Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

General discussion about learning languages
User avatar
Deinonysus
Brown Belt
Posts: 1219
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:06 pm
Location: MA, USA
Languages:  
• Native: English
• Advanced: French
• Intermediate: German,
   Spanish, Hebrew
• Beginner: Italian,
   Arabic
x 4632

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Deinonysus » Thu Feb 22, 2024 10:12 pm

When natural languages don't behave the way you believe they ought to behave, there isn't much recourse other than to create your own language. And that's exactly what John Quijada did when he created Ithkuil, which might be right up your alley. It's a language dedicated to extreme precision where words that deal with similar things must be derived from the same root.

https://www.ithkuil.net/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithkuil

The latest version came out within the last year or two. Here is a humorous review of the previous version:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_n3loSfejg

And here is the creator's YouTube channel which contains some original songs in the previous version of Ithkuil, sung by David J. Peterson (the creator of the Dothraki and High Valerian languages).
https://www.youtube.com/@johnquijada2756

And finally, here is a very interesting New Yorker article from 2012 about Ithkuil and some of its history: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012 ... -beginners
There are so many ways for speakers of English to see the world. We can glimpse, glance, visualize, view, look, spy, or ogle. Stare, gawk, or gape. Peek, watch, or scrutinize. Each word suggests some subtly different quality: looking implies volition; spying suggests furtiveness; gawking carries an element of social judgment and a sense of surprise. When we try to describe an act of vision, we consider a constellation of available meanings. But if thoughts and words exist on different planes, then expression must always be an act of compromise.

Languages are something of a mess. They evolve over centuries through an unplanned, democratic process that leaves them teeming with irregularities, quirks, and words like “knight.” No one who set out to design a form of communication would ever end up with anything like English, Mandarin, or any of the more than six thousand languages spoken today.

“Natural languages are adequate, but that doesn’t mean they’re optimal,” John Quijada, a fifty-three-year-old former employee of the California State Department of Motor Vehicles, told me. In 2004, he published a monograph on the Internet that was titled “Ithkuil: A Philosophical Design for a Hypothetical Language.” Written like a linguistics textbook, the fourteen-page Web site ran to almost a hundred and sixty thousand words. It documented the grammar, syntax, and lexicon of a language that Quijada had spent three decades inventing in his spare time. Ithkuil had never been spoken by anyone other than Quijada, and he assumed that it never would be.

In his preface, Quijada wrote that his “greater goal” was “to attempt the creation of what human beings, left to their own devices, would never create naturally, but rather only by conscious intellectual effort: an idealized language whose aim is the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language.”

Ithkuil has two seemingly incompatible ambitions: to be maximally precise but also maximally concise, capable of capturing nearly every thought that a human being could have while doing so in as few sounds as possible. Ideas that could be expressed only as a clunky circumlocution in English can be collapsed into a single word in Ithkuil. A sentence like “On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point” becomes simply “Tram-mļöi hhâsmařpţuktôx.”
4 x
/daɪ.nə.ˈnaɪ.səs/

Cainntear
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3501
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 8764
Contact:

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Cainntear » Thu Feb 22, 2024 11:49 pm

I put a simple question to you that you have not answered yet, a question that I think an answer to would clarify what direction you're thinking in, so I will ask it again:

And now I think I understand what your issue is: you appear to hold that if you can't point at a "thing", a word used to describe it can't be a "noun", am I reading you correctly?

DarrenTomlyn wrote:
galaxyrocker wrote:So now you have problems with abstract (and collective) nouns? Or is it problems with the ambiguity? This is really all nonsensical and all over the place. There's no surprise nobody is taking it seriously.

Next you'll be quoting Terrance Howard's new math...


The very fact that all you have to label them as is 'noun' - perceived SYNTACTICS - and not any direct basic SEMANTIC concept/identity, should tell you everything you need to know about the issues, if you understand semantics and syntactics properly, of course - if you don't then say so.

Word class is syntactic, but the semantics on the word "noun" are about which syntactic category a word falls into.

As I've been saying, current understanding is so bad is almost funny...

Do you remember my "roll up! Roll up!" line? Your still telling us you know a secret but not telling us what it is.

If you don't understand what, how and why language is perceived and taught as it is currently, then you'll never understand the problems it is causing, and therefore fail to see any solutions, and so continue to fail to understand language without realising it.

If we do not, and you do, then we will never have our eyes opened to the truth of you don't actually tell us what that truth is.

You have not said the whats, wheres or whys of our mistaken notions, and again you're blaming us for not understanding what you have never actually told us.

Remember what I said in an earlier post about being banned because no-one truly understands what is currently being taught, how and why? Well this that particular problem.

Not really.

But this leads to another question: is your real problem how English grammar is taught in schools? School teachers are chronically underinformed about linguistics, and the way grammar is taught in schools really doesn't reflect what actual academics say about linguistics in any accurate manner.
7 x

User avatar
Le Baron
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3565
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:14 pm
Location: Koude kikkerland
Languages: English (N), fr, nl, de, eo, Sranantongo,
Maintaining: es, swahili.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=18796
x 9529

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Le Baron » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:48 am

This guy is full of it. All I'm seeing is old stuff rehashed and sold as new. I read this sort of stuff in Bertrand Russell's books (e.g. An Inquiry Into Meaning and Truth) long after he'd even done his best work. This stuff isn't linguistics it's philosophy of language, but it's ground that has already been trodden, absolutely ages ago.

Verdict: boring.
6 x
Pedantry is properly the over-rating of any kind of knowledge we pretend to.
- Jonathan Swift

User avatar
emk
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1652
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:07 pm
Location: Vermont, USA
Languages: English (N), French (B2+)
Badly neglected "just for fun" languages: Middle Egyptian, Spanish.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=723
x 6486
Contact:

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby emk » Fri Feb 23, 2024 1:57 am

When I was doing consulting for software companies, I quickly noticed a surprising pattern: the most successful companies were virtually always happy to talk everyone about what they were doing. In fact, they would explain enthusiastically in great detail.

Another group of companies would say, "We are working on a super promising idea, and we need help. But we don't want to share the broad outlines until after you've signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement. We don't want our competitors to learn our secret plans!"

In theory, the latter sounds entirely reasonable for a startup business. But in practice, the most secretive startups were often the most hopeless. They didn't talk to customers or investors. (Investors never sign NDAs.) They weren't in touch with their market. And when they did reveal their "secret" ideas, it was almost always hilariously cliched. "It's like Mobile Social Local Group-On for Pets!"

My takeaway from this is that few secret ideas are worth keeping secret. Usually, if you're doing anything truly novel, you'll need to spend 10 or 20 years shouting it from the rooftops in order to change the world even slightly. And the more you keep your ideas secret, the more you cut yourself off from the insights of others.

Like, I get it. I have some crank opinions too. See my language log! :lol: But I've written tens of thousands of words and spent years chatting with people who are better at learning languages than I am. And I haven't changed the world! But I did maybe help encourage a few people to push on. And that's only because I tried to explain my experiences as clearly and simply as I could. And in exchange, I benefited from the wisdom of many others.

Le Baron wrote:Verdict: boring.

I've left the thread unlocked so far because people seemed to be amusing themselves during a slow afternoon. But it doesn't seem to have anything to do with learning foreign languages. So unless the original poster wants to lay out their ideas clearly enough to get concrete feedback (or a pointer to the right person), I'll probably lock it.
12 x

User avatar
Iversen
Black Belt - 4th Dan
Posts: 4768
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: Denmark
Languages: Monolingual travels in Danish, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Romanian and (part time) Esperanto
Ahem, not yet: Norwegian, Afrikaans, Platt, Scots, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Irish, Indonesian and a few more...
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1027
x 14963

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Iversen » Fri Feb 23, 2024 9:25 am

I have - like emk - chosen not to lock the thread, mostly because it was innocuous and some members actually did a valiant effort to try to elicit some actual information about the great ideas of the OP. But absolutely nothing that could be relevant for anybody has come out of those attempts.

OK I have also had the same feeling when reading certain philosophical works by famous names, and vague as the few concrete claims by the OP are they smack more of philosophy than of linguistics (or even language paedagogics). But even philosophy ought to be more stringent and concise. The OP has apparently spent twenty years ruminating, and only once in all that time just one single academical person has listened sympathetically - and then sent the OP away to write something concrete. But in this case I don't even think there is anything concrete in the resulting opus magnum that was supposed to rock the foundations of academical linguistics. There is absolutely nothing in the vague effusions of the OP that even suggested that there might be something behind a veil of secrecy - just confusion and ideas that lead nowhere.I have myself at many occasions tried to rock those foundations, but at least I have tried to be concrete and present some ideas that could be used operationally. This means that you can argument against them or adopt them, but after all the discussion back and forth in this thread I have not even come close to understanding what the OP actually tries to say.

And this is my official academical opinion (cand.mag. in French and comparative literature) - as if having a degree mattered, but it apparently does to the OP.
6 x

Doitsujin
Green Belt
Posts: 403
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:21 pm
Languages: German (N)
x 805

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Doitsujin » Fri Feb 23, 2024 9:51 am

@DarrenTomlyn

You may have found a novel way of describing how languages came into being and how they work, but you've essentially created a solution to a non-existent problem.

Has it ever occurred to you that the one linguist who was willing to listen to your theory was merely being polite or only appreciated the originality of your theory?

Since you're apparently convinced that academia is based on the "wrong foundation," I really don't understand why exactly you're trying to get in contact with linguists. Do you expect them to validate your theory or are you looking for feedback?

You also keep mentioning the connection between games and languages, but pretty much the only thing they have in common is that they both work because of universally agreed-upon rules.
2 x

galaxyrocker
Brown Belt
Posts: 1124
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:44 am
Languages: English (N), Irish (Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge B2), French, dabbling elsewhere sometimes
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=757
x 3358

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby galaxyrocker » Fri Feb 23, 2024 9:59 am

Doitsujin wrote:You also keep mentioning the connection between games and languages, but pretty much the only thing they have in common is that they both work because of universally agreed-upon rules.


I think the connection with 'games' was that it was an abstract noun, and thus what sparked the author thinking that such things can't exist. Nouns must be something physical, and, well, the concept of 'game' is not. It also led him to realize there was ambiguity. What is a game, what is a puzzle? Are puzzles a type of game, etc? And other stuff he didn't like, and thinks that using the same word ('noun') for things which aren't physical objects, is an issue. At least, that's my interpretation of what he doesn't like. Abstract things being called 'nouns' and ambiguity in conceptualisation between different people.
0 x

Cainntear
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3501
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 8764
Contact:

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Cainntear » Fri Feb 23, 2024 11:16 am

galaxyrocker wrote:
Doitsujin wrote:You also keep mentioning the connection between games and languages, but pretty much the only thing they have in common is that they both work because of universally agreed-upon rules.


I think the connection with 'games' was that it was an abstract noun, and thus what sparked the author thinking that such things can't exist. Nouns must be something physical, and, well, the concept of 'game' is not. It also led him to realize there was ambiguity. What is a game, what is a puzzle? Are puzzles a type of game, etc? And other stuff he didn't like, and thinks that using the same word ('noun') for things which aren't physical objects, is an issue. At least, that's my interpretation of what he doesn't like. Abstract things being called 'nouns' and ambiguity in conceptualisation between different people.

Yup, and I've been trying to give him the opportunity to better explain his thinking and he hasn't done it.

I wanted to get a feel for his starting position, because I think I have an idea of what he's trying to say, but I kind of needed to hear it from him first.

But that's not going to happen, so here goes.

It seems to be that he is accusing academia of engaging in reification of abstract concepts by putting the word describing an abstract concept into the same category as a word representing a physical concept, by calling them both "noun". His claim appears to be that academics are doing this contrary to natural language, which he describes as something that evolved with humans.
However, reification is a typically human tendancy -- we can and do readily overgeneralise people, places and things into "them and us" dichotomies. This results in all sorts of things from "we don't like him because he goes to a different school from us" to "we will wipe these people out because they don't look like us".
If academics are reifying, it's because reification is a human trait, and language has evolved to give expression to things the human brain sees as important.

This is why I find his argument hard to follow. He appears to be accusing academics of going against the human evolution of language by manifesting common human cognitive strategies.
2 x

Ug_Caveman
Green Belt
Posts: 464
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:58 am
Location: England
Languages: English (N), Dutch (A2 - July 2021), working towards B1
x 1092

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Ug_Caveman » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:39 pm

Iversen wrote:And this is my official academical opinion (cand.mag. in French and comparative literature) - as if having a degree mattered, but it apparently does to the OP.

I too shall be offering my academic opinion as an astrophysicist (MSc):

None of this matters anyway, in 5 billion years the Sun will swell up and whatever is left of life on Earth will fast become extinct.

(Seriously though, I genuinely cannot work out what the OP is trying to say, so if anyone would put it in layman's terms so I can understand what I don't understand?)
2 x
Languages: English (N), Dutch (passed A2 exam in May 2021, failed B1 in May 2023 - never sit an exam when you have food poisoning!)

Seeking: Linguaphone Polish and Linguaphone Afrikaans

Cainntear
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3501
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 8764
Contact:

Re: Is there anyone here (academia) who can help me?

Postby Cainntear » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:51 pm

Ug_Caveman wrote:(Seriously though, I genuinely cannot work out what the OP is trying to say, so if anyone would put it in layman's terms so I can understand what I don't understand?)

It's impossible to put in layman's terms to make you understand what you don't understand because I don't understand what you don't understand that you don't understand, and I don't understand what he understands that we don't understand. Maybe the problem is that I've spent too long in academia...
2 x


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest