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"conlanging", that is.

but seriously, it's all about your goals.  If your goal is to create a
plausibly human(ish) exolang, then naturalism is part of that.  If you're
doing an engelang, then you probably don't care about it at all.

On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 2:56 PM, Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> > To me, "covert irregularities" means inconsistencies, and
> inconsistencies are flaws.
>
> Glad to see conning is attracting some younger people! :)
>
>
> On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 12:44 PM, MorphemeAddict <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>> To me, "covert irregularities" means inconsistencies, and inconsistencies
>> are flaws.
>> I'm not a fan of naturalistic conlangs.
>>
>> stevo
>>
>> On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 12:14 AM, John Q <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>> > Jeffrey Brown wrote:
>> >
>> > >Recently, on the Conlang forum, there was a thread that mentioned, in
>> the
>> > >midst of a different discussion, the question of whether or not the
>> > grammar
>> > >of a conlang was naturalistic. This is a question I have pondered for
>> some
>> > >time, as I am much more fascinated with the syntax and morphology of a
>> > >language, than with its phonology or its conculture.
>> > >
>> > >When conlangers speak of naturalistic conlangs, it seems to me that
>> they
>> > >speak primarily of the way the language sounds, and of whether the
>> > >phonology has the “feel” of having developed naturally over a period of
>> > >time, because of the judicious application by its creator of fictional
>> > >diachronic sound changes.
>> > >
>> > >I think that conlangs grammars can also have a naturalistic “feel” as
>> > >opposed to an artificial one. I cannot define what makes this so, other
>> > >than it is a personal, subjective, aesthetic sense of the language’s
>> > >structure, which I can perceive if I attempt to use the language for
>> > speech
>> > >or translation. So, what follows is purely my own personal opinions of
>> the
>> > >naturalism of the grammars of various conlangs.
>> > >
>> > >I. Relexes
>> > >
>> > >Although everyone disparages relexes, one thing about them is that
>> their
>> > >grammars are naturalistic. After all, it is just a relexification of a
>> > >natlang, and a natlang, by definition, has a natural grammar.
>> > >
>> > >II. Mathematical Grammars and Engelangs
>> > >
>> > >Any grammar based on predicate logic, or computer science, or any
>> branch
>> > of
>> > >mathematics, does not have a naturalistic feel. Examples are Fith,
>> Loglan,
>> > >Lojban, and Ithkuil (sorry JQ). This does not mean that these conlangs
>> are
>> > >inconsequential or unworthy in any way, merely that when I try to say
>> > >something in that language, it doesn’t feel like I’m speaking a
>> language,
>> > >it’s rather like I’m trying to solve an algebra problem in my head. I
>> am
>> > >aware that are a some people who can speak Lojban more or less fluidly,
>> > but
>> > >there are also some people who can quickly solve algebra problems in
>> their
>> > >heads and that doesn’t make algebra a language.
>> > >
>> > >I suspect that my perception is based on the fact (or supposition) that
>> > the
>> > >parts of the brain that handle language are different than the parts
>> that
>> > >handle mathematics.
>> > >
>> > >You will note that these are all engelangs. In fact, I cannot think of
>> a
>> > >single engelang that has a naturalistic grammar. But that’s not the
>> point
>> > >of an engelang, anyway, is it?
>> > >
>> > >III. Auxlangs
>> > >
>> > >The most common auxlangs are based on European languages. Their
>> grammars
>> > >are really a regularization and simplification of a Romance grammar,
>> or at
>> > >least of an IE grammar. I find these extremely easy. I can read texts
>> in
>> > >auxlangs I have never studied. And I find their grammars to have a very
>> > >naturalistic feel.
>> > >
>> > >Now, one could retort, that because English is my native language, or
>> > >because I speak several European languages, Esperanto and the like feel
>> > >naturalistic to me because their grammars are similar to English or
>> > >Spanish. But, I have also learned Arabic and Hawaiian, and the
>> grammars of
>> > >those languages are decidedly not IE in structure, yet their grammars
>> feel
>> > >natural to me. I have also studied Japanese, Chinese, and Blackfoot
>> > (though
>> > >I don’t claim more than a smattering of knowledge of them), and the
>> > >grammars of those languages, too, feel natural.
>> > >
>> > >There is something about natural language grammars, their combination
>> of
>> > >features or their structure, which, in my opinion, “kicks” the
>> processing
>> > >of the language into Broca’s or Wernicke’s area (or wherever), rather
>> than
>> > >the part of the brain that handles general symbolic manipulation.
>> > >
>> > >IV. Minimalist Languages
>> > >
>> > >I love Toki Pona. Thank you, SL! But it doesn’t have a naturalistic
>> > >grammar. It’s a toy grammar.
>> > >
>> > >V. Exolangs, Written-only langs, or any Non-sequential lang
>> > >
>> > >Human language is oral/aural and is produced by a single channel (one
>> > >larynx, one channel). Any conlang that doesn’t conform to those
>> > >restrictions ends up with a non-naturalistic grammar, in my opinion.
>> But,
>> > >maybe that’s part of the point of an exolang, to come up with an
>> “inhuman”
>> > >grammar, isn’t it?
>> > >
>> > >VI. Really great conlangers
>> > >
>> > >Okay, this is totally subjective, but just as there are great artists
>> > among
>> > >composers and novelists, there are great artists among conlangers.
>> Through
>> > >a combination of innate talent, linguistic-aesthetic sensitivity, and a
>> > >perseverance of effort, they have developed beautiful conlangs whose
>> > >phonology and grammar are both admirably naturalistic. I can think of
>> only
>> > >two people in this category. One is Tolkien; the other is living and
>> has
>> > >gone pro. But even if you’re not Mozart it doesn’t mean you can’t
>> enjoy or
>> > >create music.
>> > >
>> > >VII. How to create a naturalistic grammar for your conlang
>> > >
>> > >Let’s suppose you want to have a naturalistic grammar for your new
>> > conlang.
>> > >How could you go about it? Here’s a recipe that I’m pretty sure will
>> work
>> > >(though there’s surely other ways to bake this cake):
>> > >
>> > >1. Study the grammars of natural languages and choose grammatical
>> features
>> > >that you especially like. Make a list.
>> > >
>> > >2. Eliminate inconsistencies. If you like the head-final and SOV of
>> > >Japanese, but also the case affixes and free-form word order of Latin,
>> > >you’ve got to choose one.
>> > >
>> > >3. Cross off 40% of the remaining features. Almost for sure, you have
>> too
>> > >many features on your list. We wouldn’t be conlangers if we didn’t like
>> > >interesting language features. Take out 2/5 of your features (or at
>> least
>> > >1/3). You can incorporate them in another conlang.
>> > >
>> > >4. Now, build and describe your core grammar.
>> > >
>> > >5. Sprinkle with a few irregularities for that diachronic zest.
>> Everyone
>> > >savors a few suppletions and portmanteaus. Don’t over-spice.
>> > >
>> > >6. Use your conlang. Speak in it. Write in it. If it doesn’t feel
>> right,
>> > >then reflect on what went wrong and try again.
>> > >
>> > >And so, what I am saying here is that if you incorporate a grammatical
>> > >feature that isn’t present in any natlang, then you probably have
>> > >destroyed, or compromised, the naturalism of the grammar of your
>> conlang.
>> > >If your objective is to engineer a really unusual grammar with
>> heretofore
>> > >unseen features, that’s fine, but if you wish to produce a naturalistic
>> > >grammar, then it’s more prudent to stick with the tried-and-true
>> features
>> > >of natlang grammars. This belief is based on my intuition (admittedly
>> > >unfounded) that the corpus of the world’s natural languages contain
>> among
>> > >themselves virtually every possible natural grammatical feature of
>> human
>> > >language.
>> > >
>> > >Comments? Opinions? Disagreements? (No rants, please)
>> > >
>> > >Jeffrey
>> > ----------------------------------------------------------------
>> >
>> > No need to apologize to me regarding Ithkuil not being naturalistic.  I
>> > myself on the Ithkuil homepage clearly state as such.  Ithkuil is an
>> > experiment addressing the idea "even though human language doesn't work
>> > this way, what if it COULD work this way . . . .". In actuality, Ithkuil
>> > qualifies as an exo-lang, since it's grammar does not work anything like
>> > natural languages.
>> >
>> > As for your list of features needed to make a language naturalistic, I
>> > would add two more:
>> >
>> > 1.  Develop a rich set of conceptual metaphors and cognitive frames (as
>> I
>> > discussed in my LCC1 presentation), as cognitive linguistics has shown
>> that
>> > natural human language is replete with such structures.  In fact, the
>> > famous cognitive linguist Dr. George Lakoff has been quoted as saying
>> that
>> > the reason he doesn't consider conlangs to be real languages is because
>> of
>> > the absence of these two phenomena.
>> >
>> > 2.  Develop subtle patterns of covert irregularities and cryptotypes
>> (as I
>> > discussed in my LCC5 presentation), as again, natural human languages
>> are
>> > replete with such phenomena yet very few conlangers have bothered to
>> deal
>> > with such covert patterns.
>> >
>> > -- John Q.
>> >
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>
>



-- 
Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>