On 9 May 2012 17:58, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > A thread from 2009 on the same subject you might find interesting: > http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=CONLANG;p7512Q;200907191435570700C > > My latest thinking on the subject is: If "reality" is a computer > simulation then "magical" incantations and rituals are really just > "cheat codes" for the game, or passwords granting higher permissions > within the game's hierarchy of users. The ultimate in power being the > discovery of The Creator's username and password. That would give a > player the same power as the Giver Of Data (G.O.D.) Himself. Aha! I see we thought along similar lines. Including the programming language analogy, although I'll extend it to note that not all programming languages are imperative. There's declarative and logic programming as well, which I think goes to better show the blurriness of the line in these sorts of situations, where the intended meaning can be conveyed in either form. Ergo, there's no real need to distinguish them. The less intelligent the addressee of spells is, the more like computer programming spellcasting would be. There could be a lot of room for variation, there, between commanding individual molecules vs. talking to tree-spirits. When it comes to higher-order world-intelligences, though, I would assume they may have conversational use for the language as well, which expands the sorts of things the language needs to cover well beyond what one could get structuring it entirely like a programming language. Whatever conversational strategies are used by nature spirits, etc., would then also be available for human employ. If we assume an intelligent addressee, then it also follows that one doesn't really need a special mood or register for instruction or commentary, any more than we need a special register for quotes in existing natlangs; one assumes that addressees know pragmatically when you're quoting or talking about something as opposed to actually *meaning* it. Unless there's a chance that it might be overhead by a particularly 'dense' part of nature.... There's certainly room for historical derivation in that regard, though! I could easily see it happening that *part* of the language, reflecting the actual original native language of the world, would remain very rigid because that's what water understands and if it doesn't understand you it won't turn into Mountain Dew when you tell it to, but other bits of the language getting added on and altered via natural evolutionary processes. So there would be certain lexemes and grammar that are only used by humans, and don't actually have magical effect except insofar as you can train your local spirits to learn them, but are still considered part of the language by magical human culture. Thinking about giving instruction actually gave me another idea: the possibility of meta-magic. Giving instruction in magic in the magical language involves saying true things about how magic works so that other people will know it. If those things are already true, then their statement in the magical language won't change anything, so instruction is inherently safe. But one can imagine writing magic textbooks in the magical language that were not previously accurate, but become so because they are written in the magical language! Thus bringing new spells into existence. Like writing LISP macros. -l.