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Thank you for your prompt reply! You are very wise, so anything I omit you can assume I agree with.

On Thu, 31 Aug 2006 15:23:56 -0700
"H. S. Teoh" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Now, a computer would have absolutely no trouble picking out the right
> words, but the human brain doesn't work that way.

Depending on how you program the computer of course. If it strictly matches words yes, but in computer terms what you're describing is called a hash collision, as far as I know.

> You're assuming that roots must necessarily be complete general.

How about my idea to make the roots complete specific, and generalizing from there?  That's got problems of its own, but it might be something to consider during the designing of the real vocabulary.

> 1) Frequency of usage is more important than beauty of internal
>    structure. You should cater to the fact that the most frequently used
>    words should be most economical, even if the concepts themselves are
>    very complicated and require a lot of specification in a taxonomic
>    system.

Perhaps it would be interesting to try a vocabulary that starts with the most frequent words, and then has specifiers for related words, much in the way our brain works by taking familiar concepts and following connections to related concepts.

>    What exactly constitutes 'frequent' depends on what your
>    target audience is. The language of a farmer is very different from
>    the language of an academic researcher, even though they share a
>    similar subset that they can mutually understand each other (e.g.,
>    they both speak English---even though the kind of English the
>    researcher speaks uses a lot of words that the farmer doesn't use
>    from day to day, and vice versa).

Now see, that's just the very reason that a taxonomic vocabulary would make total sense. The scientist words would have a certain prefix (or suffix) and beneath that would use the same combinations as the farmer, who would have a different 'farmer words' prefix. Maybe it wouldn't be subdivided by scientist and farmer, but it would allow us to remember less, once we know the context of our vocabulary.  Maybe it would even work to establish the context of the vocabulary, then omit the assumed prefix until you're done with that context.  Not sure how to conceptualize it, but something like...

habababu hababami hababaoh habababee
would become something like...

hababa bu mi oh bee

Maybe if hababa means artificially grown plants, bu mi and oh would refer to 3 hydroponics techniques, but if hababa means classical music scores, then bu mi and oh might be dynamic variations.

> 2) Words that refer to similar things in the same context preferably
>    should be as different as possible. 

...in the same context though.  Where does the same context stop and the different words start? I'm proposing to do it at the syllable level, though that might not be workable.  I think ultimately what you're saying is I need a (relatively) random distribution to a certain threshold of syllables, after which I should use a taxonomic hierarchy.  So like the last 2 syllables in a category of words is random so they don't resemble each other, but the first 2 are taxonomic?

> 3) Words that refer to different things in different contexts don't have
>    to be very different from each other. Our brains can easily tell from
>    context which meaning is intended, so there's no need to split hairs
>    in this area.

Exactly, so hamumamupo could mean something totally different than bamumamupo, as long as we don't talk about both wildly diverse concepts at the same time.

> you just need to be
> creative about how exactly you represent the taxonomic structure. My
> advice is, a simple mapping from taxonomic structure to syllables is
> impractical.

I haven't given up yet on the idea that one can construct a rational mapping of vocabulary. "Be creative" is advise to be heuristic, and without a context to draw samples from I can't really tell heuristically whether a vocabulary word should be one way or another.  Since I cannot follow your advice, I was trying to deduce a system that would make more sense and give me some footing from which to be creative.  You can't make a painting with finished, dried paint, I agree, but you also can't make a painting with all the paint mixed together.