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Re: Good Clarifying Question

cusku fa la kris. di'e:
>> Could you actually give an example of an ambiguous sentence created
>> in this way? If there were a lujvo "mo'irda'a" we'd know that both parts
>> were rafsi because of the "r".  Is there some case I'm missing?

.i spuda fa la mark,l. di'e:
>This is a very good question for clarifying the issues involved.  Thanks
>for asking.
>Homophone affix ambiguity -- the fact that hundreds of short rafsi are
>identical to cmavo with unrelated meanings -- does not lead to the
>creation of ambiguous sentences.  The ambiguity does not "reach" to the
>sentence "level."  You can always disambiguate before the sentence is

Aaah, now I get it.  I found the term "Homophone affix ambiguity" confusing,
but I get what you're talking about now.

>You're listening to a Lojban utterance (or reading a Lojban text).  Along
>the stream of speech (or string of text) comes a form (such as CVV or
>CV'V) that you recognize immediately as being meaningful in Lojban.  Yet
>you cannot know its meaning as quickly, if it's one of the 295 such forms
>with two unrelated meanings; you must hesitate between the two possible

[I've cut out the rest of the description of this process for brevity...]

There are three ways of disambiguating these cases: morphologically (with
the problems you've outlined), syntactically (won't always work), and
semantically (problematic for new learners and would-be-AI programs)

Lojban utterances are *theoretically* disambiguable, so it doesn't matter
from a theoretical standpoint that the affixes match some cmavo.

>From a *practical* standpoint, lojban has vastly less ambiguity than any

>From a *learning* standpoint, the rafsi-cmavo overlap seems trivial compared
to a) homophony in other languages, and b) other hard-to-learn things about
lojban. I've been thinking about when to use abstractors outside of
"le..ku", how to use event contours, getting comfortable with the tense
system, the scope of quantifiers...  Learning two meanings for "da'a" is a
walk in the park! :-)

In short, I think you're right, but you overestimate its importance by
underestimating other competing difficulties.


A more thorough change that eliminated the distinction between rafsi and
gismu, or made one absolutely predictable from the other, would be more
defendable, because that really is a serious learning hurdle IMO.  But then
we're talking about a whole new language, really.
 Chris Bogart        \  /  ftp://ftp.csn.net/cbogart/html/homepage.html
 Boulder, CO          \/   cbogart@quetzal.com