(From Lognet 91/2. Used with the permission of The Loglan Institute, Inc.)
Lo Lerci (Letters)
Letters policy: Unless otherwise stated, letters sent to The Institute, JCB, or any editor will be considered as offered for publication. But it would be good if the writer explicitly offers. We reserve the right to edit letters, mostly just to drop material that has to do with ordering books, etc. Sometimes a given correspondent will have several letters in the hopper, so to speak, and we will combine them into one purely for the sake of clarity. We’d be most grateful if you’d enclose a soft copy of your letter on a disk. We can handle most word-processors and having your letters on disk will save us a lot of typing.—Tisra
Dear Dr. Brown:
Re: your [and Bill Greenhood's] "Paternity, Jokes and Song" essay: Wonderful! There were a few places [where] the language of your argument got a tad confusing, but it’s the first scenario that I’ve encountered that “feels right”. I believe that including this or a version of it in Loglan 0 would be a good idea. I’ve run the thesis that song predates speech past many of my friends (a group in which somewhat serious singers are heavily over-represented) and gotten strong “Yes, that feels right” from them as well.
Re: Getting Online. There is a relatively new electronic service called America Online which costs nothing to join and only about $6/hr connect time. My roommate has been using it and it seems like it might be useful for the Institute. I enclose a starter pack.
P.S. Isn’t it great to live in interesting times?
Bill Greenhood and I thank you for the appreciative words...always welcome, I assure you. Some mention of the paternity hypothesis of language origins might be useful in Loglan Zero. That, of course, will be up to Steve. But now let's see what evolutionary scholars make of our idea. (Djori Campbell is referring to the long paper that Bill Greenhood and I are publishing in theJournal of Social and Biological Structures this year; see LN91/1:19 for more details. When last I heard, the body of this paper was planned for the autumn issue of this quarterly, comments by other scholars and our own rejoinders to appear in the winter one.) Thanks, too, for the America Online starter kit. I believe we'll wait to actually execute one or more of the suggestions we've received for getting online until we're set up in California; see my SLS for news of this upcoming move.—JCB
In regard to Whit's suggestion for “Getting Online”, I would like to remind everyone that more than just “getting online” is involved; we need to qet online where we are speaking to the audience we desire to reach. The Institute has many foreign members who would benefit from the timeliness of an online service, but only if it is available to them. Is America Online only for America or is it also available to those in Australia, New Zealand and Europe? I don’t know, as I have not yet had the time to sign on to it. Will someone knowledgable tell us?
The next letter is from our New Zealand—recently moved there from South Africa—computer scientist, Chris Handley. Originally sent to JCB, it has something of interest for all of us.—Tisra
Dear Dr. Brown:
.... This term has been an absolute zoo and (like Alice) [I see we have another Carroll fan! — Tisra] I have been running frantically just to stay in the same place. Anyway, now that term has finished I can take a deep breath, look around and get down to some real business.... [like] spend[ing] some of my long-standing [Institute] balance on a Macintosh version of LIP. I might get the odd lunch hour to play with it.
Now that we are settled in at this new University, I have had to change direction somewhat.... I am [now] allied to the Graphics group, which has necessitated learning a whole new jargon (and C!). All of this does not leave a whole lot of time for extraneous activities .... so Loglan has been on the back burner for some time now, and unfortunately will probably remain so for some time to come.
The other time sink up to recently has been the organisation of the 1990 NZ programming competition. You may have heard that our lads won in Washington earlier this year. I am chief judge this year, so I have to run around collecting questions, solving them, assuring myself and others that they are unambiguous .... There is usually some sort of grammar question and this year I devised a minuscule subset of Loglan (would you believe 7 rules?). It is a travesty of Loglan, actually, but it will at least bring the name to the attention of a group of highly intelligent people, so we will see what comes out of it.
Bye for now. Even if you do not get onto a bulletin board, it would be very useful for me to have an electronic address. I use e-mail reasonably extensively, and the "charges" the University inform me of rarely come even to $10 per month.
The editor of this newsletter does have a Compuserve address, see the back cover. It is checked (loosely) on a weekly basis and I can be an intermediary until The Institute can work out something better. — Tisra
Dear Dr. Brown:
I have received the latest issue of Lognet some days ago. Thank you very much for sending it and for trying to update me on what is going on with Loglan. Although for the last few years I haven’t been an active member of the Institute (which I always wanted to be), I am very interested in what the Institute has to offer, its pursuits and goals.
I graduated from the University of Florida (finally!!), and I am working now. I have gotten an extension of my visa (practical training, they call it), and I am working for [a small Florida college where] I teach Spanish to first and second year students. I found that I perform better at a small college than at a big university. I feel very welcome and the people that I work with are very nice to me.
I hope, Dr. Brown, that I can be of some help to you and to The Loglan Institute. The monetary contribution that I am making is all I can afford at this moment (I didn’t know that moving can cost so much). Hopefully, I will try to send more in the months to come, if that is okay with you. I will also like to contribute to the Institute in a more active fashion. For that reason, I would like for you to contact me and tell me what I can do for the Institute and as they say: I am at your disposal.
I completely share the idea of spreading Loglan overseas. I also believe that overseas readers can be fertile soil for Loglan. With that in mind, I suggest to you, and am offering myself gladly, the translation of the new edition of Loglan 1 into Spanish. If you have already done so, the Loglan Institute will surely benefit from that, and I hope you will inform me on how to obtain a copy. I believe it is never too late. Now that the academic environment is not taking all of my time, I would like to learn more about Loglan. I am open to suggestions and I hope you will send me information about what is available to learn Loglan. I have access to Macintosh and IBM PC.I look forward to receive news from you again
We hear from the famous Paloma of "Hire A Gainesville Assistant" days. Welcome back! I applaud your volunteering to translate Loglan 1 into Spanish; this is the kind of concrete assistance that can really help spread this lovely tool of human thought around the world. I can hardly imagine a better way to learn Loglan than to translate L1! Any other takers for other languages?? — Tisra
Paloma worked with me during the winter and spring of 1986-87 preparing the several thousand-word database on which the borrowing algorithm was developed. She also became a wizard C-Prim maker, contributing nearly all the C-Prims that Faith Rich asked for to complete the Eaton Interface. Both were lasting contributions to the language. It is indeed good to have her working for The Institute again, this time as a volunteer. In response to her heroic offer to do a Spanish version of L1, I suggested that she first translate the English side of the inputs to MacTeach 1-3 into Spanish, and then do a Spanish L1 if there was still ink in her pen! As far as I know, she has embarked on this worthy project and we will publish her Spanish versions of the MacTeach series just as soon as she's completed them.—JCB
Dear Jim Brown:
I am happy to hear about all the activity around Loglan and its proliferation. I particularly enjoyed the Loglandic interpretation of the constitutional “Right to bear arms”. Would that Loglan were the arbiter on this and other issues!
Charles du Pont
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world were ready for logical free expression! It seems to me that the majority use language to hide (from themselves as much as anything else).— Tisra
Approximately a year ago I wrote to you and you sent me your flyer; it raised my interest to a higher level. I have since come across references to Loglan in some places I wouldn’t expect, such as a novel, and mentioned by someone writing a letter to a science-fiction magazine.
The only computer I have access to is an enhanced Apple IIe, but I have used this to teach myself to program in BASIC, and in the last several months, “C”. While I can’t write very large programs on the Apple IIe, it has taught me programming techniques.
I would like to learn more about Loglan, but I am unable to afford the books you offer at this time, nor do I have access to a computer necessary to run your software. Can you help in any way?
Codie Ray Hammons
I am happy to report that The Loglan Institute and an anonymous donor were able to donate books, cassettes and a two-year membership to this person. From the wording of this particular letter, I wonder if Loglan isn’t being perceived as a programming language? It has been my experience (I am a Computer Consultant) that the first assumption is that Loglan is a programming language, and the immediate follow-on assumption (when I explain that it is ‘human-speakable’) is that it must be ‘New Esperanto’. Am I the only one with this experience? — Tisra
Hoi Tisra rie:
(1) I have some further thoughts on the naming issue which Michael Demoulin raised in LN 91/1. (a) What do we call Belgium? Or any polyglot country, for that matter? Note that selecting multiple names, one per significant language, does not solve the dilemma, because a speaker or writer can use only one name at a time...thus slighting all the others. (b) What are the (loglan-speaking) Martian colonists going to name their children and cities? Or, to put it more generally, what kind of names should logli come up with for things that don’t have names in any language?
(2) Re: James Jennings’ letter in LN 91/1, here are some other ways of saying ‘Loglan Spoken Here’. (a) Mia logla takna, literally ‘We loglanly speak’ or ‘We (are) Loglan speakers’. This form would seem very natural to a Slav; the Russian equivalent is 'My govorim po-loglanski ‘('We speak loglan-style’). (b) A variant on (a) is Mia logtaa. (c) If you want your sign to be relatively impersonal, it could say L[o]po logla takna vi hijra = ‘Acts of loglan speaking are here present’. (Vi can be replaced with ga with no real change in meaning; it cannot, however, be dropped.)
3) Re: Lo Cninu Purda in LN 91/1. (a) Re: 'missile'. I like flebomba: it avoids the thorny issue of whether the thing uses jet or rocket propulsion and goes straight to the heart of the matter—the delivery [through the atmosphere] of explosives. (b) Re: 'rocket'. I think the essence of a rocket or jet is two-fold: (i) propulsion by (ii) an escaping gas stream. So how about puorcaslo 'push-whistle'? (Caspuo 'whistle-push' is shorter, but its metaphor seems wrong to me; but for something as common as 'rocket/jet', brevity may be more important than metaphoric perfection.) Note that two further words are needed to capture the English distinction [between] 'jet' (air-breathing) and 'rocket' (non-air-breathing).
(4) Re: Sau La Keugru in LN 91/1. The idea of having two phonemically distinct pauses (the shorter one for [use] within serial names that include predicates, the longer one for other environments) bothers me. We’ve already strained the phonetic simplicity of Loglan by distinguishing /a/ from /y/ and /h/ from /x/; this adds to the strain. And it’s quite unnecessary, since we already have a scheme to deal with a similar problem, the serial Linneans. (See L1:458+.) The rules for inserting the spoken /y/ would be like this: (i) /y/ goes within a serial name at each non-terminal pause that separates a predicate from the rest of the name; (ii) /y/ goes with the predicate [if the other term is a non-predicate]; (iii) if the pause separates two predicates, or if the [predicate] following [the pause] starts with /y/, /y/ goes before the pause. Thus, la Nordi Ame'rikys would be pronounced as /laNORdiy.aMERikys/; la Krist Denli as /laKRIST.yDENli/; la Troflo Monca as /laTROfloy.MONca/; and la Kaptas Yterbio as /laKAPtasy.yTERbio/.
(5) L1:344-5 tells how to set up a deferred subject using ga (Ga groda loe damlandi gotca, ga loe monca gotca.) Can I do the same thing with any member of the PA lexeme? [Oi.—JCB] I want to translate ‘Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host’, which has a deferred subject if ever I saw one. Can I say ?Pa sudna kinci le gudspi, ga piro le gadhaa narmi? [Oi.—JCB]
(6) I have a suggestion to make LIP easier and faster to use: allow the arguments and files to be specified on the command line. When I use LIP, usually it’s repeatedly on the same file, as I make corrections on it; and during one session I always give the same answers in response to the prompts. The actual parsing goes fast enough; it’s going through all those screens and repeatedly typing the same file names that’s time-consuming! What I have in mind is that a Type 2 parse (a file all at once) can be specified all at once at the command line. For example:
PARSE -G LORDPRAY.TXT LORDPRAY.PRS
would produce a graphical parse of LORDPRAY.TXT into LORDPRAY.PRS without further action on my part.
Hue Bill Gober
Interesting ideas, Bill. Perhaps our resident computer guru can make that enhancement to LIP in the near future. (I make no promises for you, RAM!) — Tisra
Your point about two kinds of pauses being essentially bad if there are other, phonologically simpler ways of solving the "mixed names" problem, is well taken. But I don't think you've solved it yet. For one thing, your /y/-inserting solution is not much simpler, phonologically, than the two-pauses one. It uses the /y a/ distinction which you've pointed out is already problemsome. For another, it's dimorphic: written one way and spoken another. That may be forced on us in the case of the Linnaeans, but it's not forced on us in the case of mixed names. So let's throw the mixed names problem out for some public-think. How are we going to produce the Loglan equivalents of 'North America' and'Christ Day'? Isomorphically and phonologically simply? There is of course no problem with purely predicative names or purely nominal ones. La Troflo Monca ends with the first pause, and La Djan Pol Djonz bristles with pauses but they cause no problems. Thus it's only the mixed cases that present problems. Let's have some public-think on this.—JCB
How are things going? I ask for a reason, that is that I never received my copy of the 90/4 edition of Lognet. Either it got lost in the mail, or was never sent. If it was never sent, maybe things are very busy down there (with the dictionary, maybe? One can only hope). By the way, is James Cooke Brown the James Cooke Brown who wrote The Troika Incident? I ran across mention of the book, but haven’t run across [the book] yet.
.... Good news. I have found (made) another logli. She’s quite the beginner, has little time to learn, but is interested. One of the [two] cassettes [I've ordered] is for her .... (she already has a copy of Loglan 1).
Lognet 90/4 was issued as Lognet 91/1; if you have not received it, please contact The Institute. It was late due to change of editorship and experimental techniques of bi-coastal editing/production. Yes, our JCB is the JCB who wrote The Troika Incident (and also created the board game CAREERS). As to the new logli, congratulations! I am especially pleased that this new student of Loglan is female; we hairy ones far outnumber the fair half and I worry that we are building a language that isn’t representative of the feminine outlook. What a loss that would be, if true.— Tisra
We are busy with the new dictionary, Mike, and it's coming along beautifully! See my SLS for more news about it.—JCB
Dear Dr. Brown:
.... [I] am .... remitting my check and general support for LOGLAN before I get sidetracked again. As you are probably aware, I have not done anything in LOGLAN for many years, although I still have some interest in trying to learn a really new and different language. I have had very little time for this in the past two years, due to my increasing involvement in writing for a small circulation recreation/education computer newsletter.
Maybe in 1991 I’ll get up to increasing my comprehension of LOGLAN.
W. E. Dorion
Welcome back! On behalf of The Institute, thank you for the financial support and best of luck on increasing your Loglan this year.—Tisra
Let me say that people like Bill Dorion, who don't have time to actually learn the language but who support it year after year with their dues, their generous contributions to our occasional fund-raising drives, and their warm sentiments of support for all we're doing are very important members of our community. I don't know where we'd be without them.—JCB
Please accept the enclosed donation for the Scientific American ad.Have you considered placing an ad in Discover magazine? I find Discover is a very readable science magazine, and I think it sells many more copies than Scientific American. It seems to be on most newsstands. Another approach might be to try to get Discover to write an article about yourself and Loglan. This would be excellent free publicity, of course, as well as an interesting article in its own right. Discover often likes to write about the people behind the science as well as the science.
I’ve thought about writing a “letter to the editor” to Lognet [...and now you have, see how easy it is! — Tisra]. I’ve tried doing a few English-to-Loglan translations myself, of a silly off-color grade-school joke for starters and part of the Lord’s prayer. I’m not sure how to translate some things. [Translating is much more difficult than composing original Loglan, and the reason is not hard to find. When you're writing Loglan, you're thinking "loglanly", that is, in Loglan forms you already know. But when you're translating someone else's necessarily non-Loglan thinking into Loglan, you have to find a way of saying it in Loglan. That always entails deciding what the writer "really means" and sometimes requires a fairly deep philosophical analysis. Casting non-Loglan thoughts into Loglan sometimes also requires one to invent whole new Loglan forms, and that is seldom easy.—JCB] It might be nice to have an open column in Lognet where readers are encouraged to submit their specific translation questions, to be answered by one of the experts. [It would be wonderful to have such a column, but we'd need an expert translator to run it. We only have one such person, Dr. McIvor; and he's so busy with his very pleasant dictionary work these days, that I hate to even suggest it to him. Later in this issue (page 15, #11) I'll mention a potential "How to Say It" columnist I have in mind. What do you say we ask the new columnist, if we get da, to field translation questions, too, for awhile? Later, RAM might very well enjoy writing a column dedicated specifically to translation problems.—JCB]
For example, ?Hoi lemia farfu vi lo sento ganta s[i]tfa. [...not setfa, Phil; think of 'site'.—JCB] I don’t think Hoi and lemia belong together. [You're right; they don't. Hoi takes the place of either la or a descriptor to create a vocative. If you put Hoi in front of a complete description, the current parser treats it as a free-floating modifier of the whole utterance (probably it shouldn't, RAM, but reject the utterance as malformed?).—JCB] [Consider] ?Hoi farfu je mia vi lo sento ganta sitfa. Does the vi then describe the location of the farfu or the mia? [Neither. You have solved the vocative problem; you have made one out of Hoi Farfu je Mia, which now means 'O Father of Me-and-Others'. But there's a problem with your original utterance that you haven't noticed, and that is that a PA-phrase like vi lo sento ganta sitfa is a sentence modifier having roughly the same status in an utterance as an argument, and so not a local modifier at all. To turn it into an argument modifier, which is what is needed here, we've got to put either a ji or a ja in front of it, our choice depending on whether we want the phrase to identify or predicate the referent of the argument we're modifying. In this case it's pretty clearly—but not absolutely certainly (O, the perils of translation!)—identification that's intended. So we use ji and try ?Hoi Farfu je Mia ji vi lo Sento Ganta Sitfa. Now we do have a local modifier; and we're ready to answer your next question: Is it Mia alone, or is it the whole vocative Hoi Farfu je Mia that is the modificand of this vi-phrase? As it stands, it's Mia: it is Me-and-Others who are said to be located in the mass of "Sacredly High Places". To make it modify Our Father, we've got to close off the je-clause with either gue or one of its allomorphs, gu or the pause-comma. I'd use gu here so that the whole vocative can be spoken breathlessly...as we generally do pronounce it in English: 'Our-Father-Who-art-in-Heaven (pause)'. Finally we've got something that says approximately that: Hoi Farfu je Mia gu ji vi lo Sento Ganta Sitfa. But now for total clarity, we have to do one more thing to this vocative. We have to separate Sento from Ganta with ge so the predicate string won't mean 'Sacredly High Places', which I think is not intended, but 'Sacred among High Places', which I think is...though of course in Loglan either metaphor would do. Take your choice. But whatever you choose, the structure of the Loglan metaphor will be clear.—JCB] I was tempted to invent a complex word for “heaven” out of the affixes of sento ganta sitfa. Loglan 1 describes how best to do this. But what I’m not clear about is whether every speaker of Loglan should be (or is “allowed” to be) doing this for daself. [Yes, definitely yes. But then after using such neologisms in your own speech or writing, if you wish them incorporated into the Loglan dictionaries, you may propose them as new words to the Word-Makers Council through its Chairperson, Steve Rice. Practised word-makers are invited to take a seat on this council so as to participate in these decisions.—JCB] For if everybody has a slightly different metaphor for a word, or a slightly different favored grouping of affixes for a metaphor (within the rules), then we might end up with several different complexes which different speakers feel should be the right word for, say, “heaven”. [That's true; and it's these issues that the WMC will resolve...perhaps preserving both words to express slightly different nuances of the same basic concept. This is, after all, the way natural languages, too, increase in subtlety and precision.—JCB] I assume that “proper” complex-making is generally left to the Loglan Word-Makers Council, and that if a complex doesn’t (yet) exist for a needed word or idea, that a Loglan speaker should instead string predicates together to make a metaphor. Is this basically right? [Not really. You can, of course, do that. But you can also make new complexes ad libitum and try them, sending in the ones you like to the WMC for other people's use. It is true that the vast bulk of our post-1975 complexes—about 3,000 of them—have been made by the 20-odd word-makers who participated in the Eaton Interface project that lasted from 1983 through 1987. Individual metaphors were then kibitzed by at least two other word-makers, and the sets of alternative metaphors thus generated were eventually submitted to the Eaton Jury for their decision as to which was best. After Faith Rich died, this Jury consisted of Dr. McIvor and myself. We met on a daily basis during the three winter months of 1989-90 and again in 1990-91 to select the best of the competing metaphors, or in some cases to make better ones. The "winners" will appear in our new dictionary; see my SLS for news about that swiftly developing project.—JCB] I’m also curious about how strictly complexes should be interpreted. For example, from bilti cmalo nirli ckela, there might be a complex bilcmanilkea. Now bilti cmalo nirli ckela means 'a school for beautifully small girls'. But what if somebody wanted to make a complex for bitli cmalo ge nirli ckela, 'a girl’s school that is beautifully small'? Is there a way to make a complex for this construction? Do we care about this ge distinction when making a complex? Is a complex’s definition exactly that of its primitive roots strung together, or do we “decide” (in a Loglan dictionary) what the definition is, just as an English dictionary tells us what “understand” really means?
Good luck with getting The Institute self-sufficient.
Good questions; and the answers are, Not strictly and we do settle such questions in our dictionary. We've found that, except for no's, nu's, fu's, digit words and some of the non-numeric quantifiers, not many of the other little words that can appear in the full expression of a defining metaphor ever need to appear in its complex. (The favored LWs, by the way, have all been given CVr-form affixes; you can find them in Appendix D of L1. Ge is not among them.) What seems to be happening is that the "semantic grain" (as it might be called) of complex predicates is coarse enough that such finer-grained distinctions as could in theory be drawn between their defining metaphors by words like ge are simply not necessary to discriminate between the complexes themselves. So ?seorgansia would do just fine as your candidate for 'heaven'.
Thank you, Phil, for your good wishes and your contribution to the Wordwide SA Ad Fund. We'll look into Discover. It might be good to combine it with the wider SA net. Perhaps you'd suggest to Discover that they do an article on Loglan and/or me. I'm not very good at that sort of thing. Be our agent!—JCB
.... The other day I noticed that there was a "Usenet news group" .... which talks about language from the point of view of science. (....Usenet is a computer communications system commonly found on Unix machines that works like an international bulletin board and/or electronic conferencing system.) For the last few weeks I have been monitoring the conversations in this group and it doesn't look like any of you Loglan folks are tuned in. There was one person who asked if anyone had designed any artificial languages, and I was surprised that no one answered [with news] about Loglan. I sent him a message this morning and gave him your address, and in reply he said that he had been trying to find out how to get in touch with you! You should see if you can get one of the Unix people in your group to watch this news group and post a note about your GPA. If no one has access, I would be willing to post it for you. The .... "What is Loglan?" [document] might be the best thing to post if you can send it [to me] on an IBM PC 5.25" disk.....
Scott E. Lee
Thanks for the networking, Scott. Every little bit helps. I think I've heard already from the person you told about us; and rather than waiting to act on your suggestion until I've scared up a "Unix person" from among our members, I am taking the liberty of sending a soft copy of "What is Loglan?" to you to post.
Other people who are thinking of doing some networking for The Institute might also wish to upload this document. It's about 20K and in addition to answering the title question, it gives a brief history of the project and lists everything we are currently doing and selling.—JCB