Gerald Koenig wrote:

> My view is that language is the most general purpose tool man has ever
> conceived. And like that other general purpose tool we are communicating
> on,the computer, there are differences.

Yes there are differences, but I see it as a little more mercurial than
this. To be sure, language is a "tool", but is it a tool that humankind
actually *conceived*? Doesn't language have intimate links with
psychological phenomena (like consciousness, brain development - I'm out
of my depth here) in ways a spear, a boat, a computer do not? And even
leaving the murky origins of language aside, do natlang communities go,
"Ya know, isolating isn't really working for us. Let's agglutinate."?

The old academic saw, "Do we speak language or does language speak us?",
and musings on Sapir-Whorf say to me that there is a much more complex
psychological pas de deux with language than there is with other
"tools", and so saying that Language X is better/more effective overall
than Language Y is not akin to saying a sword is better than a roughly
hewn stone, rather it is like saying People/Culture X is better/more
effective overall than People/Culture Y.

> Vector tense time claims can be made as vague or nonexistent as you
> like, there is nothing obligatory about it. You choose your level of
> specifity. Is choice a bad thing? Is obligatory vagueness and
> imprecision a good thing? Or should it be used as an art form? Is it
> best for production contracts?

I apologize for attributing to your system a feature that isn't there -
namely, obligatoriness. If the choice in level of specificity is similar
to what was described in the site Charles linked us to, it's an
intriguing concept. Will NGL have this kind of flexibility with _all_
its features, and if so, how will speakers cope?

> >And what is exactly meant by "overall effectiveness" or "effective
> >communication"?

> I understand that you are skeptical that any such things exist or are
> definable in the real world. Probably I can't change your opinion on
> that.

Could well be (though I'm not being skeptical to be curmudgeonly), but
all I was asking for here was *your* definition of these terms, not to
ensnare you with an "a-HA!", but to better understand your argument.

And later in a different post you say:

>I'm all too painfully aware that not
>everyone believes in the possibility or desirability of generalized
>language improvement.

Again, could you define your term, "generalized language improvement"?

> I don't believe in a God's -eye view. But there is such a thing as
> shifts in point of view summing to a better overall conception. A well
> sewn patchwork quilt is a thing of wonder. A global patchwork quilt of a
> language would be less exclusive than a "framed shot".

Tom Wier articulated my thoughts on this more clearly than
trapped-in-metaphor-hell me when he said:

matter what NGL proposes to add to its linguistic repertoir, by the very
act of defining what it can do it defines what it can also _not_ do.
That is,
by not saying explicitly whether a given language has (e.g.) a system of
honorifics, it is implicitly stating that there is no _coherent_ (i.e.,
system of honorifics available in the language.  It could then be
claimed that
that language is not as _easy_  (keeping questions of
away from ones of complexity), and therefore, not as good.  _Ex
there is no way to have a system of any kind of representation without
limiting it, and so if there are limits, some people might think that
things not allowed for in the system are exactly what they would want
made explicit.


That pretty much sums my concern with your premise.

>Thanks for responding. I hate it when a post vanishes into cyberspace
>without a trace.

And thanks to you as well. I've enjoyed this discussion.

I'd like to address some other posts on this topic, but Typhoon Zeb is
knocking right outside the door (possible day off tomorrow - yahoo!), so
if I want to make it home, I'd better don my snorkel gear and head out