(From Lognet 93/2. Used with the permission of The Loglan Institute, Inc.)
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 translate most word-processors and having your letters on disk will save us a lot of typing.—JCB
... I retired recently. I spent a career [in] computer software development. I’ve had an enduring interest in computer languages and personally built compilers. I, too, have a well-used copy of Reichenbach’s Elements of Symbolic Logic. [Actually, my old copy of Reichenbach is Experience and Prediction, his work on theory of knowledge.—JCB] When the Scientific American article on Loglan came out, I got copies of Loglan 1 and 4&5. [That must have been 15 years later, as the article came out in 1960 and bound books weren’t available until 1975.—JCB] To a small extent, I taught myself the language.
Your advertisement reached me at an interesting time. I had decided to use the language as a computer-based research tool for learning other subjects. The grand idea is to be able to, with a minimum of human assistance at each step, scan a document into the computer; translate it into Loglan to eliminate ambiguities; use artificial intelligence to obtain a knowledge representation processable by a machine; assuming [the existence of] a prior knowledge representation concerning the same subject, use the computer to generate inconsistencies and discrepancies; after editing, use the computer to reorganize the old knowledge representation to incorporate any new facts; and finally, use artificial; intelligence to answer any pertinent questions which might be posed.
To that end, I have just completed the first step, the use of the materials at hand to generate a Backus-Naaur form of Loglan’s syntax. In doing so I naturally found easily correctable inconsistencies, omissions, and deficiencies. In order to proceed, I documented them and incorporated solutions, being fully aware that my version of the syntax may be erroneous and in conflict with any other.
At the time I read your advertisement I was about ready to take the next step, a search for someone interested in verifying what I have done. It occurred to me, however, that your institution might make it possible to proceed faster and easier than expected.
What I want to know is:
Have you done what I have done? Perhaps all I need to do is compare what I have done with what you have done. I know that your interactive parser incorporates the syntax of the language implicitly. What additional materials are you able to part with that define it explicitly?
Is there anyone you know of who is engaged in a similar effort? Naturally, I would like to obtain agreement on a cooperative approach. In particular, are you aware of any academics here in Los Angeles who would appreciate some assistence in similar endeavors?
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Roy V. Bigelow
Already having the 1975 books, Reader Bigelow ordered only LOD. So we wrote him suggesting that, with his grammatical interests, he should also buy LIP, NB3, and the new L1 as well, the old one being pretty much out of date. I expect he will. We also suggested that he join The Institute, where he will be able to participate more fully in those of our activities that are grammatically oriented. This would include joining our several electronic networks, where grammatical issues are frequently discussed. Now to answer Roy’s specific questions. (I trust my answers will interest other newcomers to these pages as well:)
Have we done what he has done? Yes we have; we finished writing the first complete machine grammar of Loglan in February 1982. This, to the best of our knowledge, was the first unambiguous and machine-intelligible grammar to parse a large corpus of representative specimens of a speakable language. Notebook 1: The Machine Grammar & Corpus of Loglan, 1982, reports this result. (The Institute can easily reissue this notebook filler if enough logli are interested—say 10—to justify the copying expense.) The grammar—and the corpus that keeps it comprehensive—has grown considerably since that time, of course; but I am pleased to say that we have never had to depart from the condition of “conflict-freeness”—which is an index of its lack of syntactic ambiguity, of course—that we established for Loglan at that time.
What additional materials are we able to part with that define the grammar explicitly? A written specification of the current state of the grammar rules is available to students of the language, or to other interested grammatical workers, who agree to respect The Institute’s “intellectual properties.” These include its trade secrets, its trademarks, and its copyrights. Our policies on all these matters have been published in Lognet 90/1:16-17 and 90/3:26-27., and they have not changed. Back-issues are still available. Reader Bigelow, and indeed anyone interested in studying the current state of Loglan grammar, is advised to acquaint himself with The Institute’s legal position on these matters—which I am sure he will find both reasonable and more than generous to persons of good will—and then request a copy of the Non-Disclosure Agreement which we ask recipients of such documents to enter into with The Institute at such times.
Is anyone engaged in a similar effort for Loglan? The Institute itself maintains its grammar in a continuously conflict-free state. Our Chief Grammarian, Dr. Rober A. McIvor (familiarly, RAM) is chiefly responsible for this work; but anyone who has changes in the grammar to propose must first find out—normally with help from RAM—whether the proposed change would leave the grammar conflict-free; as indeed it must do before it can be seriously considered by the Loglan Academy, the Keugru (Caretaking-group). So indirectly, many logli are involved from time to time in extending and perfecting the grammar of Loglan. Dr. McIvor’s addresses are on the back of this Lognet.
Am I aware of any academics in Los Angeles who might need help in similar endeavors? As a matter of fact there is a group in LA, some of whose members are, I believe, academics and also Members of The Institute, who either have explored or are still exploring the possibility of using Loglan and its developing machine grammar in a.human-machine, multi-media context. It’s been a year or two since we here at the San Diego headquarters were last contacted by these logli, but I’d be pleased to put Reader Bigelow—or anyone else, for that matter—in touch with this group if they’re still working with Loglan in this area. Write me if you’re interested, and I’ll find out.—JCB
[After thanking James Jennings and Bob McIvor for helping him get our software going on his new Macintosh Color Classic, New Member Clanton continues.—JCB]
A biographical note: I myself was at the University of Florida for one year, in 1948, at the age of 19. [I taught at UF from 1955 to 1963, and again in 1970.—JCB] I ran out of money at that point and my parents weren’t able to help. So I enlisted in the Army for duty in the Medical Department (since I’d had a pre-med major in Gainesville). I went to Korea in December 1950, served as a surgical technician in the 8209 MASH, was discharged in the summer of ’52, and returned to college that fall at Florida State University [at Tallahassee]. There I vacillated back and forth for four-and-a-half years between a major in anthropology and a major in physics. Finally I got really sick of going to school; and since I’d accumulated lots of credits in mathematics, I decided to go ahead and graduate with a BA in mathematics, which I did, in January of 1956. I went to work a month after that as a computer programmer at Lockheed in Burbank. I worked there until I retired, in June of 1990, at which time I moved up here to Ukiah.
I became conversant with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis even before I got interested in anthropology, and long before I ever heard of Loglan. As for Loglan, I’m one of the people who was fascinated by your Scientific American article in 1960; but of course nothing came of my interest until I saw your 1975 advertisement for Loglan 1 and Loglan 4&5. I bought the books, and attempted to learn the language, but without any appreciable success. . When I saw your “GPA” ad in the recent April issue of Scientific American, I got fascinated all over again. So here I am.
Best wishes, Bert Clanton
All I can say is that Member Clanton’s large amplitude vacillation between anthropology and physics, with a sweep through mathematics and computer science on the upswing, seems to fit him admirably for post-professional life in Loglandia, where he will find many logli with similar interests. Welcome to Loglandia, Brt! And get involved; we need you. We have lots of things for retired folks like us to do!—JCB
Well, it’s been a little longer than I had originally thought, but now I can finally rejoin the Loglan Institute. Also, I would like another copy of Loglan 1 (I loaned my copy to someone and never got it back). ...
Since I’ve been away for a while, I need to catch.up, on all the news. ... [A]re Loglan 0, Loglan 6, and the [new] dictionary ready yet? (If not, when will they be?)
I have a special interest in L0. I think that I just might be able to teach a class in Loglan next semester here [in Lafayette], and L0 would be a lot better for that purpose than L1. I would also need the software and cassettes. What kind of a deal do you think [The Institute] can give me for a class of (presently) unknown size? I would try to help anyone who signed up gain a basic proficiency in Loglan. I feel that I should point out that this would be a course at Gumbo University, which offers self-enrichment courses, and not USL [the University of Southwestern Louisiana].
It would probably be a good idea if, before I taught such a class, I actually knew what I was talking about! Therefore, I’ll be ordering the MacTeach triad soon, along with the cassettes a little later. I did have Cassette 1, but that is now gone, too. Also, I think that I will be starting a study group here this semester regardless of the class.
As you may already know, I’m majoring in computer science. It is possible that I could, as a special project, do something involving Loglan and NLP (natural language processing). Probably it would be a parser and database manager. So I’ll be needing a printout of the current [formal] grammar. The one I have is dated.
My copy of LIP needs updating too, as its grammar is the same as my printed copy. Therefore I have sent it along with this letter.
Sincerely, Mike Demoulin
This letter arrived some time ago. Djori Maik got his updated LIP, a new listing of the grammar, and since then he has actually started a Lafayette Loglan Study Group with—at last report—three other people so far. The Institute was very happy to provide this group with a license to make as many copies of all its software as they might need provided they buy one master set at the Member’s price. (It turned out that this condition had been met, as Member Mike already had all our software except LOD, which he has since bought!) We also gave them 75% off of list price on as many copies of L1 and L4&5 as they might need provided we could ship them together. I believe we also provided the Lafayette Group with additional copies of C1-2—which are already heavily discounted—at the Member’s price of $6 each. We will give the same deal to any other Loglan study group that forms anywhere. So whip one up in your neighborhood, too!.
I hope we get frequent progress-reports from these four people in Lafayette, Louisiana as they climb the Loglan mountain.
The next letter is a translation into English by Member Kirk Sattley, who is also Editor of our aperiodic journal La Logli, of Canadian Member Gilles Dignard’s short article about Loglan in French which appeared last winter in a Canadian publication called the Papyrus. We thank all these participants for the privilege of republishing this short article, in English for our Lognet readers.—JCB
Hoi Raban, kae:
Here’s my quick-and-dirty translation of [Gilles] Dignard’s article on Loglan for the Papyrus:
ESPERANTO OR LOGLAN?
Language is a tool.
There is one tool that humanity lacks. Will we soon have an official universal language? Which one?
What people is prepared to abandon its native tongue? This means that an official universal language has no chance of success unless the majority of people adopt a systematic bilingualism, where the second language is the universal one. But will humanity choose the best tool? In what sense can one language be better than another? I offer some characteristics to consider. You know of Esperanto, but, what is Loglan? Theoretically, Loglan is a rival of Esperanto. Loglan was intended from the first to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which asserts that the constraints of language affect the functioning of human thought and the flowering of culture. It follows that a lightened (“unloaded”) simpler, language will be liberating, and have beneficial effects on individual thinking as well as on the evolution of humanity.
Loglan calls itself a language for today’s world:
grammar: a few hundred rules (where English has some 6,000);
syntax: no syntactic ambiguities;
logic: Loglan is completely [sic!] logical;
relative neutrality: the vocabulary is borrowed from eight widely-used languages: German, English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Hindi, Japanese, Russian [the language-names are in alphabetical order in French];
translation: Loglan is ideal for computer-aided translation.
For those interested in knowing more, a preliminary article on the subject appeared in Scientific American in June 1960 (author: James Cooke Brown).
If you would like a grammar, a dictionary, software, cassettes, and other services, get in touch with this organization:
[There followed The Institute’s name and address..]
Kerju, hue Krk
We thank Jil and Krk for this glimpse of Loglan from what is to us, here in Loglandia, an unfamiliar perspective: as a practical alternative to Esperanto—and, let’s face it, English—as that very necessary (Jil is right) second language for the world.—JCB.
The next letter came by e-mail.
My questions in this message all have to do [with] “supplements” to the basic text/treatise, Loglan 1. Is there a more complete errata sheet or booklet than the small slip of paper inserted about the 20 little words on the endpapers? I’m sure anyone studying Loglan 1 would like to know about all the changes.
My Christmas letter (1992) to you in which I paid for an ordinary membership and ordered most of your materials to study Loglan (books, cassettes, memorizing drill programs, parser) included an order for four back issues of Lognet (91/3-4 & 92/1-2, as it turned out). How far back, before 91/3, is Lognet available, and what is the price for members ($3 or $1.80?)...I may not have paid you enough)? [Lognet in its current, post-GPA magazine format, started with 1 issue in ’89, continued with 3 in ’90, 4 in ’91—a banner year that, soi crano; we actually produced a quarterly!—3 in ’92, and this one is the second issue in ’93 and we are determined to put out 93/4 by Christmas. Backcopies of LN are ordinarily $3 each, even to members. Uu. They’re expensive little books.] Lognet seems to be a good source of changes and corrections to Loglan 1. [You’re right. Up until now reading all the issues of Lognet has been the only way of keeping up with changes in the language since the publication of the 4th Edition. But there’s good news on that front. Kirk Sattley will be publishing an article in the first issue of La Logli that he plans to make a regular feature, and that’s “The L1 Updater.” There will be such an article in the first issue of LL each year, and it will report all the changes that have been reported in Lognet since the publication of the 4th Edition of L1. He plans to make each article a cumulative account of the then-current language, so that a newcomer to Loglan need buy only L1, the most recent “Updater”-bearing LL, and the few intervening LN’s, and n (that newcomer) will have it all.—JCB]
Other supplements to Loglan 1 I would like to find include an index and glossary. Of course, as I’m slowly working my way through Loglan 1 I’m pencilling in useful page references, such as for looking back at p. 127 (po pu zo) while pondering p. 191 (lopo lopu lozo), but it would be handy to have all the page numbers listed for each Loglan word and topic, so I can try explanations from different angles when I’m stuck and review the range of contexts as I begin to grasp the usage. Finally, after I’ve studied all my material several times and worked my way beyond elementary muddles, who should I write my questions to (e-mail preferably, although I’m a beginner at this too)? I’m not talking about questions of how Loglan is or should be designed but simply problems of learning to understand Loglan the way it is so far.
Surely, as you attract more people who want to give it a try, there will be lots of questions about the basics from beginners like me. Who should we ask? Will it be just one person, say Bill Gober, to handle the flood...that is, the possible flood of interest that Loglan deserves?
To take your last question first, Eric, there’re two e-mail forums, both of which are available through either CompuServe or Internet—or through any computer network with “gates” to either of these—which are dedicated to discussions of Loglan. One of them, called the “Loglanists List”, is for newcomers—not necessarily members—to meet logli who are willing and able to answer their questions. The other, called the “Logli List”, is for seasoned logli to meet each other electronically and throw some pretty mind-boggling questions at one another. It is in this second forum that new usages, and the solutions to tricky logical problems, are developed every day. The things that appear in Lognet these days are mainly by-products of this electronically-mediated work. Moreover, all the columnists and editors of Lognet and La Logli, all members of the Loglan Academy, and all but one member of its Board of Directors are on the Logli List; and a goodly number of these, especially those who are expert teachers, also monitor the Loglanists List for any questions from newcomers that come their way. Anyone can get on the Loglanists List. Just e-write me at The Institute’s e-address (see back cover) and I’ll tell you how to do it. And once you’re on the Loglanists List, you can address your question to any guru you like. When you’re ready for the Logli List, or if you feel you’re ready now, e-write me again.
As to your suggested “supplements,” I agree we need them all. You and others like you certainly deserve that index...even that glossary, especially if it’s organized, as you suggest, by Little Words, and showed where to find all the rules and published usages in which that particular LW appeared...well, “all” within reason. Let me suggest quite generally that people who want to work on projects of this sort are more than welcome, they are in fact urgently needed. In an organization like The Loglan Institute, in which all of the work (except composing and pasting up the camera-ready copy for Lognet) is done by volunteers, even useful projects, like that Index Project that started up a couple years ago (and almost got finished, as I recall!), have a way of getting pushed reluctantly aside when the personal lives of the tiftua—our “offering-workers”, as we call them, our volunteers—begin to make demands on their time and energy that Loglan (which has only beauty to offer in return) cannot compete with. When that happens—and it does fairly frequently, I’m afraid—there’s only one solution. That is to ask the tiftua who can’t finish the project in question to surrender it however sadly so that it can be turned over to some other worker.
So if New Member Hytnen would like to take on that Index, or that Glossary, or that Errata Booklet—or all three, god forbid (soi crano)—I will make it my business to collect the scattered materials that already exist on at least two these projects (the Index and the Errata file) and turn them over to him...or to anyone else who’d like to do it if Eric either doesn’t have the time, or would like to share these projects with some co-worker(s).—JCB