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Bob wrote :

 In terms of our duck,
> we agree that it looks something like a duck, but we haven't determined that
> it quacks or walks like one %^).
>

You'd better do, otherwise Lojban is in a plight. Don't take me wrong : I don't criticize Lojban, I just remind you that it is not different from any other language in that respect (and respect is crucial :-) - and I'm sure you did a great job lang with that loj bang though.

(snip]

> Of course we then have to decide whether a language prescription is a
> language %^).  If you were to use the language that is prescribed as having all
> the properties that you think necessary, then you've got the walk and the
> quack down, at least assumingt hat your usage matches your prescription.
>

Semantics are there to guide us to the vibrating background of human Experience. Were you on Mars, humans would quack and ducks would talk, but then *human* would translate *duckling* and reversely ;-) Concepts are not in softwares, but as far as your window.

[snip]

> But if your prescription is incomplete, what they do to make themselves
> understood may violate what linguists think are properties of natural
> languages.  For example, I might need to use non-linguistic means to
> clarify intent (like pointing at the objects I am referring to).
>

Non-linguistic ? What is not linguistic on earth ? what is not legal ? not mathematical ? not emotional ? some definitions please. Do you think I'm joking ? Well, maybe. Is that non-linguistic ? I mean, should I say or intend to say it :-) Intention - that's what makes language possible (*realis* - I'm serious).

[snip]

 You seem to think that the vocabulary is the only repository of
> >semantics in the language. Many features of morpohology and syntax amount
> >to mandatory semantics. In English, you must decide whether something is
> >singular or plural to talk about it, even if that notion is irrelevant.
>
> Actually you don't. You have to decide to treat it as if it were singular or
> plural.  "The lion is found in Africa." appreas to be singular but doesn't
> actyually imply whether multiple lions exist or not.  It is just a
> connvention that this kuind of generic statement takes the singular.
>
> But I am quibbling.

No you're not. For people like me, you're pointing THE question. You are ranking issues : first *essential* semantical features (words), then *secondary* ones (other semema, grammema). To me you're mixing concepts and words like David points it out. It's very logical and wise on the basis of nowadays' science. But do concepts match words ? Linguists would tell you no way. You experience that plural and genders are not as *important* as core-word because science tells you that *lions* only are a plurality of *lion*. But would you say that *people* are merely *human-s* ? No : you would say *men*. Did you notice it has an inflected plural ? Would you dare say it does not hold a specific semantical meaning ? Ancient Indo-Europeans would *know* that dual, trial and plural meant something more than plurality, something rooted in special concepts. Now these concepts are gone. Would you still discard these concepts as *secondary* because science tells us today that numbers 2 and 3 do !
!
!
not hold any special POWER anymore ? I respect my ancesters who were so proud of expressing genders on each noun, probably out of the pride of having discovered a *scientific* classification of the world. Would you now be so brave as to express on each noun you pronounce a classifier for *oxygen+hydrogen* or else based on today's scientific discoveries  ? :-) I bet you couldn't because we don't master our own language - and our own imagination - anymore.

Your conlanging fellow

Mathias

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