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This Chemical Element Stuff

Message-Id: <m0jYKVJ-0001vuC@snark.thyrsus.com>
la djan. kau,n pu frati befi lemi cusku be'o cusku:
>la nitcion. pu cusku di'e:
>> This, regrettably, is where the concepts "metaphor
>> as the real world understands it" and "metaphor as JCB construes it" get
>> mixed up. 

Actually, I've been reading some linguistics for the past, oh, thirty
six hours (well, the "mass of" really), and I now see why JCB got the two
confused: one interpretation of semantics, which has to do with predicates
(yum!) holds that in metaphors, the place structure of one predicate is
transfered to another. Thus "Green ideas sleep furiously": inter alia,
ideas get transferred into themselves the place structure 'n' stuff of
'animate thingummy which can be green'.

This is metaphor; but the similarity between this and tanru seems to me very

>> some lojbani schmuck 
>       ^^^^^^^
>Is this the analogue of "Kuwaiti", "Israeli", etc?

Indeed, sir. Sounds a lot better than Lojbanistani. %^)

Though maybe we shouldn't joke about such matters. Lojbanistan can be construed
as a fairly token term, and the Arab world is one of the few parts of the
world where Esperanto has made no inroad (the other being India), suggesting
perhaps we should tread a tad more carefully. Certainly more carefully than
the extraordinary article by lojbab in JL14 (I'm sorry I keep harping on
about this article, but it is an excellent example of non-linguistic molding
or perception of reality, a quasi SapirWhorfism, if you will. To an Arab,
to a leftist, to an environmentalist, I dare say to too large a number of
people, Lojbab's praise of the allied troops' bravery is incomprehensible if 
not provocative. ("It's not as if they fought", a member of my family keeps
grumbling). I'm not saying you should abandon all political context in a
"culture-free" wannabe language: that really *would* be cultural nullity.
And I'm not saying you should stop being a patriotic american, an affliction
many of you may be suffering from %^) %^). But I'd think twice before using
that as one of the few "approved text" samples of the langauge, in a context
in which Lojbab seems to be talking as language expert, rather than as an
individual. Recall that, whether we like it or not, every *breath* Lojbab
takes is prescriptive at this point in the language.)

That last statement will generate more flames than anything I'll say about
gismu, I'll bet. At least it'll help you define your biases more clearly
(because the lojban comminuty DOES HAVE and will continue to have biases.)
Back to regularly scheduled program.

>> The criteria for selection of cultures suck, and I suggest
>> someone propose a batch more of 'em for next Logfest
>What criteria would you propose? I'll post the current criteria in a 
>companion message.

Note that I didn't mean "me" by "someone" %^). It's a nontrivial problem,
and I personally would go inclusive rather than exclusive. I'd set a limit
of 50million speakers rather than 100million,but this is subjective. What
I still suspect is that the current list is too exclusive. Suspicions are
all very well, but what the language needs is quantitative criticism, which
I don't feel I can provide. This applies to all facets of the language:
if you're going to propse a modification, use data, not hunches.

>I think the heavy hand is going a bit too far.  "rozgu" may not be especially
>useful as the modifier in a tanru, but (like the other plant and animal
>terms) it's highly useful as the modificand.  There are all kinds of roses,
>bears, etc. etc.  Omitting the "natural kind" gismu forces us into using
>cmene-fied or le'avla-fied Linnaean binomials for >everything<, including
>many common objects.  Do you want to exclude "remna" from the gismu list,
>on the grounds that "xomrsapieni" does just as well?  I hope not.
>The list of 1-place gismu may need some weeding, especially in the more
>arcane parts, but not total elimination.  I think "le ci cribe" would be
>poorly served as "le ci danlrxursusorribili".

Well, John, what you're saying seems reasonable, but has nothing to do with
the 'tanruability' criterion. {le dan,lxomosapienti.} is a pain, but so is
the corresponding one for lobster, or amoeba (I'm alluding to Lojbab's
letter in JL13, "gismu are not prims!") The fact is that le'avla are a 
massive pain, but we haven't realised it yet, because we've gismu'd the
ones we wanna talk about. The only argument left for gismuing these things
is frequency of use, and use in metaphors in source languages is a (very poor)
heuristic to find this out. If you want the argument of frequency for gismu-
ification, state it. And by the time you get to chem elems, you'll find your
heuristic is pretty poor. {nikle} indeed!

>>Because BAI looks awfully diletantish
>>to me. ("Superinclusive"? Really? If there's a semantic theory on prepositions
>>or something such out there, avail yourselves of it. A language like lojban
>>cannot be designed with the happy-go-lucky empiricism of a Zamenhof. You
>>need to know exactly what you're doing.)
>Would there were such a "case theory" satisfactory enough to use.  If we
>had that, we wouldn't need the magic place structures.

Hm. In my 36 hour experience of Grammar, I see Fillmore's case grammar dissed
a lot. Is it really that worthless, bearing in mind that we are still in
a prescriptive, rather than descriptive phase of the language?

What's that? Whorf alert? well who cares - to me Lojban seems a lot more
like an investigation of Predication analysis of lexical item - to have
all lexical items as predications in surface structure may well be interesting.

Indeed, with all this kerfuffle on elidable terminators, I've suddenly
realised that all you need is the terminators unelided in deep structure,
and transformations to elide them into surface structure. Drawing up
these transformations should not be that hard, and will usually not be
context dependent. I've only had 12 hours of TG (well, the "mass of",
actually); anybody out there feel confident enough to have a go?

co'omi'e mi.