Print

Print


Herman Miller wrote:
 > [log in to unmask] wrote:
[snip]
 >> One can think of the semantic primes as atoms to build molecules.
 >> Once you have built some very common small molecules, you can use
 >> those to build slightly bigger molecules, then still larger ones,
[snip]
 >
 > It's clear that you can use them as building blocks, but it's not at all
 > clear *how* to use them.

Yes, indeed. Nor is this a new idea. Reginald Dutton boasted that "the 
whole Speedwords vocabulary is constructed from no more than 491 
keywords or radicals" (Dutton Speedwords Dictionary, 1951). I recall a 
few years back Jeffrey Henning's 'Dublex' which had 400 "building 
blocks" (or 'word tiles' as he called them), see:
http://www.langmaker.com/db/Dublex

But in Jeffrey's case it was "a langmaking game -- think of it as 
Scrabble for people who like to invent words."

 >> The semantic primes are analogous to machine language.  Using that
 >> machine language you can quickly build higher and higher-level
 >> languages that can accomplish a lot with relatively few statements.
 >

I'm inclined to agree. No doubt I shall be told that I ought to read 
Anna Wierzbicka's books; but already I find I don't have enough time to 
read all the books I'd like to read - so I need rather more 
encouragement than what I have seen so far on this list or by surfing 
the Internet to persuade me that her books are more important than 
others I'd like to read. From what I've seen so far, NSM seems to me 
that it might prove to be as ill-formed as the word "hypernym" which 
I've spotted in recent mails; and the latter malformation is due to 
faulty analysis ......   ;)
--------------

Herman Miller also wrote:
> [log in to unmask] wrote:
[snip]
>>> Analogously, X is yellow. =
>> when one sees things like X one can think of the sun
>  
> It's bright, and it'll hurt your eyes if you look at it for too long?

It certainly will - nor does the sun suggest yellow to me, rather I think
of shining white.

>> X is green. =
>> in some places many things grow out of the ground
>  
> Ah, those are called "mushrooms".

Yep - this autumn/fall had a particularly good showing of them - all
sorts of shapes, sizes and colors - but none green as far as I recall.

>> when one sees things like X one can think of this
[snip]
> 
> Obviously the reference is intended to be to leaves, ferns, grass etc. 
> But I can only make this assumption because I knew ahead of time that it 
> was intended as a definition of "green" 

Quite - a sort of 'circulus vitiosus' - the definitions/explications work
only if you know the answers.

> (and even the grass isn't always 
> green, if there hasn't been enough rain).

Nor if you speak Welsh, where grass is traditionally described as _glas_
which mostly corresponds to the English word 'blue.' The Welsh word
generally corresponds to English green in other contexts is _gwyrdd_.

It seems to me that the explications are cultural and/or language
specific. I thought Gary's cooperative conlang was meant to be 
culturally neutral. But maybe I've misunderstood something along the line.

-- 
Ray
==================================
http://www.carolandray.plus.com
==================================
Entia non sunt multiplicanda
praeter necessitudinem.