On 10 June 2016 at 17:38, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> In an earlier email you wrote:
> "The platonic bit is the idea that langue can exist without
> parole; langue exists in the platonic universe of ideas."
> You are happy enough to allow that for natural languages,
> yet you require a language creator/inventor/author (or
> whatever) to make her/his langue explicit.

Not at all. I say that a conlanger has invented or authored a langue only
if they are capable (given sufficient free time) of making it explicit,
i.e. that is at least explicit in their mind. Since creation is a broader
notion than invention or authorship, I have not made a claim about
creation. And I certainly don't require conlangers to do anything (other
than, ideally, to be more diffident about believing they actually have
authored or invented fully working languages).

> What I did not understand is why the langue of, say, Quenya
> or Sindarin may not also exist in the platonic universe of
> ideas (assuming, for the sake of argument, the existence of
> such a world). Why, on the one hand was it held that
> English, Swahili or Tamil are languages and that their
> langue is implicit and exists in the platonic universe of
> ideas, but the langue of Quenya does not?

I would say that the langue of Quenya, as invented by JRRT, does exist in
this platonic universe, but that it is not a full langue but rather
comprises only the externals and not the inner workings.

One may also suppose that there also exists in the platonic universe a full
working langue of Quenya, unknown to any human, but known to the elves; but
JRRT invented only the externals of this full working langue, and not its

>>> This is not what I understand by a pidgin.  However,
>>> all it seems to say to me is that if a conlang
>>> attracts a group of people who actually use the
>>> language for communication (I assume both spoken and
>>> written and produced some literature) then it become a
>>> language. So Volapük, Esperanto, Klingon, Lojban are
>>> languages? But not, I guess, Spelin, Bolak, Euroling,
>>> TAKE, Outidic etc. etc.
>> There are two Klingons, Klingon1, which is authored,
>> explicit, internally incomplete, and not a language, and
>> Klingon2, which is the langue implicit in Klingon parole,
>> which is pidgin, implicit, internally complete and is a
>> language.
> Which confirms what I wrote.  If a conlang attracts users
> who speak and write it among themselves, lo and behold the
> conlang, which in your definitions had no langue and was,
> therefore, not a language, has now become a language with an
> implicit langue.  Which merely seems to say:
> (a) If a conlang has no parole and no explicitly defined
> langue, it ain't a language;
> (b) If, however, it develops parole then it acquires an
> implicit langue and is a language.
> If this is so, then in whatever universe of ideas its langue
> exists in, it is not Platonic world of pre-existent Ideas/Forms.
> There is Outidic1, which is authored, explicit,
>> internally incomplete, and not a language. But there is
>> no Outidic2 that is the langue implicit in (nonexistent)
>> Outidic parole, which would be pidgin, implicit,
>> internally complete and a language.
> Obviously translations into the language by the author do
> not constitute parole, otherwise Outidic would be a
> language.  But I have discovered someone out there in the
> cyber-universe of the Internet who maintains an Outidic
> lexicon, so obviously at least one person is interested  :)
> So if I bothered to attract a community of users, Outidic
> would be transformed into a language.  Ummm ;)

That's one way of looking at it. I find it more perspicuous to separate the
equivocated senses of _Outidic_, so that it is polysemous or else
monosemous but with a sense that changes as the world changes. I don't see
that there is a thing out there in the physical realm or in the platonic
realm that gets transformed.

> There are (in my terms) 'platonic' (or 'cognitive') and
>> 'semiotic' conceptions of langue.
> While your above uses of langue may be cognitive, it is IMO
> misleading to call them 'platonic.'  As it was Saussure who
> coined the term _langue_, I think it would have been helpful
> to have made it clear that your use of langue does not have
> a semiotic meaning.

If you find good grounds for arguing to the contrary (of my reading of S),
I'd be delighted to hear why, but my reading of Saussure (in English
translation) is that the platonic--semiotic distinction is not drawn and
Saussure's langue is equally compatible with either the platonic or the
semiotic conception. (I should add that particularly in the case of
Saussure, given how the Cours came into being, I have very little patience
for the interminable and, to me, pointless and tedious debate about what he
really meant.)

> On the 'platonic'/'cognitive' conception, langue exists
>> in the realm of ideas;
> "realm of ideas" is vague.  Does it have an existence except
> in a human mind?

Yes (else some term such as 'mental' would be preferable).

> The term _platonic_ (small P) is here used in the sense
>> of 'pertaining to the realm of ideas' rather than in the
>>  sense of 'pertaining to Plato' (or even to Plato's
>> theory of Forms). (In the very unlikely event that you
>> are unfamiliar with this sense of 'platonic', look up
>> 'mathematical platonism' for an example of it;
> I have looked it up; and what is the first thing I find?
> "Platonism about mathematics (or mathematical platonism) is
> the metaphysical view that there are abstract mathematical
> objects *whose existence is independent of us and our
> language, thought, and practices*. Just as electrons and
> planets exist independently of us, so do numbers and sets.
> And just as statements about electrons and planets are made
> true or false by the objects with which they are concerned
> and these objects' perfectly objective properties, so are
> statements about numbers and sets. *Mathematical truths are
> therefore discovered, not invented*."
> Emphasis is mine. Plato would have agreed with this and it
> is what I understand by Platonism.


I am guessing that your emphasis is intended to suggest that platonic
things cannot be invented but only discovered. What we call 'invention' and
'authorship' is a kind of discovery of platonic things. The encyclopedia
makes use of a sense of 'invented' that is incompatible with 'discovered',
and in that sense of 'invented', even what we call 'invention' is in fact
not invention but discovery.

> it is a synonym of 'realist' in the metaphysical sense.)
> The only problem, as I see it, is that different thinkers
> seem to have different ideas as to what metaphysical realism
> is.  The Wikipedia entry on philosophic realism has sections
> on: Platonic realism, Medieval realism, The Scottish School
> of Common Sense Realism, Naïve realism, Scientific realism,
> and Aesthetic realism.  So IMO saying that your use of
> 'platonist' is synonymous with 'realist' in the metaphysical
> sense is not helpful without more precise definition.

Okay, but happily you have in your own reading confirmed that, as I had
expected, you understand 'platonic' without needing recourse to further
discussion of realism.