0191: "Lojban"

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kertrats
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0191: "Lojban"

Postby kertrats » Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:23 am UTC


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no-genius
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Postby no-genius » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:04 am UTC

OK, but what does the alt text mean? I'm asuming it's 'thought of it for a while...' or something like that. :?
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Postby kertrats » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:17 am UTC

humorously false things that there is being false, request yes/no? you does having friend me.

Or so says the internet.

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Postby pwill » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:19 am UTC

I think it's something like "Funny you don't want to be friends with me."
lol wut

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Postby thebestsophist » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:41 am UTC

My question is what if I like language with ambiguity?

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Postby no-genius » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:47 am UTC

thebestsophist wrote:My question is if I like ambiguity?
I don't sing, I just shout. All. On. One. Note.
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The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:Why? It does nothing to address dance music's core problem: the fact that it sucks.

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Postby Pathway » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:47 am UTC

pwill wrote:I think it's something like "Funny you don't want to be friends with me."


that's what kertrats said!

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Postby Peripatetic » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:51 am UTC

The problem with all of these constructed languages is that they are trying to fix "problems" without understanding the "problem". Inconsistency in language reveals history, as proved by Spelling Bee champs who use a word's language of origin to deduce the spelling of a word. Also, even if everyone adopted Lojban as the international language, it wouldn't be long before it fractured into multiple local dialects, and not much longer before those dialects became mutually unintelligible.

Plus, Lojban loses for eliminating polysemy. When I walk into a bar and order a double entendre, I want the bartender to give it to me.

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Postby Jerf » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:59 am UTC

I've actually thought about the ambiguity thing somewhat in an odd context: Communication with aliens.

Suppose the aliens swoop down, beam you on their ship, and start trying to build a language to communicate with you. Sure, you might try to start with simple arithmetic, but that doesn't get you very far. So eventually you're going to want to progress to some variant of first and second order logic.

I think one of the first things you'd want to set up is an "uncertainty" symbol, to indicate the level of ambiguity in the expression. At the mathematical/logical level, there's a world of difference between "There are six billion people in the world" and "There are six billion people in the world +/- ~15% w/ 95% confidence." The latter is what I really mean if I say in normal conversation that there are six billion people in the world, but I'd want to spell it out to aliens.

Another thing you'd want to set up, and this is no joke, is "I am 90% certain that this is 90% accurate." If they start quizzing you on things, you want to be able to indicate when you're just guessing, vs. when you are sure.

This reminds me of what I always thought was just about the funniest idea ever in computer science, the AI/Machine Learning concept of "Probably Approximately Correct" (PAC). You can talk about a given learning system (neural nets, decision trees, what have you) having a certain probability of being a certain degree of correct. That is, if I apply this neural net algorithm against this distribution of data, say, 87% of the time I'll end up with a neural net with 95% accuracy; the other 13% of the time I'll end up with less accuracy. (The idea is that each time you're getting a different sample out of a large set, not the same sample over and over again; even deterministic algorithms have associated PAC numbers.)

Of course, you can't actually know these numbers with any non-trivial learning set so there's margins of error on those, too...

The idea is perfectly reasonable, but I still get a kick out of the name, which seems like an awful lot of equivocation and hedging for a mathematical concept.

Anyways, back on target, something like Lojban might be cool to use for alien communication but it'd probably need to be modified to include certainty adjectives and adverbs. I'm no expert but I don't remember seeing them when I last looked at it.

I suppose if I had to summarize this whole thing, I'd go with "Too much precision in your speech can be just as bad as too little. AFAIK, Lojban solves one problem at the cost of completely bailing on the other. Not a win."

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Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:03 am UTC

no-genius wrote:OK, but what does the alt text mean? I'm asuming it's 'thought of it for a while...' or something like that. :?


[Humorously] That's false. Please, will you be my friend?

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Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:05 am UTC

Peripatetic wrote:The problem with all of these constructed languages is that they are trying to fix "problems" without understanding the "problem". Inconsistency in language reveals history, as proved by Spelling Bee champs who use a word's language of origin to deduce the spelling of a word. Also, even if everyone adopted Lojban as the international language, it wouldn't be long before it fractured into multiple local dialects, and not much longer before those dialects became mutually unintelligible.

Plus, Lojban loses for eliminating polysemy. When I walk into a bar and order a double entendre, I want the bartender to give it to me.


Lojban wasn't created to fix any problems. Lojban was created to amuse me. (Well, not really, but it really wasn't intended to "fix" anything.)

And while it's true that Lojban eliminates most (if not all) forms of grammatical and morphological ambiguity, I don't think it's possible to eliminate semantic ambiguity. It hasn't gone anywhere.

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Curious?

Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:07 am UTC

And, not to troll/advertise too heavily, if you're interested in Lojban, you can check out http://www.lojban.org, or come hang out with us in freenode #lojban. We're a friendly bunch of geeks, I promise!

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Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:10 am UTC

thebestsophist wrote:My question is what if I like language with ambiguity?


Then, um, keep speaking English. Last I checked, there was no Universal Decree of Lojban Speech.

For those of us who study it, it's a toy. A very geeky toy.

I bet you have some geeky toys, too.

:-D

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Postby aldimond » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:52 am UTC

bancus wrote:
thebestsophist wrote:My question is what if I like language with ambiguity?


Then, um, keep speaking English. Last I checked, there was no Universal Decree of Lojban Speech.


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Postby ohki » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:24 am UTC

But where would all the puns go? It would ruin things like the "Can I have a few pointers" strip :(
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Postby thebestsophist » Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:25 pm UTC

bancus wrote:For those of us who study it, it's a toy. A very geeky toy.

I bet you have some geeky toys, too.

:-D


Symbolic Logic! Hmm...
Lojban + Symbolic logic == ???
Brilliant!

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Postby Gelsamel » Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:30 pm UTC

Told about this lojban stuff before it seemed interesting.

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Postby TheTankengine » Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:55 pm UTC

That just confused me.

You might ask, "Which specific element confused you?"

I would reply, "That one."
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Postby Tropylium » Fri Dec 01, 2006 2:25 pm UTC

I don't actually speak the language, but I am a conlang hobbyist… I've gotten the impression that the basic concept of Lojban was not to eliminate all ambiguity, but rather syntactic ambiguity. Ie. it's perfectly clear what each word refers to (by means of predicate logic) but it'll be just as subjectiv whether a piece of slightly curved earthenware will be a plate or a bowl. (Also, bancus, if I am off the track too - as you do seen to speak it - do correct me.)

BTW, there exists a MUCH wider a selection of constructed languages than just those intended for "fixing stuff". You all kno' at least the fantasylangs (Quenya, Klingon, etc), and then there's stuff like "what kind of a language would result if the Japanese had colonized Hawai'i in the 15th century", or languages designed just to experiment with linguistics, or to just sound pretty and write a secret diary with. I'm quite a newbie in the field so I don't have much to sho' off that would be comprehensible for non-linguistics, but I do have projects all across the spectrum.

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Postby frostasis » Fri Dec 01, 2006 2:35 pm UTC

From the official Lojban site:

Image

...with the matching text style (and hosted on xkcd, even):

Image

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Postby Ellmist » Fri Dec 01, 2006 2:45 pm UTC

Tropylium is absolutely right. Lojban eliminates syntactical and phonetical ambiguities. For example, which word is the verb in the sentence "Time flies like an arrow," and the difference between "hair" and "hare".

But it is impossible to eliminate semantical ambiguity because it would take forever to clarify everything. Therefore, Lojban gives you complete control over what details you want to say and what you don't. For example, in English, you always have to give each verb a tense to tell what time something happened. But in Lojban, you can make your sentence more ambiguous because this is completely optional.

Lojban doesn't have many speakers, but I still think we can learn a lot from it because it's so different from everything else out there.

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Ambiguity is fundamental in language.

Postby lft » Fri Dec 01, 2006 2:52 pm UTC

I hadn't heard about Lojban before, so I started reading the wikipedia entry. This caught my eye:

All ... aspects of the language are thoroughly defined in ... "The Complete Lojban Language", 1997, very often referred to as "The Big Red Book" (lojban: barda ke xunre cukta)


How's that logical or unambiguous? "The big red hat" refers to a hat which is red, "the big green book" refers to a book which is green, but "the big red book" will in some contexts refer to a particular volume with the actual title "The Complete Lojban Language".

Still, tinkering with words and languages is fun, and I'm not trying to take your toy away. But ambiguity is IMHO what makes languages and words fun to toy with in the first place.

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Postby Gelsamel » Fri Dec 01, 2006 2:53 pm UTC

Everything is open for interpretation anyway, I doubt they've got a different word for everything therefore when someone says 'selfish' in lojban it's still open to what exactly they're talking about, for instance some would take 'selfish' as being a negative trait, whereas others may be using 'selfish' as 'concerned with self' and even then 'concerned' could be taken differently.


Edit: Yes lft, it's the origin of jokes! xD Where would we be without them.

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Postby beinsane » Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:38 pm UTC

I'd like to learn Esperanto, then go around acting like it's my native language and I don't speak any English.

...I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd like to do it.
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Postby fjafjan » Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:41 pm UTC

beinsane wrote:I'd like to learn Esperanto, then go around acting like it's my native language and I don't speak any English.

...I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd like to do it.


Because you are a human and not a nationality?
That is a reason i can respect :D
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Postby thebestsophist » Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:51 pm UTC

One of the original uses of the language is for research in the sapir-whorf hypothesis (linguistic relativity), however, I don't see exactly how that would work. While I understand how grammar and syntax of a language will define some of the limits of a language, it seems to me that with a robust and expansive enough language (which Lojban seems to be) the grammar ultimately does little to limit a language. I would imagine that the concepts and semantics would ultimately do more to limit a language system.

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Postby radiskull » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:02 pm UTC

Reminds me of a joke..

How many Lojbanists does it take to change a broken light bulb?

Two. One to decide what to change it into,
and another to find a bulb that emits broken light.

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Postby Umlaut » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:15 pm UTC

This completely breaks that adjective ass noun ambiguity too.

Weak ass sauce...

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Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:16 pm UTC

Tropylium wrote:I don't actually speak the language, but I am a conlang hobbyist… I've gotten the impression that the basic concept of Lojban was not to eliminate all ambiguity, but rather syntactic ambiguity. Ie. it's perfectly clear what each word refers to (by means of predicate logic) but it'll be just as subjectiv whether a piece of slightly curved earthenware will be a plate or a bowl. (Also, bancus, if I am off the track too - as you do seen to speak it - do correct me.)


I do speak it. I'm a member of the LLG and the language planning committee (although, all comment here are my own and not made on behalf of either body).

You are quite right. When I see "cmalu nixli ckule", I know that it's a (little girl) school, rather than a little (girl school). Now, what qualifies as a school? That's up to debate. Is a hermaphrodite who dresses like a girl a girl? Again, a matter of semantics. We haven't eliminated polysemy. There are a number of words with very broad meanings. We've just made it easier to make yourself clear. You can still be incredibly vague in lojban. (Moreso than in English, honestly, since English always has some vestiges of tense, for instance, where lojban doesn't.)

As an example, if someone came up to me yelling "fagri", I'd probably assume that he meant "Hey, the building's on fire! Get the fuck out!" Is that the only meaning? Not at all. It leaves up to context what's on fire, when it's on fire, etc. It could easily mean "In third grade, my friend Catherine was set on fire." Now, in the absence of a context to indicate that, I'd probably smack someone upside the head for being that vague, but you *could* be.

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Re: Ambiguity is fundamental in language.

Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:24 pm UTC

lft wrote:I hadn't heard about Lojban before, so I started reading the wikipedia entry. This caught my eye:

All ... aspects of the language are thoroughly defined in ... "The Complete Lojban Language", 1997, very often referred to as "The Big Red Book" (lojban: barda ke xunre cukta)


How's that logical or unambiguous? "The big red hat" refers to a hat which is red, "the big green book" refers to a book which is green, but "the big red book" will in some contexts refer to a particular volume with the actual title "The Complete Lojban Language".

Still, tinkering with words and languages is fun, and I'm not trying to take your toy away. But ambiguity is IMHO what makes languages and words fun to toy with in the first place.


It's unambiguously a big (red book) rather than a (big red) book. No one ever claimed to make a language where everyone understands every referent unambiguously.

Lojban can still be ambiguous, semantically.

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Re: Curious?

Postby Torn Apart By Dingos » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:35 pm UTC

bancus wrote:And, not to troll/advertise too heavily, if you're interested in Lojban, you can check out http://www.lojban.org, or come hang out with us in freenode #lojban. We're a friendly bunch of geeks, I promise!

That sounded cool, so I decided to go there and idle for a while. But almost everything that's been said has been in English! :(

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Re: Curious?

Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:55 pm UTC

Torn Apart By Dingos wrote:
bancus wrote:And, not to troll/advertise too heavily, if you're interested in Lojban, you can check out http://www.lojban.org, or come hang out with us in freenode #lojban. We're a friendly bunch of geeks, I promise!

That sounded cool, so I decided to go there and idle for a while. But almost everything that's been said has been in English! :(


That'll probably change a bit when more fluent folks wake up. Early in the morning it's mostly newbies. The rest of us tend not to get online until 10AM Pacific.

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Re: Ambiguity is fundamental in language.

Postby wisnij » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:57 pm UTC

bancus wrote:
lft wrote:
All ... aspects of the language are thoroughly defined in ... "The Complete Lojban Language", 1997, very often referred to as "The Big Red Book" (lojban: barda ke xunre cukta)

How's that logical or unambiguous? "The big red hat" refers to a hat which is red, "the big green book" refers to a book which is green, but "the big red book" will in some contexts refer to a particular volume with the actual title "The Complete Lojban Language".

It's unambiguously a big (red book) rather than a (big red) book. No one ever claimed to make a language where everyone understands every referent unambiguously.

Speaking of which, is there a good reason for modifiers to be left-associative like that in Lojban? Granted either way would probably work as long as it was consistent, but it seems like "adjective (adjective noun)" would be a more common use case than "(adjective noun) noun".
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Postby beinsane » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:30 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:
beinsane wrote:I'd like to learn Esperanto, then go around acting like it's my native language and I don't speak any English.

...I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd like to do it.


Because you are a human and not a nationality?
That is a reason i can respect :D


Er, no. More to irritate people.

(But if most Esperantinos are inspired by that sort of hippie pap, I think I'll stick with the Lojban types.)
Hello, this is bein, and I pronounce "bein" as "bein".

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Postby bancus » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:54 pm UTC

beinsane wrote:
fjafjan wrote:
beinsane wrote:I'd like to learn Esperanto, then go around acting like it's my native language and I don't speak any English.

...I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd like to do it.


Because you are a human and not a nationality?
That is a reason i can respect :D


Er, no. More to irritate people.

(But if most Esperantinos are inspired by that sort of hippie pap, I think I'll stick with the Lojban types.)


Again, not to troll, but I am also an Esperantist, and I have found a distinct amount of other Esperantists who are radical socialists and the like, looking to unite the world with one language.

By contrast, most Lojbanists are geeks looking to expand their minds. We also have a strangely large contingent of Singularitarians, who look forward to the day we can speak to computers with Lojban (Shit, so do I, and I'm not even a singularitarian), but they're all pretty realistic about it.

We also have a lot of linux geeks. If anyone here is running a Debian-based distro, I might point you to apt-get install jbofihe lojban-common. (jbofihe is actually kinda deprecated, I have a .deb I made earlier this week of the new parser, but it's not in Debian proper yet).

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Postby fjafjan » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:21 pm UTC

beinsane wrote:
fjafjan wrote:
beinsane wrote:I'd like to learn Esperanto, then go around acting like it's my native language and I don't speak any English.

...I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd like to do it.


Because you are a human and not a nationality?
That is a reason i can respect :D


Er, no. More to irritate people.

(But if most Esperantinos are inspired by that sort of hippie pap, I think I'll stick with the Lojban types.)


Because nationalism is such a great thing :roll:
//Yepp, THE fjafjan (who's THE fjafjan?)
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Postby beinsane » Sat Dec 02, 2006 12:57 am UTC

fjafjan wrote:
beinsane wrote:
fjafjan wrote:
beinsane wrote:I'd like to learn Esperanto, then go around acting like it's my native language and I don't speak any English.

...I'm not entirely sure why, but I'd like to do it.


Because you are a human and not a nationality?
That is a reason i can respect :D


Er, no. More to irritate people.

(But if most Esperantinos are inspired by that sort of hippie pap, I think I'll stick with the Lojban types.)


Because nationalism is such a great thing :roll:


That's not what I said. I'm neutral towards nationalism in the abstract, but I absolutely despise pap. ('Course, in practice, most nationalism is pap too...but I'm not in the mood to have this argument.)

And yes, I'm aware of the irony of getting misunderstood in a thread about Lojban.
Hello, this is bein, and I pronounce "bein" as "bein".

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Postby EvanED » Sat Dec 02, 2006 3:38 am UTC

Ellmist wrote:Tropylium is absolutely right. Lojban eliminates syntactical and phonetical ambiguities. For example, which word is the verb in the sentence "Time flies like an arrow," and the difference between "hair" and "hare".


Ahhhh, thanks for that example. I skimmed the Wikipedia link at the top of the thread and was like "that's a load of hooey", but this (and the other comments about the level that Lojban has and doesn't have ambiguity) makes a lot of sense.

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Postby zosia » Sat Dec 02, 2006 3:39 am UTC

Tropylium wrote:I don't actually speak the language, but I am a conlang hobbyist… I've gotten the impression that the basic concept of Lojban was not to eliminate all ambiguity, but rather syntactic ambiguity. Ie. it's perfectly clear what each word refers to (by means of predicate logic) but it'll be just as subjectiv whether a piece of slightly curved earthenware will be a plate or a bowl. (Also, bancus, if I am off the track too - as you do seen to speak it - do correct me.)

BTW, there exists a MUCH wider a selection of constructed languages than just those intended for "fixing stuff". You all kno' at least the fantasylangs (Quenya, Klingon, etc), and then there's stuff like "what kind of a language would result if the Japanese had colonized Hawai'i in the 15th century", or languages designed just to experiment with linguistics, or to just sound pretty and write a secret diary with. I'm quite a newbie in the field so I don't have much to sho' off that would be comprehensible for non-linguistics, but I do have projects all across the spectrum.
Exactly. Most language creation is more about making or breaking than about fixing problems or supposed problems. I too am a glossopoetess, engaged in glossopoetry (my personal term for conlangery, from glosso+poetes). I mostly make languages and words, sometimes i use glossopoetry to try to break universals or to see how language works (like taking apart your computer to see how to put it back together, but less expensive)
I am glad to see glossopoetry being welcomed among geekery! :twisted:

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Postby shine_and_shing » Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:58 pm UTC

And to think, here I am learning lame, mundane and COMMON languages!

woe!
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