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CONLANG  June 2005, Week 2

CONLANG June 2005, Week 2

Subject:

Re: Throwing out the tree-structured grammar (SF Xenolinguistics FAQ)?

From:

Ray Brown <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 12 Jun 2005 19:28:51 +0100

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On Saturday, June 11, 2005, at 10:38 , Tim May wrote:

> Ray Brown wrote at 2005-06-11 20:17:14 (+0100)
[snip]
>> correct. IMHO the author of the FAQ that Steven quoted is being
>> rather vague, and "I feel no urge to attempt to describe such
>> horrors" seems a bit of a let-out to me. Has the author thought
>> through what s/he's writing? Without an attempt to describe 'such
>> horrors' I take the FAQ with a big pinch of salt.
>
> Have you read it?

By 'the FAQ' I meant the excerpt quoted by Steven, and I had of course
read that. I had assumed from what Steven said that it was a page of FAQs.

> (To begin with, it's not an FAQ - I don't know why
> Steven called it that.)

I have now read the whole page and I also do not know why Steve called it
that either. But quite frankly I find the page a bit of a "curate's egg".
It does not, however, change my opinion about the sentence that Steven
quoted - if anything, it reinforces that opinion.

>
>> My impression is that the author of the FAQ has not really thought
>> through what s/he has written. IMO without the attempt to describe
>> 'such horrors' it does not really say anything more than "Alien
>> grammars may be quite different from any grammars of our familiar
>> earth languages."
>>
>> So what? Until we encounter any such aliens, we will not know.
>>
>
> What do you mean "so what"? That's a perfectly reasonable point to
> make in that context.

I mean that it is pretty obvious that alien grammars may well be different
from any earth language grammars and the sentence does not carry us any
further forward. Surely at the very least when Justin Rye mentions 'some
bizarre kind of stack' he could have given a link to Fith?
Better still of course would have been a bit more explicit explanation of
what he did mean.
==============================================

On Sunday, June 12, 2005, at 01:02 , Patrick Littell wrote:
[snip]
> Well, in general I found the document to be pretty entertaining, but I
> too would doubt that the author really has any further thoughts on the
> matter of non-tree languages. 

I agree on both accounts.

> The reference to a hash grammar is most likely a strained analogy to
> trees --
[snipped but agreed with]
> Hashtables store data efficiently, but they are not really meant to
> organize it.  Underneath it's just (for example) a list of lists, and a
> quick way to get at any individual item provided one knows the property
> it's hashed upon.

I agree absolutely. I

>
> But let's play...
>
> We have an alien species called the Plogl (pKOgK\), who are slow and
> deliberate thinkers but can
[snip]
Hee, hee! I like the Plogl beings (not sure what inviduals of the species
are called). I guess they are slow moving creatures - I have in mind
something akin to a cross between a toadstool and a snail, scattering
communication spores every so often.

> Anyway, there's a hashy language for ya. 

It sure is :)

> The hashtable structure solves the fundamental problem of Plogl
> communication, which is that the Plogl needs to sift through a huge
> 1-dimensional array of information, some of which this particular Plogl
> will find interesting and some of which she won't.  There are other ways
> of solving this problem, but by whatever invisible hand guides the
> evolution of the Plogloi, hashing is what they've developed.

Great stuff. So to answer Steven's original question:"How would one do
that?" I say go to Fith for stacks and Plogl for hash :)

Ray
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