Re: future language

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 23:46:29 BST

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    From: Trupeljak Ozren <>
    Subject: Re: future language
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    --- "Douglas P. Wilson" <> wrote:
    > What I was trying to describe was not the blurring of distinctions
    > but
    > something almost the opposite, a language capable of extreme clarity
    > precisely because it lacks all the historical accidents embedded in a
    > language like English. Perhaps I should have emphasized more
    > strongly the
    > role of library classification schemes and thesauri as an inspiration
    > and
    > source of data for what I have been trying to do.

    Why do you believe that such a language would have more clarity than
    English? Why do you believe that clarity is the overwhelming property
    of such a language? Why do you think that absolute clarity in a
    language is actually "good"? Personaly, I don't believe that any
    language could be clear without being rather specific - and if it is
    specific, than it definitively has memetic content.
    There is a huge number of artificial languages in use today - and one
    property that they all have in common is that they are optimised for
    performance of specific tasks. Don't you think that there aren't people
    working on a "perfect" computer language, one that would replace all of
    these other ones? I invoke Godel's theorem on that and clearly state
    that such a thing is impossible. By analogy, your perfect future
    language is also impossible. What you can have, though, is a language
    optimised for specific way of thinking/creating content. Look at the
    universal symbolism of math...:)
    > On re-reading my own message I note that my attempt to describe or to
    > define
    > this wasn't very good -- not as clear as I had hoped. "Designed by"
    > is an
    > interesting restatement, but I don't think it is quite right either.
    > What
    > distinguishes German from Malay is, on this theory, is not so much
    > design as
    > content -- it is the different memetic contents of the languages that
    > makes
    > them different languages.

    IMO, what you are refering to different memetic contents are in
    actuality the different morphemes that these languages use (arguably
    the most basic memes of them all), and rules for combining those
    morphemes into sentences ("operating system" or "reflection of the
    Universal Grammar" or some such..). We do see three major such systems
    of combining morphemes in languages all across the world - wich would
    imply that to a certain extent, all three have equal "fitness" value.
    This might also imply that there *isn't* a *one* universal system (of
    combining morphemes) that is just best at everything.
    When we look at morphemes themselves, they seem to be almost completely
    arbitray - although we do see that some combinations of sounds are more
    statisticaly prevalent then others. Again, a point against "universal
    original language".

    >> This statement reads like it was written by a person who sees the
    > current
    > assortment of natural languages as rather a bad thing, someone who
    > may have
    > hoped we as a species would adopt a single language, thereby
    > rendering
    > translators obsolete.

    True. This is what I perceived, although I am aware that most people
    are far more complex than just that...:)

    > I have been such a person all my life, but I am beginning to suspect
    > there
    > is something wrong with that point of view. On the memetic-content
    > theory,
    > each natural language may contain (or consist of) a large amount of
    > memetic
    > content, something that is, or should be, or will be valuable. Had
    > we all
    > adopted a single language a few generations ago, European Union
    > meetings
    > would be less horrific, but the content encoded or embedded in the
    > other
    > languages would have been lost.

    Yes, precisely my point. If there is *a language* that is so superior
    to all the others in whatever it is that languages can be superior in,
    than there is a rather strong probabilty that we would all be speaking
    it today. :)
    (Which is, of course, a sentence said in English, not my native tongue,
    to a number of people to whom English is also not a native tongue...sad
    sad irony..:)

    > We may someday learn to extract the content from languages,
    > preserving and
    > perhaps making use of it, at which time we may discover that we have
    > in
    > fact been speaking a single universal language all along and just
    > didn't
    > notice because of all the memetic baggage in the way. (I know that
    > sounds
    > preposterous, but I think the basic idea is only mildly insane and
    > may
    > contain some small kernel of truth).
    > dpw

    Without language there is precious little content left. For example, we
    have something that (IMO) corresponds to the role of language, and
    exists in all the cultures across the Earth - music. Now music *can*
    transfer some information content, and quite a bit of emotional
    content, it has it's "grammar" and syntax, it has it's morphemes even,
    but exactly how useful is it in transmitting information (content)?
    There is a good reason why we all *don't* speak in whistles. :)
    What you see as "baggage", I see as an essential part of what language
    *is*. It is a feature, not a bug...:)
    All IMO, of course.

    There are very few men - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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