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--- "Douglas P. Wilson" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Natural languages are, I think we would all agree, something vitally
> important but terribly hard to understand. So I concentrate
> instead on
> various kinds of artifical languages, e.g. the lower predicate
> Fortran, C, Python, the Colon Classification, deontic logic, and so
This is what I call "optimised languages". They are really really good
at what they do - but their general usefulness in everyday life is
significantly below the one of the language you use when you go
shopping or courting or teaching your children ethics.
> I am quite fluent in a few of these language-like things, and writing
> them seems quite a lot like writing ordinary text, as I am doing here
> now, so I do think of them as languages, and in my mind they have
> started to
> replace natural languages as defining paradigms for the word
So you are aware that the languages you use very often actually change
the way you think, right? :)
If you are mostly working with languages that are good at expressing
discrete logic of some kind or other, no wonder that "natural"
languages seem clutered and non-efficient. Happens to me every time I
try to explain physics to someone without appropriate math skills. :)
> Before long I find myself measuring natural
> against these new paradigms, and finding they don't measure up very
Obviously not. You are measuring the difference between the apples and
oranges, while using the apples standard. Oranges make very poor
> Before long I find myself saying that English, Russian, and Walpiri
> are not
> actually languages at all, they are, as Wade Smith said, culture --
> content expressed in some underlying mathematical ideal language.
True. But the same thing is true of your artifical languages, including
the worldwide (universal?) language of mathematical symbolism. It is
still a culture-memetic content expressed through some formal system.
> At which point even the dullest philosophy undergraduate will surely
> that all of the above points notwithstanding, English, Russian, and
> must be languages because they are precisely what the word "language"
In their language, yes. :)
> Oh, Semantics, Semantics, god of communication, why do you torture me
Personaly, I would blame Godel. He pointed out the first that you can't
have *the one Universal Perfect System*. :)
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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