Print

Print


On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 11:43 AM, Thomas Alexander<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Paul Hartzer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>> By the way, I noticed you using the phrase "national
>> language." If you were meaning that as a lengthening
>> of "natlang," that goes against my understanding that
>> "natlang" is short of "natural language."
>
> No, it's a translation of the Esperanto "nacia lingvo"
> which stands in contrast to "internacia lingvo."
> Sometimes, the term "ethnic language" seems a more
> appropriate substitute.

Including in this case, I think, as Mark said.   English "national
language" would be =~ Esperanto "landa lingvo" or "oficiala lingvo" or
something; Esperanto "nacia lingvo" is a closer fit for English
"ethnic language" though the fit is not perfect.

> I find the term "natural
> language" misleading when it is meant to exclude
> languages, like Esperanto, which are processed naturally
> and are subject to natural forces.

It's not an invalid use of the word "natural" in the abstract, but the
set phrase "natural language" and especially its abbreviation
"natlang" have a more specialized sense in linguistics and in
conlanger circles.


> To my mind "natural language" stands in contrast to
> "computer language" and other forms of pseudo-linguistic
> symbolic representation, such as The Elephant's Memory.

"Human language" is a less ambiguous contrastive term, probably.  Or
"living language", to group conlangs like Esperanto and Interlingua
which have speaker communities along with naturally evolved languages
-- but that excludes dead languages like Hittite and Etruscan; ideally
we'd want a term that includes all languages with a speaker community,
present or past, but I don't know of one.


On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 11:51 AM, Mark J. Reed<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Esperanto is not a a natural language.  It's a constructed one.  A
> "planlingvo". "Natural" in this case means "evolved naturally", which
> E-o clearly did not.

It's not quite so cut and dried; E-o of 1887 was purely a conlang, but
E-o of 2009 is something more like a natural language (though not
exactly the same kind of thing as the things we usually call natural
languages).

> Most languages, natural or constructed, are not "national",

True; most are neither majority language nor official languages of
sovereign nations.

> and
> calling them such is just spreading IAL-promotional propaganda.

Um, not necessarily.  More commonly it's just a careless translation
from Esperanto "nacia lingvo", without any invidious or propagandic
intent.


> Jim Henry <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> [...] knowing linguistic terminology isn't necessary,
>> but knowing something about linguistics, even if one
>> has picked it all up by osmosis in the course of studying
>> various specific languages and hasn't ever studied
>> linguistics per se, is more or less necessary for
>> creating a "good" or "interesting" language,
>
> So my question becomes -- is there a difference between
> knowing something about LINGUISTICS and knowing something
> about LANGUAGE?

I reckon so.  It has to do with how systematic one's knowledge of
various languages and their differences and similarities is, and
whether one knows the standard terminology and conceptual models that
are commonly used in thinking and talking about languages.  As far as
creating interesting conlangs goes, knowing the conceptual models that
have been found useful for thinking about languages is far more
important than knowing the standard terminology.  As far as explaining
one's nifty new conlang to others -- knowing the terminology is pretty
helpful too.   (But some of the conceptual models prevalent in
linguistics might hurt as well as help, depending on various factors;
see David Peterson's talk at LCC1 about the problems with the theory
of morphemes.)

....
> I looked into the purpose for which the Auxlang list was
> created, and a careful reading of the list materials suggested
> that Auxlang was created for the sole purpose of getting the
> Auxlangers to leave the conlang list in peace.

Just so -- though I must say that the AUXLANG list is much more civil
and less flameful than it reportedly was in the days when the
CONLANG/AUXLANG split occurred.  It's still a good thing that the
split occurred, though; I suppose the majority of people on either
list are probably not interested in most of the discussions that occur
on the other list.

-- 
Jim Henry
http://www.pobox.com/~jimhenry/