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Re: New to Lojban
Hu'tegh! nuq ja' Logical Language Group jay'?
=NS> I've shifted over the years from being a formalist, fascinated by what
=NS> Lojban can do (and there is a beauty to that), to being a functionalist,
=NS> fascinated by what it isn't *designed* to do (non-formal semantics
=NS> (cognitive, prototype, etc.), pragmatics, discourse structure), and seeing
=NS> how people get around *that*.
=NS> In fact, given how much Lojban is committed to formal semantics, I think
=NS> the most important lesson it has to teach us is not how formal semantics
=NS> describes language, but how it fails to.
=I'd like to see you expound about this more sometime, especially your
=thoughts about what Lojban is and isn't designed to do and what you have
=observed as a result. I think this may be the basis for a "lessons learned"
=paper: what happens to pragmatics in Lojban (to the extent this is
=determinable)? What in particular does Lojban tell us about formal
=I don't hink Lojban is all that formal in its semantics - you certainly pushed
=things that direction with your lujvo paper, and the trend is continuing, but
=in terms of formality, we are nowhere near the level that we are in the
=formalism of the grammar.
=Here's your chance to get Lojban published academically! See any
Well, since you've stolen my thunder ;) : I do intend to do a journal article
on the small ways Klingon and Lojban have evolved past their designers.
However, to circumvent the obvious scepticism of linguists towards considering
such an article linguistics, let alone worth publishing, I was intending on
swamping the reader with corpus statistics. That means I would prefer to look
at phenomena that can be most readily inspected from corpora --- lexical
and syntactic phenomena. While I think there is a *fascinating* story to tell
about Lojban pragmatics; (a) I won't get it out of the current Lojban corpus;
(b) It's way too early for me to get it out of *any* Lojban corpus; (c) My
Sprachgefuehl for Lojban has been weakened by my long-time involvement with
Klingon (*) , to the extent that I don't feel confident about any
impressionistic comments I might make; (d) at a time where I'll have trouble
getting any article on Lojban published, the one thing I don't need is
impressionistic judgements. Hard data seems to me the only way to go at this
stage. A treatment of Lojban pragmatics may well have to wait until a lot more
spoken Lojban happens.
(*) Yes. I know. I *do* feel bad about it. I'm not about to stop working in
Klingon, either. I'd rather we not dwell too much on this.
Myself, I actually think that what is most exciting about Lojban's rigorous
approach to language is *not* its unambiguous syntax (I find syntax boring,
I don't believe LALR(1) is a particularly accurate model of human parsing,
and I find Lojbanic disambiguation of syntax pedantic, rather than
illuminating), but its attempt at a rigorous semantics, through its predicate
structure. Certainly, my lujvo talk has been an attempt to build on this.
It just seems to me where the real beauty of the language lies --- and that
its semantics is as rigorous as common sense will allow; no more. Of course,
linguistics for me *starts* at semantics, so this all is my personal bias.
There is nothing *new* that Lojban tells us about formal semantics, of course.
In fact, Montague semantics may well be more rigorous than Lojban --- not
having studied it, I don't know. But Lojban *is* unique in that it's the
only formal semantics with enough guts to try to map out an entire language.
The stuff linguists do tends to be single examples, or toy subsystems. My
reading in semantics is certainly not extensive, but I think the only
comparable work in semantics is Anna Wierzbicka's Natural Semantic
Metalanguage, and as I've been complaining in a previous mail, I don't think
it's heading in the right direction. (Though I *do* think Anna's stuff should
be recommended reading for all Lojbanists. In theory, at least, NSM has a
delicious rigour rather different to Lojban's, but very instructive. I just
think it's a pity the wannabe anthropologists have taken it over. And for
god's sake, don't tell any professional linguists I said that; I want to
get a job as an academic in this country one day! ;) ).