esperantists...from The
                Future! and it would be convenient to have a language that can easily describe
                complex meta-temporal situations.


                > If you were making Gallifreyan, you might need this. Esperanto won't
                > though, unless you are writing some fiction with Esperantist time
                > travelers.
                >

                That may be a second project. Dealing with Dr. Whovian time travel is a
                whole different kettle of fish. I'll consider tackling polylinear time
                afterwards.


                > Why not? Esperanto is effectively a living language. It was always
                > intended to be a community project, and I don't think Zamenhof would mind
                > people tinkering with it, as he didn't really mind when he was alive.
                >

                Especially since I doubt I'll be taking away or altering any of the
                existing content. I chose Esperanto because 1) it's relatively logical and
                grammatically straightforward, 2) it's a far better subject than English,
                which is terrible, 3) it's a plausible auxlang for the future(s), and 4) it
                reminds me of *Red Dwarf*.
              • Patrick Dunn
                ... I m working through Greek: An Intensive Course to try to get some more of this language s endless grammar in my head, and every so often it says things
                Message 7 of 26 , Mar 8, 2013
                  On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote:

                  >
                  >
                  > The so-called "tenses" of the subjunctive, optative &
                  > imperative are, of course, timeless, i.e. not tenses in the
                  > linguistic sense; but there were no timeless indicative tenses.
                  >
                  >
                  I'm working through Greek: An Intensive Course to try to get some more of
                  this language's endless grammar in my head, and every so often it says
                  things like "the tense in the infinitive is aspectual." It hurts my brain,
                  because that's not what *tense* means.

                  But I get their meaning. It's just a clunky way of talking about it.

                  It reminds me a bit of classical Hebrew, in which tense isn't marked but
                  aspect is. I suppose aspect is more fundamental than tense.

                  In fact, I can't think of a language that marks tense that doesn't *also*
                  mark aspect. I can think of a few that mark aspect but not tense (Chinese,
                  for example).





                  --
                  Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for
                  order from Finishing Line
                  Press<http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm>
                  and
                  Amazon<http://www.amazon.com/Second-Person-Patrick-Dunn/dp/1599249065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324342341&sr=8-2>.
                • George Corley
                  ... My assumption was that you were going to try to get your changes accepted by current Esperantists, which I doubt will happen. ... You must realize,
                  Message 8 of 26 , Mar 9, 2013
                    On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 3:05 PM, Matthew George <matt.msg@...> wrote:

                    > On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 4:01 AM, George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > >
                    > > The main issue is that, in the real world, we will rarely even need to
                    > deal
                    > > with this scenario because time travel does not exist (and may indeed may
                    > > be impossible).
                    >
                    >
                    > I grant your point. But the same objection can be raised to any conlang
                    > work.
                    >

                    My assumption was that you were going to try to get your changes accepted
                    by current Esperantists, which I doubt will happen.


                    > > I don't see much point in optimizing a language for a
                    > > specialized domain that many people will never use.
                    > >
                    >
                    > For the utilization of the people that might use it. As a fan of SF, I
                    > often find myself annoyed by the shoddy plotting of time travel in various
                    > popular media, but explaining why to others is often tedious and complex.
                    > And I want to start off my conlanging on something relatively simple.
                    >

                    You must realize, however, that that is a highly specialized use of
                    language. I would really doubt that any language would create new
                    grammatical categories based on the needs of one specific genre of
                    fiction. It would just be too rarely used and quickly atrophy into nothing.


                    > Besides, I might write a story or novel about Esperantists...from The
                    > Future! and it would be convenient to have a language that can easily
                    > describe
                    > complex meta-temporal situations.
                    >

                    Then create your modified Esperanto and make it part of the time travel
                    story. You do not need any permission to use or alter an existing language
                    for fictional purposes. Languages cannot be copyrighted, and the worst you
                    will get will be some trolls hating on you (which will happen anyway to any
                    creative work that a sufficient number of people know about).


                    > > Why not? Esperanto is effectively a living language. It was always
                    > > intended to be a community project, and I don't think Zamenhof would mind
                    > > people tinkering with it, as he didn't really mind when he was alive.
                    > >
                    >
                    > Especially since I doubt I'll be taking away or altering any of the
                    > existing content. I chose Esperanto because 1) it's relatively logical and
                    > grammatically straightforward, 2) it's a far better subject than English,
                    > which is terrible, 3) it's a plausible auxlang for the future(s), and 4) it
                    > reminds me of *Red Dwarf*.
                    >

                    I'll just say this:

                    1) Can't really comment. Esperanto is certainly _simpler_ than many other
                    languages, in a sense.
                    2) Depends on your goals. I like natural languages, so I'm more inclined
                    to think future English is an interesting challenge.
                    3) NO! I'm sorry, but Esperanto has an extremely tiny chance of achieving
                    its original goal of becoming a global lingua franca. It has no military,
                    economic, or cultural power to leverage into becoming such a language. It
                    has about as many speakers as many minority language, but spread across the
                    world without a sizeable center. There are very few scenarios where I
                    could see Esperanto gaining that kind of traction.
                    4) I have no idea why that is, having never seen _Red Dwarf_
                  • Anthony Miles
                    On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM, R A Brown wrote: IIRC correctly, only polarity is more basic than aspect.The verbs in my conlang
                    Message 9 of 26 , Mar 15, 2013
                      On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote:

                      IIRC correctly, only polarity is more basic than aspect.The verbs in my conlang Siye runs on a perfective/imperfective aspectual duality. When I compose in Siye, I find that I seldom need an indicator of time once the situation is clearly described. OTOH many suffixes are associated with one aspect. E.g. the Simayamka (Siye-speakers) associate -te- (to want) with the imperfective, -ka- (to intend) with the perfective.

                      >
                      >
                      > The so-called "tenses" of the subjunctive, optative &
                      > imperative are, of course, timeless, i.e. not tenses in the
                      > linguistic sense; but there were no timeless indicative tenses.
                      >
                      >
                      I'm working through Greek: An Intensive Course to try to get some more of
                      this language's endless grammar in my head, and every so often it says
                      things like "the tense in the infinitive is aspectual." It hurts my brain,
                      because that's not what *tense* means.

                      But I get their meaning. It's just a clunky way of talking about it.

                      It reminds me a bit of classical Hebrew, in which tense isn't marked but
                      aspect is. I suppose aspect is more fundamental than tense.

                      In fact, I can't think of a language that marks tense that doesn't *also*
                      mark aspect. I can think of a few that mark aspect but not tense (Chinese,
                      for example).
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