Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

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Linguistic Fractals

Half-baked web of interconnected ideas I had in the shower:

  • Parsi language: highly agglutanative - words built from primitives, approach desired meaning and then frozen by custom into an exact meaning
  • Chinese script: mostly visually agglutanative - basic meaning combined with more symbol elements to fine-tune, often given a pronunciation marker
  • Disclaimer: I do not claim proficiency in either
  • Musing: relation of meaning to words
  • Phoenician: Ancient abjad (abjad: written script that only records consonants) not far removed from logogramatic writing (symbols represent concepts rather than sounds)
  • Parsi: letter clusters presumably readable as logograms (barring irregular word composition), lower-level units (graphemes) represent sounds
    • True to a certain extent in other languages - also note tendency of people to parse written language as letter clusters rather than individual letters when proficient - psychology experiments using eye-tracking and imaging
  • Imagine: a quality of a language measuring how clean that kind of mapping is - degree to which logeme-phoneme (I know I've coined a term here but the default semantics of morpheme arn't quite right and I want to avoid them) mirrors cluster-grapheme divide. Composed of two elements: regularity of composition rules and degree of agglutanativity of language
  • Semidistinct topic:How to build a highly agglutanative language? (conlang)
  • What kind of primitives? Could do geometric and abstract, dividing each as separate problems - dancing back to real languages, geometric is more important - abstract topics (or even verbs) less urgent and could come later
  • Amusement: Dewey Decimal or LOC numbers provide a kind of map of topics - mapping those numbers into sets of phonemes/graphemes would have a kind of elegance (or at least would give an easy way to build a large vocabulary with very little new effort)
    • Ideas like this provide a categorisation system that permits character length to match potential depth of represented topics - alternate or supplement to agglut. Runaway agglut as fractal language?
  • Important concept: Regularity in language makes it easier to learn, easy to play with. English: often praised as a flexible language with subtle gradations of meaning, but difficult to learn (pulling from many languages provides a redundancy of terms which allows speakers to assign them slightly different nuances). Parsi should in theory be easy to learn but still very expressive.

In other news, Al Qaeda has offered a bounty for the death of the cartoonist who drew Mohammad's head on a dog in Sweden last month. Interestingly, they did it from their branch in Iraq, probably to make a political point about the effectiveness of the American invasion. (Reminder: Al Qaeda was no doubt just as delighted to see Hussein removed from power as BushJr was)

SCOGroup has entered Chapter 11. Hurrah!


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