Michael Farris wrote: [snip] > > > What the hell is Loglan/Lojban? > > > > Loglan was an attempt to create a language with a completely logical > structure (while still maintaining West European linguistic cultural > categories) Lojban was the result of a split in the Loglan movement. I'm not sure about the original goals of Loglan, since I came in well after Lojban had been up and running. However, it is certainly NOT a Lojban goal to maintain "West European cultural categories" - quite the opposite in fact. The whole point of Lojban is that it tries to be as culturally neutral as possible. This applies to the source vocabulary, which is taken from Chinese, Hindi, English, Spanish, Arabic and Russian, in that order (though so mangled by the Lojban vocabulary algorithm as to be virtually a priori!). More importantly, though, Lojban tries to avoid unmarked culture-specific metaphor. Anyone who has read any cognitive linguistics will understand the importance (and the difficulty!) of this. For example, Turkish "anafikir" - literally "mother idea", but actually "main idea" - would not translate into Lojban as "mamta sidbo" because the metaphorical use of "mother" to mean "main" is specific to Turkish and would confuse non-Turks. Lojban "mamta sidbo" could mean the kind of idea that mothers would come up with, the idea of motherhood or whatever, depending on context - if you want to be more specific, you can coin a compound word like "mamsidbo" and hope it catches on. One could argue, of course, that predicate logic - the basis for Lojban grammar - is a Western European cultural concept, but I think this is a bit like arguing that scientific method is a Euro-concept, or that the mathematical use of zero is an Indian/Arabic concept. The important point is that it is not modelled on a particular natlang grammar - even the standard word order, which corresponds roughly to SVO, can be modified at will, so I can say la memet. cu prami la leylas. (Mehmet loves/adores Leyla) or la memet la leylas. cu prami or even prami la memet. la leylas. and this is without even changing the place-structure of "prami"! Lojban also has a lot of (usually optional) grammatical features from non-European languages, particularly as regards aspect. > > Currently Lojban has more people interested in it, but I have the feeling > it's only ever mentioned as a potential IAL because no one can figure out > what else to do with it. Originally use as an IAL was pretty low down on Lojban's priorities, in fact the introductory blurb says that it is one of the few conlangs that does not see itself as in direct competition with Esperanto. For most Lojbanists it is, I admit, mainly a hobby language, but it has a number of purposes, apart from its original aim as a kind of Sapir-Whorf thought experiment. These include human-machine interaction and AI research, a meta-language for linguistics, and an introspection device (I find one of the advantages of Lojban for me is that by translating into Lojban I can clarify my own thinking). From the IAL point of view, I can see Lojban being used in contexts where precision and range of expression are priorities. As an easily understood, easily-learnt IAL, Oc has Lojban beaten hands down, but if you wanted to discuss, for example, law, psychology or philosophy, Lojban would probably be an improvement not only on IALs, but also on natlangs. It all depends on what you want to do with a language. > From what I understand it's more used to create > sample sentences than to communicate with anyone. There is usually a fair amount of Lojban communication on the Lojban list, but like most IALs, Lojban suffers from the fact that almost everybody speaking the language is also fluent in English, even if they're not native speakers, so most postings are in English. Nevertheless, even as a fairly novice Lojbanist, I find myself throwing bits of Lojban - especially the attitudinal indicators - into my English postings, since it expresses what I want to say briefly and precisely. It's just easier to write, as I recently did, "u'u.u'i", rather than "I am both apologetic and amused". I can also construct words in Lojban which have no English equivalent, e.g. aicaiuinaicai - a feeling of being deeply unhappily deeply in love (Turkish "karasevda"). For more info on Lojban, you can visit the Lojban WWW Archive at http://xiron.pc.helsinki.fi/lojban/ or the new Lojban Information Site at http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/hezekiah/lojban/ co'o mi'e robin.