User:And Rosta

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And Rosta

You can contact me thus.

If you feel compelled to annotate this page, please don't mess up the layout too much. Use a perspicuous layout that does not destroy the integrity of the original text.

I belong to the Conlanger class of Lojbanist, i.e. I joined in 1991 as a result of conlang afficionadodom (see New Growth Lojbanist). I am therefore one of the 'tweeners. I am a member of LLG since 2001. I am one of the hardliners - perhaps the hardest!

I mean to collect together some links to Lojban poems & translations, but it's a bit of a struggle finding them in the list archives.

Manifesto (cf that in Jay Kominek)

  • Lojban is interesting because it is the most sophisticated published engineered language.
  • Engineered languages are interesting in the way that any engineering is, especially when it tries to improve on biology (cf. robotics). Part of the interest is that it tells us more about the biology, and part of the interest is that we have a human desire to improve our tools. I am interested in discovering how (and whether) the tool of natural language can be improved upon. (I don't think Lojban itself is an improvement on, say, English, but I do believe in the viability of designing a language that is better than any natural language. (Better by some set of relatively objective criteria that I may enumerate here at a future time.]
  • Lojban usage is valuable because it tests/proves the language design. Even if your only goal is the design itself, part of the process of optimizing the design is to test prototypes in actual use.
  • Valuable usage needs to pay scrupulous attention to a grammar. What is important is not to make ourselves understood (-- for when we succeed in making ourselves understood that is testimony only to the brilliance of the mind's pragmatic powers; it tells us little about the language), but to say exactly what we intend to say -- to produce sentences whose meaning is exactly the meaning we intended to encode.
  • I follow a personal policy of making no conscious efforts to learn Lojban, and I am rarely moved to read or write or speak it. Consequently there are big gaps in my knowledge, especially in the gismu and some of the less interesting selmaho. The amount of Lojban that I've written over the years is in fact surprisingly large, given my avowed lack of motivation to use Lojban.
  • Were it up to me, Lojban would never have been baselined. The process of improving the design would be ongoing and effectively never-ending.
  • However, 99% of Lojbanists [not an unreasonable estimate] wanted the baseline. Accordingly, on democratic grounds I am now firmly in favour of the official grammar being baselined. Indeed, I am in favour of a permanent baseline. I think the LLG should not put its stamp of approval on any further revisions.
  • At the same time, I am in favour of exploring, through design and usage, various changes to the baseline, so long as these changes are understood to be unofficial.
  • Indeed, while I get very impatient with sloppy usage that doesn't say what it is intended to (even if it gets understood correctly), and while I get equally impatient with sloppy or solecistic usage that gets entrenched and conventionalized through sheer frequency of use, I am in favour of anything that subverts the baseline, on the grounds that I see no virtue in it except the simple fact that 99% of Lojbanists wanted it.
    • In a sense, then, I'm quite sympathetic to the Naturalists, in that they want Lojban to evolve naturally, much as a pidgin would, and for the resulting language to be defined, as with a natlang, by the usage and/or idiolects of the speakers themselves. What makes me sympathetic to this is that it makes the baseline an irrelevance, an artefact of solely historical interest. Of course, I differ from the Naturalists in wishing for the language to continue to be engineered, and for usage to scrupulously follow an explicit grammar.
    • Further of my relevant opinions are given under On the baseline conformance imperative.
  • Lojban's virtues as a language are relative rather than absolute. As I said above, it is the most sophisticated published Engelang, but it has the potential for enormous improvement. By 'enormous improvement' I mean starting again from scratch, but with the benefit of the experience gained from Lojban. I have been asked "Well why don't you go off and create a better language, then?" The answer is that I have, but that doesn't stop Lojban being the most sophisticated engelang that has been published and has a small community of experts focused around it. Hence the inadequacy of Lojban as a language design does not diminish its interest.

Below is a copy of parts of Jay's manifesto with some comments from me (underlined) interspersed.

Since these pages are reference material, here is a quick reference guide to my positions on Lojban policy.

The grammar of the baseline is sacrosanct.

The fact that I agree with this statement indicates that it is a doctrine susceptible to multiple interpretations.

Its a nice and complete grammar sufficently complex and detailed to allow the expression of anything anyone should want to express. (See under Tinkering)

Complexity and detail is not necessary to allow the expression of anything anyone should want to express. All that goal requires is a very basic grammar and a very large lexicon. What the complexity and detail give us, in the main, are less cumbersome ways of expressing things. And of course, there is great scope for making Lojban less cumbersome.

The number of programmers out there who have been mastering LALR(1) programming languages for years shows that humans can learn and process LALR(1) languages at high speed, even if the semantics are extensible and possibly infinite.

The semantics of existing documents should not be violated.

Otherwise why should anyone want to write anything? It might be declared nonsensical tomorrow, or even yesterday in the message you missed because your mail server was dropping email.

The value of writing something in Lojban is to test the design. Even with the baseline in place, much of what is written is nonsensical, anyway -- or so I find on the occasions when I take the trouble to read Lojban. If there came some golden age when the design of Lojban had evolved to such an extent that it was better than that of, say, English, then would it would be worth choosing Lojban as the language in which to write things intended to be permanent and not merely ephemerally comprehensible.

Tinkering isn't an appropriate use of Lojban

Why tinker with Lojban and try to force your changes upon others (when you never intend to use the language), when instead you could simply tinker with your own pet languages, and you'd never have to deal with anyone arguing with you? Much less stress...

No tinkerers seriously try to force their changes upon others. Being argued with it one of the positive benefits of being a Lojban tinkerer. The tinkering is conducted as a dialectic, which can often be more profitable than labouring in solitude. If tinkering was not appropriate to Lojban, it would not have come to exist in the first place; it is the product of several generations of committees of tinkerers. To continue to tinker with Lojban is to continue that tradition -- is to continue to develop the very thing that makes Lojban special and worthy of interest.

There is no reason to believe there are things which Lojban can't express. Its easily as complex and rich as a natural language. Just because the construction you want isn't immediately obvious doesn't mean IMMINENT DEATH OF LOJBAN PREDICTED, NEWS AT 11.

This is true. However, except to the naive, the real issue is not whether something can be expressed, but how conveniently and elegantly it can be expressed. ('Elegance' not as in floweriness but having to do with harmony and symmetry with with the rest of the language.)

However, anyone can do anything they please as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

This, prevailing, view, is one reason why, uniquely, Lojban has not undergone schism.

But if I felt that the tinkering harmed the language community...

Semantic exploration is a noble use of Lojban

I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds good.

This form of exploration is a worthy goal in any language, as it tends to expand ones mind. Unlike tinkering with the grammar, where you just change the set of rules that have to be memorized, semantic exploration has instant rewards.

Each to his own. Needless to say, to me tinkering with the grammar is not merely "changing the set of rules that have to be memorized".

Usage is the only real way to sway opinion.

Thankfully this is not wholly true. If it were, we could just give up on Lojban as it spiralled into the pits of inconsistency, illogicality, ungrammaticality, and sundry other vices it was designed to be free from. Fortunately a handful of voluble mavens labour to stem the tide.

Anyone arguing for <foo> while not using <foo> in their Lojban, or while not even using Lojban, is living in a state of sin, as far as I'm concerned. Further their statements carry no weight to me.

As my 'manifesto' says, I of course take the opposite view - that the weight accorded to someone's statements about Lojban is determined by the inherent value (sagacity, etc) of those statements, and it is irrelevant whether the person uses Lojban.

Anyone using <foo> when they actually mean <bar> is, as far as I'm concerned, not quite living in a state of sin, but certainly contributing little to Lojban and, if their usage is influential, possibly even damaging to Lojban.

Arguing about a topic, with the same people, as you've argued in the past is a waste of time.

Whenever you decide you want to argue about something you've argued before, just go read the mailing list archives and live vicariously through your previous arguments.

It is true that a lack of a decent system of records for discussions is a great hindrance, but those arguments generally go in spirals, not circles. Anybody who isn't interested in the arguments needn't participate. Anybody annoyed by their presence on Lojban List can ask for the discussion to move to "jboske". But it is thanks to these arguments that Lojban has the degree of sophistication that it has.

And Rosta

Note that sometimes, due to grammatical ambiguities in the English language, sometimes the connective and is confused for the name And.

Cf. the amusing misunderstanding in New Growth Lojbanist, repeated here:

  • nitcion
    • la .maikl. I think is sui generis :-) (I was wondering this myself.) And probably is more of a 'tweener than anything else (confirmed). Perhaps he's the 'tweener equivalent of pc? :-)
  • Michael seems like a nice guy, though. Yup, that's what I meant by sui generis! so whats with the comparison to pc, then?
  • Cause neither can be understood? Oh, Lordy. This is not the first time this has happened. In "And probably is more of a 'tweener than anything else", And = And Rosta! And I'm comparing And to pc because of their formal bias, though of course And is more formal than pc...

BPFK work

This member presides over the following sections:

BPFK Section: Modal Aspects