On Sat, Jun 6, 2015 at 3:34 AM, David Peterson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I think a general problem I’m sensing is the status of conlanging—that is,
> whether it’s an art or not. If it is, it probably can’t be quantified; if
> it isn’t, maybe it can. I don’t think we (and by “we” I mean humanity) know
> enough about language and its origins yet to make that determination. Not a
> bad idea to try, though, I suppose. It’s an interesting thought experiment,
> like coming up with an algorithm to determine the objective quality of a
> work of fiction.

> > On Jun 4, 2015, at 12:32 PM, Jeffrey Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > David P: The process is not the test. The test of a lightbulb is to screw
> > it into the socket, turn on the current, and see if it glows. The
> > manufacturing process does not figure. A sound manufacturing process may
> > indeed produce high quality lightbulbs, but the two things are
> > intrinsically different.

> Speaking of intrinsically different, so is creating a lightbulb and
> creating a conlang. One is defined by its functionality; the other is
> not—or need not be. I gather that what you’re trying to do is create this
> “test” similar to the one with the lightbulb, but the test cannot exist for
> an artistic language. It’s a bit like coming up with a human test (i.e. how
> likely a thing is to be a real human based on input) and running the
> characters in a novel through the test in order to determine how realistic
> the novel is.
> ​

​​​I believe this is a false dichotomy (Is conlanging an art or not). ​In
fact, we could have a long discussion about exactly what is meant by "art"
- but let's not. Instead of the lightbulb analogy, let's use playing the
piano. There are artistic aspects (How does the pianist interpret and
express a composition by Mozart), and aspects of technique (How quickly
does she release the keys). There are objective measures (Did she hit any
wrong notes?) and aesthetic measures (Does she overuse ritardando).

Now, the process by which our pianist has achieved her result (How long
does she practice? Does she use a metronome? Does she listen to recordings
of other pianists? Does her dog sit underneath the piano?) may be a guide
to how other pianists can achieve artistic mastery, but there may be other
methods that work just as well.

The point being that process and result are different, and that any
assessment (whether objective or aesthetic) is based on the result, not on
the process by which it was achieved.

There isn't an objective metric by which one can judge the naturalism of a
conlang. Yet, there are some objective measures that can be taken into
account. I posited that utilizing a novel grammatical feature, one that was
present in no natlang whatsoever, would compromise the naturalism of the
grammar. This is like saying hitting the wrong notes on the piano will
compromise the beauty of the performance. Whether the performance is
beautiful, as a whole, is an aesthetic judgement, but there are some
objective factors that figure into the assessment. I think that the
aesthetic appreciation of conlangs is influenced by objective factors

And this is another important point, the assessment of art is a social
construct. How do we ("we" being the people of a particular society) decide
whether or not a work of art is good? Well, continuing with the piano
analogy, if a bunch of respected pianists and musical critics say, "That
was good," then we (society) consider it good. Individuals can disagree,
(and do often, especially if they are the musicians panned, or whose
competitors are praised). Likewise, there is a society of conlangers, as
this electronic forum evidences, and it is the shared opinion of the
respected members that determines the "artfulness" or "naturalism" or
"cleverness" or just plain old "goodness" of a conlang. And individuals
can, and often do, disagree.

> ***
> Here’s a question to those who have been following and participating in
> this thread—something to think about and perhaps to answer: What is the
> point of the various approaches being evinced here? It occurs to me that
> different people may be aiming at different goal posts, which will
> complicate the discussion. That is, which of these is the point:
> (a) To determine how natural a given naturalistic conlang is.
> (b) To determine whether one conlang is more naturalistic than another.
> (c) To define naturalism in conlanging.
> (d) To give conlangers a framework for creating naturalistic conlangs.
> (e) To help conlangers create more naturalistic-looking conlangs faster.
> (f) To determine the quality of a conlang.
> Because I’ll admit, I’m mainly talking about (c), but it looks like
> Jeffrey and Alex are variously talking about (d), (e), (a) or (b)—or
> perhaps some other point that I’m missing. That is, I haven’t even been
> attempting to give advice on how to produce a better naturalistic conlang
> (or how to do it faster). If we’re not talking about the same things, we
> might have a harder time finding common ground.

​My original posting was mostly (d), but specifically about naturalistic
conlang *grammars*, and a little bit about (e), also specifically grammars.​

I was looking at the categories of conlangs, and explaining why I felt that
some of the categories resulted more often in naturalistic grammars. In my
subjective opinion, that is. I think this was an initial attempt at a