Ray: > On Monday, May 3, 2004, at 04:06 PM, And Rosta wrote: > > Ray: > >> On Sunday, May 2, 2004, at 02:22 PM, And Rosta wrote: > >> [snip] > >>> I was thinking rather that since this hypothetical EU language would > >>> be for official & legalistic use, it might as well confer the > >>> additional boon of being unambiguous, in which case some kind of > >>> amalgam of several dozen European languages would be quite the > >>> wrong way to go about it. > > I agree the amalgam of several dozen European languages is not going to > produce an unambiguous language; indeed, there already exist more than > enough such amalgams. > > >> But isn't this precisely what 18th century conlangers like Dalgarno & > >> Wilkins thought & aimed for. > > > > No AFAIK. I may be wrong, but I thought their main desire was for > > a common scholarly language that, perhaps as a beneficial byproduct, > > systematized enlightenment knowledge. > > Let Dalgarno speak for himself: > "About twenty years ago I published....a Synopsis of a Philosophical > Grammar and Lexicon, thereby showing a way to remedy the difficulties and > absurdities which all languages are clogged with ever since the Confusion, > or rather the Fall, by cutting off all anomaly, taking away all ambiguity > and equivocation, contracting the primitives (primary words) to a few > number, and even those not to be of a mere arbitrary, but a rational > institution, enlarging the bounds of derivation and composition, for the > cause both of copia and emphasis. In a word, designing not only to remedie > the confusion of language, by giving a much more easie medium of > communication than any yet known, but also to cure even Philosophy itself > of the disease of Sophisms and Logomachies." > > >> Fortunately, neither of their conlangs, nor any other similar 'logical, > >> philosophic' conlangs of the time caught on. Now 3 centuries later, we > >> see that their philosophy & logic was a wee bit mistaken. > > > > To me they're no better or worse than your average IAL > > They were engelangs - rather different from the usual auxlangs encountered > on that other list. Yes. Perhaps on reflection I would say that they are better than the average IAL, at least by virtue of their more estimable intent. > > (all of which > > are worse than your average natlang). If, though, you are right that > > they aimed for unambiguity, then I'd count that as a big plus in > > their favour. > > They surely aimed for unambiguity. OK, but see below. > >> But if unambiguity is the aim, there's always Classical Yiklamu ;) > > I thought an aim of CY was to maximize unambiguity (as far as it's humanly > possible). Am i mistaken? Semantic 'structures' have a paradigmatic dimension and a syntagmatic dimension. Avoidance of ambiguity in the paradigmatic dimension would be avoidance of polysemy. This is what CY does (IIRC) and what I think Dalgarno was probably thinking of primarily. The syntagmatic dimension would have to do with such things as logical scope and with matching arguments to predicates. I tend to be more preoccupied with the latter (and to simply take the former for granted), but of course a fully unambiguous language would have to pay due heed to both dimensions. > >> [snip] > >>> to an equal degree. The one wholly official language would merit > >>> its status by virtue of its superior qualities of unambiguity > >>> (superior for its legalistic purposes), > >> > >> I fear this is like looking for a chimaera. > > > > Politically, of course. But not linguistically. I think it is > > instructive to realize that a language that has the expressive > > capabilities of a natlang but that is unambiguous is > > linguistically achievable. > > Doesn't lojban attempt to achieve this? It's probably fair to say it does attempt to achieve this, but without success. > Isn't Livagian meant to be an attempt to achieve this or have I > misunderstood its aims? No, indeed Livagian is such an attempt. But it is incomplete and unpublished, a mere promissory note. > Hasn't this been attempted many times over the past three hundred > years or so? I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if many conlangs have claimed to be, or to attempt to be, unambiguous. I doubt that many, if any, have really tried. And I doubt that any have succeeded. Success requires not only considerable skills as a language designer, but also particular knowledge of linguistic semantics, especially its logical aspects. --And.