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Re: translation problems
>Are you saying that translation problems are inappropriate for this
I am NOTsaying that at all. But an extremely high percebntage of Lojban
text greater than 1 sentence in length consists of attempts to translate
natlang texts, and the problems of translation often overwhelm the learning
eperience about the language for the less expereinced learner.
>Are you saying that beginners do not benefit when "semantics traps" are
Only if they read and understand the discussion. But there are several kinds
of semantic traps. One level is the kind that results in malglico like your
question about eyebrow. A similar result, accessible to almost anyone is
somethjing like the recent discussion of "point". You can usually tell these
kinds of semantics issues, because they do not turn into "threads" - someone
asks the question, and one or two people repsond, and maybe one or two people
add a comment, and then the issue is resolved. But the bulk of semantics
issues discusses on Lojban List are also semamtics traps, but are NOT
accessibel to people without a lot of logic/lingusitic background and usually
a fair amount of Lojban background.
>> The ones who get confidence early, like Mark Vines, alas are also by the
>> same nature that allows them to overcome the intimidating atmosrphere, a
>> little brash and assertive in a way that jars on those of use who have
>> been around lonmg enough to be taught humility by this language which has
>> grown more complex and rich than even its makers can comrehend.
>I've already apologized for being brash & assertive (which, I admit, is a
>fair description of my performances here). My problem is, I still want
>to learn the language.
I was attempting to compliment you %^). Brash and assertive is often a way
of gettingthings done. You have gotten people's attention, and your
willingness toack down and publically apologize won a lot of respect, and not
just from me. Your proposal was ill-considered, but your willingness to do the
work to back it up, and your sticking with the language after being shouted
down bode well for all of us.
>I downloaded the Web pages in August; they must be inaccurate, since I'm
>occasionally criticized for using words or repeating information found
>therein, such as there being 16 Lojbanic diphthongs.*
The inaccuracy is not that they exist, but that they freely exist (I am
pretty sure Cowan is correcting this impression in his phonology and
morphology papers. 'iy' and 'uy' are permitted in names only, they once
had potential other uses, but those passed away. ia/ie/ii/io/iu
and ua/ue/ui/uo/uu are permitted only as distinct syllables in VV vowels
(they could potentially appear in a hypthetical VVV or VVVV vowel form,
I think), andperhaps in fu'ivla and names, butthere is disagreement whether
the latter is a GOOD THING, as opposed to a compromise to make non-Lojban
natives with atteachment to their native pronunciation able to Lojbanize their
names the way they would like- probably they would also be allowed in separate
syllables in names and fu'ivla.
>I submitted my
>Mini-Lesson, etc., in early September, but I've still received no
>response or correction to that.
No one ever has. The guy who wrote it never wrote answers, and is neither
on-net nor capable of supporting what he wrote.
WE intended to rewrite the minilesson years ago and produce an answer key, but
it hasn't happened and probably won't until we get the other books done.
What we really need for our current net-based focus is for someone to write a
Lojban equivalent to the 10-lesson Esperanto postal course. But the people
who get good enough in the language to do that kind of work seem invariably
to prefer to argue difficult smeantics issues than to teach beginners.
>Then I began posting to the list in
>Lojban -- la and, la xorxes & la mark quite helpfully responded -- but I
>got in over my head & had to retreat to English.
But you tried, which is a big plus. Until you TRY to write in the language,
the issues you face are considerably different than the ones you face based
on having written a apragraph or two.
>I chimed in, you'll
>recall, with an ill-advised _defense_ of the rafsi morphology, which I
>then had to retract. You & I locked horns over my retraction, & my
>subsequent (& equally ill-advised) reform proposal.
I didn't really think of it as locking horns, but rather of fulfilling
my responsibility to keep the language and project a unity. the risk when
an "assertive and brash and committed " person challenges the status quo,
is that said person is a potential risk for schism. I know. 8 years ago
I spoke up much like you, and JCB didn;t handle challenge well at all,
and di not have the organization in place to get support from the community.
In that case, schism was for the better, since the redesign did improve the
language, and also brought back in many of the people that JCB had alienated
over the years by clumsy leadership. It ain't easy leading a project like
this, and this may be one reason I am one of the only people among the LLG
leadership who still respects JCB even as I continue the effort he finds
>la goran taxed my proposal for its prose anyway, arguing that my desire
>to say "flyswatter" succintly in Lojban must be malglico because he can't
>remember what flyswatters are called in Croatian (note: that's just an
>absurdist parody of la goran's argument -- I hope!).
This may be just communications problem, and perhaps you are a little too
defensive and/or sensitive to criticism. I am VERY sure Goran intended no
disrespect, and every single one of us English speakers has been accsued
many times of malglico usage. The error I think he was trying topoint out
is that just because a concept exists in a single word in one language does
NOTmean that it needs to be a single word in another language, or even that it
gets expressed at all. The comments were perhaps more critical in your case
because you were in some cases asking for a lujvo when the English was 2 words
(e.g. salt pan).
> Which I then posted. But now you
>seem to be saying that translation exercises are bad because they might
>frighten off beginners....
That is NOT what I said. I don't even say that translation exercises are bad.
I said (forgive my composition of that message on the fly) that TOO MUCH
focus on translation is detrimental to the prject. I would not have mentioned
your post at all critically or otherwise, if I had not just seen it.
The person who was leaving LOjban List would NOT gain much from a translation
effort such as you posted, because the major issues that are likely to develop
are way more than he is likely to want to read, and because the sheer volume
of text you posed for translation means that the response will be a BIG post
which WILL intimidate. (I did note that you seemed to imply by numbering
lines that you are willing to discuss the lines one at a time, butI doubt that
this will happen.)
Most translation into Lojban has been poetry and songs, and poetry and songs
are the most difficult of traslations, because they are usually very elliptical
and unusual in grammar and metaphor in English, in order to suit the needs
of rhyme and meter. Thus you have to spend a LOT of time figuring out what the
English means,and only then can you work out what the Lojban means. Then,
unless you declare from the start that you want a prose translation, the
advanced Lojbanists will be trying to come up with something stylistically
pleasing in Lojban to at least convey the poetic sense (and only afew
Lojabnaists even TRY to come up with poetry with rhyme and meter at all, much
less comparable to the source language). All of these things MIGHT be
interetsing to a begimnner, and presumablyalso to you (who are de facto NOT a
becaue you HAVE reached the point of havingtried successfully to post in
Lojban), but they arent; going to provide what the beginner really needs,
which is hand stepping through the mechanics of expressing a simple Lojban
sentence several times until they get the confidence to try it themselves,
then moving on to somewhat more complex sentences.
>I don't know what kind of interaction you want to have with beginners
>like me. Every approach I've tried has failed. I've taken initiative
>after initiative here, but now I'm fresh out. You're willing to teach me
>humility. Who is willing to teach me la lojban?
I hope someone will, but I can't. And I AM NOT criticizing your efforts and
initiative. Rather, I think my post, while responding to some one else
in particular WAS also attempting to respond to your obvious need for some
kind of focus to your efforts. Most of the rest of us have either
learned LOjban by reading every bloody document and then boldly going out and
putting our Lojbanic foot in our mouth. I have never tried to teach other
than face to face or in direct response to specific questions froma self-
studying student of the language. Even if I had time, I do not know how to
teach someone who doesn't ask questions. Because that seems to be your style
of learning - to pose challenges rather than questions, and to learn from the
responses to your challenges. And it probably works too for you and far more
quicjkly than a lot of questions asked one at a time over several weeks.
The only way >I< know how to l4earn Lojban is to write and speak it, make
mistakes, and live with the never-ending humility of being wrong. Indeed
I plateaued in my use of the language a few years ago when I got so far along
that people could not offer me suffciient correction to continue to learn.
(I coud learn fromstudying written Lojban, but that takes a lot of time that
kids and books and managing the organization and following the endless
discussion collectively forbids.)
My suggestion to you is to take your translation project,and write as much
of it in Lojban as you can, and when you get stuck, wither asking a specific
question or skipping the point, tehn posting a chunk of original and Lojban
with all of your uncertainties plainly marked, and maybe a few footnotes to
explain why you chose certain approaches to difficult concepts or phrases.
That allows someone to give you feedback at the level you are actually writing
in Lojban, and allows real beginners to see how the process of writing text
and translations goes down. So you can teach and learn at the same time.
There are roughly 100 people on Lojban List right now. There are probably no
more than 20 people who have demonstrated they are at your level of skill
even though you may feel inadequate to the task. You need to help us help
you,and don't take being told you are wrong personally. The way all people
learn languages comes down in the long run to making mistakes and learning from
them. I have no studies to support me, but I beleive that 90% of the expla-
nation why young kids purportedly learn languages so much better than adults
is that they are totally without self-consciousness about making mistakes,
and indeedare not concerned with whteher they made a mistake, but rather with
whether they communciated. After they accmplsih communicationat a basic level,
they learn IN the language by ever improving through practice practice and
So keep writing in Lojban, and keep making mistakes, and don't get uptight
about doing so, and you WILL lear the language. Because all the rest of
us have done so the same way.