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Re: Rafsi Repair Proposal: 1

> Okay.  My "Rafsi Repair Proposal" is an alternative to the current system
> of short rafsi & lujvo compounds in Lojban.  My primary purpose in
> proposing this alternative is to eliminate what I call homophone affix
> ambiguity, a defect of the current system in which hundreds of short
> rafsi are identical to cmavo with unrelated meanings.  I'd appreciate any
> _constructive_ criticism. My goals are:  to work with the existing gismu
> & cmavo; to provide at least one short rafsi for every gismu; & to
> eliminate homophone affix ambiguity.

I don't see the point of these proposals. The rafsi are baselined, so
these proposals have no practical purpose. But we are also interested
in how lojban might have been under ideal conditions, so I was interested
in what you would suggest. But then, if it were possible to redo
baselined stuff, then why stop at changing rafsi, when more radical
changes would effect so much the greater improvement?

Put another way, I can understand proposals to tinker with non-baselined
stuff, and I can understand descriptions of how lojban should be if
we could redo it all over again, but I can't understand proposals to
tinker with baselined stuff.

Also, "homophone affix ambiguity" is perhaps unfortunate, but surely
not so bad. There can never be any homophony ambiguity in utterances;
only when certain morphemes are wholly abstracted from context are
they homophones.

> The bottom line is that the Loglan/Lojban project is NOT in the least
> bit interested in proposals to "improve" the language.  We want to
> document the language, and use the language.

Well, I'm interested in proposals to improve the language. And if
they're non-baselined bits, then we should all be interested.

> The gismu place structures are also not baselined, but there have been
> more than enough attempts to rationalize them - the last one took
> around 6 person-months.

And there is still plenty of room for getting rid of excess places.
I'd ask Markl to have a go at reforming gismu place structures, since
those reforms have a chance of getting adopted.

> The language design phase MUST end.  New people are learning an
> essentially complete language design and there is no thought to going
> back to the drawing board on any of the issues that we expect a newcomer
> will be able to comment on. This doesn't mean that newcomers don't have
> a major role to play in the development of the language - but your role
> will be in the realm of usage, not in design.

There are still big gaps in the language, though. The semantics is
only done a little, and the syntax is complete only because total
garbage is deemed grammatical. By normal standards, there's still
a lot of design work left to do, and willing designers are surely to
be welcomed.

> Discussion of change, even as minor a discussion as the deeply technical
> issues relating to quantification of "lo", which bogged down Lojban List
> for a full year, pose a MAJOR threat to the completion of the language
> design - specifically the books.  All the people who might be doing
> useful work get tied up in examining the detailed issues, and attempting
> to get a feel for what each proposed change might do to the laanguage,
> and nobody does any WORK.

If the discussion of {lo} has retarded the books, the fault does not lie
with the discussion. First, the discussion of {lo} was not really about
change, but about what the nature of the present system is. Second, it's
through discussion that understanding of the language evolves. Third,
it is futile to write the books under the assumption that the semantics
is settled. There is no way it can get settled in time for the first
books, and the textbook presentation will just have to take that into

> Note that ANY change to the language that introduces the risk that some
> speakers will pronounce one syllable as two in word final position
> completely screws the morphology because you have lost consistency in
> determining the penultimate syllable to be stressed.

It's not clear that the syllabicity count is determined by the
pronunciation. More likely it's determined by rule. So there is no

> It becomes obvious from your later suggestions, though never stated
> explicitly, that your primary goal is to reduce lujvo syllable counts
> presumably by making most n-part lujvo n syllables (plus hyphens if you
> still have them).

That would be nice. It's complicated a bit by how one counts syllables;
I think it would be less biased to count letters instead, since we
all agree that {zbasu} has 5 letters, even if we don't agree how many
syllables or phonemes it has.

> This is not particularly desired nor desireable.

By me it is.

> It is ADVANTAGEOUS for lujvo to be longer in syllable counts than
> gismu (since they are more complex words, and generally also less
> common words - hence Zipf demands that they be longer),

Some words may get used less than they would were they shorter. To
judge a word's "natural" frequency, you need to allow for its
length. To test whether a word is too long, see whether it is more
frequent than average for words of the same length.

It's a shame, incidentally, that Zipf doesn't apply to cmavo. As
Jorge has noted, lots of lovely short cmavo never get used because
they do things like mex and font shifts.

> Finally your assumption that lack of syllables is a primary virtue
> is itself malglico.

You should be careful in flinging around this "malglico" label.
You need to demonstrate that there is a glico bias, and that it
is (se) mabla. In this instance, you will need to explain why
average utterance length does not vary between languages [I don't
know the exact reference, & haven't read it, but it has been
claimed]. You'll also need to explain why languages have ways
of shortening words, but very few ways of padding them out to
make them longer.

> Germans and Russians LIKE polysyllabic words in many cases - so
> do English speakers, when they wish to sound educated.

But English speakers like them for their etymology and register,
not for their length. Germans and Russians have ways of shortening
long words (e.g. gestapo, komsomol, etc).