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Re: Some comments to mark,l

> In responding to these new questions, I first wish to emphasize that I
> have already withdrawn my "Rafsi Repair Proposal" & conceded defeat on
> this issue.  (...)

I did not write these comments because I wanted to add further arguments
against your RRP, but because I am the local semantic and cultural
nitpicker (well, I try, at least, to be, although I ju'o miss much),
which anybody on the list could tell you. I don't like malglico. I like
lojban as it is, and if someone tries to do word-substitution for
English idioms, and I see that, I'm usually all over them as soon as I
read my mail.

The reason I did use English as an Example is that I am still not
sufficiently proficient with other languages to show you the examples
from them. lojban is a well designed language pe'i, but because of its
several basic design properties (i.e. unambiguity, mainly), it cannot
be succint. I wanted to say that if it does sometimes use as long
or longer phrase as the English one, that is OK, it usually needs to
be. And if it *is* shorter than English, it is a welcome bonus, but
not something to be generally expected.

> > > flyswatter (sfani, fly, no short rafsi),
> It's a very common household item in some regions of the world, often
> enough mentioned in conversation if not in literature.
> > I asked several members of my family how is it called in Croatian, and
> > none could answer me, and I don't even think we have the word for it,
> > though we have it at home. We just never speak about it.
> Surely this is one of the most puzzling comments I have ever read.  How
> do you ask someone to hand you a flyswatter, if the flyswatter isn't in a
> position where you can point to it?  Or are Croatians not allowed to ask
> for help when insect pests must be destroyed?

I don't know, really. We probably have some name for it, but I just can't
remember any. I guess when I want it handed to me, I say the equivalent
of "Give me that... for flies." I am usually understood, and if not, I
accompany the sentence with the swatting motion of my hand. .u'ise'i
Don't get me wrong, I am ba'e not advocating to use that method in
lojban! I guess sfani xarci is what I'd use.

> > > hour-long (cacra, hour, no short rafsi),
> >
> > Croatian uses the adjective "jednosatni" (4 syllables), which
> > translates directly to lojban as {pavcacra} (3), or, using the x2
> > default, just {cacra} (2). I am satisfied.
> The x2 default?  I thought all gismu defaulted to x1.  I've missed
> something here, which may mean that my "hour-long" example is already
> covered by an economical Lojban expression.

gismu list has this to say about cacra:

> cacra              hour
> x1 is x2 hours in duration (default is 1 hour) by standard x3 (...)

> > I have never yet been in a situation where I would have to explicate
> > the material of a can, and if I ever am I would gladly use tanru.
> Yes, I'm sure tanru would suffice to describe the material of a can.  But
> how would you succinctly refer to the idiomatic "tin cans," that is, to
> all cans which are not aluminum beverage cans?

to'e selratralumini lante, I guess, if you really need to. Of course,
you'll notice that this is quite Zipfean (how often do you talk about
all the non-aluminium cans?).

> > > high tide (ctaru, tide, no short rafsi)
> > Why in the world would you want one word for expressing high tide?
> Again, I was concerned less with word count than with syllable count.  I
> was also thinking of some comments made by Haruhiko Kindaichi (names
> reversed) in his _The Japanese Language_.  This may have some Zipfian
> relevance: (...)

> So the answer to your question is that I will want economical expressions
> for everything that has a great deal to do with my livelihood, & that
> others will want economical expressions for everything intimately
> involved with theirs.

You can't have it all. Zipf's laws work, of course, like that: if you have some
concepts that are frequently used in a culture, those concept will get shorter
expressions associated with them. But is works on the cultural level. If
you, like in lojban, don't have a culture, this doesn't apply, you see?
Take this for example: Linguists use terms like "linguistic performance",
"discourse syntax", "pragmalinguistics", "head of the relative clause"
etc. Do you advocate that we, too, need to have short expressions for
those? The point is, we are constrained within our language. The fact
that Japanese might have lots of expressions for fish is a heirloom (is
that the right word?) from the old days, when fishing was what 90% of
the population was doing. How much use is it now to a modern Tokyo
system analyst or integrated circuitry designer? How important is it
to an English speaking linguist for hir language to have a multitude of
expressions for cattle?

My point is: we have here one language. All occupations are equal before
lojban: it is as culturally neutral as it can be, by language design and
definition. You can't use Zipf's laws on even distribution. The ba'e
only way you can get what you want is to make different sociolects that
would represent various people's interests.

> > > salt pan (silna, salt, no short rafsi),
> "salt pan" refers
> to a type of lowland desert terrain, formed when a salt lake or shallow
> inland sea evaporates, leaving a salt deposit on dry land.

Toughie, I'll grant you. OK. .e'u {jaurcau silnyla'u}. Anybody else?

How is lalxu defined, lojbab? I found myself asking why doesn't lalxu
have a place for composition, like xamsi. I guess if I lived near one,
I'd say elliptically just {silnyla'u}. I would like to be able to use
it, besides the obvious meaning, also for puddles of oil, these salt
pans, as well as for what happens in the upturned umbrella. Or tell
me how to say that otherwise.

> la dn cusku di'e
> > I would render "eyebrow raising" as "ranxi" (contrary to expectation/
> > ironic).  Certainly there would be no use for the idiom involving
> > eye-brows or raising....
> I'm not convinced that verbal descriptions of "eyebrow raising" (like
> "the jury's verdict really raised some eyebrows") are idiomatic in the
> way that, say, "barking up the wrong tree" is idiomatic.  The _facial
> gesture_ itself may be idiomatic.  But the _verbal expression_ is a very
> literal description of the facial gesture.

Well... I still view it as an idiom, at least in English. In lojban, I'd
say {le pairkamni seljdi ja'a jai galri'a lo mebri} if I wanted to
describe the facial expression yourself. Interpretation of that sentence
is, as you said, culture dependent. For me not to view it as an idiom in
English I would have to say "...really caused some eyebrows to be

> > I don't think that having compounds which are, say, 2 syllables instead
> > of 4 is that significant to a language.
> Then why do so many two-syllable compound words exist in various tongues?

I don't think that having compounds which are, say, 2 syllables instead
of 4 is that significant to this language. You can't have it all.

co'o mi'e. goran.

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