Author Topic: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,  (Read 207 times)

Offline Aldebaran

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So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« on: October 16, 2017, 04:08:56 AM »
I know how this sounds. "How can you possibly express day-to-day phrases with only thirty-two words?" you must be asking!

Well, the language is functional, and I can demonstrate how. First, let's establish what I mean when I say "word". In this language, each word is called a "particle", and phonetically represents a part of a syllable (depending on how sophisticated the level of speech, a syllable will contain anywhere from one to nine parts). Each syllable is represented by a letter (the writing system for it shall be explained later).

(Come to think of it, these are more like morphemes than actual words, but still, they are the only things the language uses.)

The different parts (each particle represents one of each), are (in order of sophistication, low to high): vowel, opening consonant, finishing consonant, vowel modifier, consonant modifier, accent (or secondary vowel modifier), tone, voice and finally "clickative". A simple calculation shows us that there are a massive thirty-five trillion (35e12, 32^9) different distinct letters in this language. Even at a lower (yet still rather high, from a phonetic standpoint, when compared to English) level of phonetic sophistication, one only involving four parts of the syllable (vowel, two consonants and a vowel modifier), we still get over a million different letters.

Now you must be wondering, how does this language work? It's actually simpler than you might think, and I can teach you pretty much the entire thing now.

First, some ground concepts. A "structure" is a set of particles that receives, from the fundamental concepts in it, a greater meaning. These can interact, in a way identical to the particles within them, to create "superstructures", which can interact to create even larger structures, ad infinitum.

Eventually, each such set of particles, how many structures they might be, will form a "system". You can think of these as standalone nouns, and they have no grammar between them. An example of a "sentence" in this language, if we were to think of it in terms of English words, would be something as the following:

The sentence "I looked at a car." would, in terms of systems, look like "I | A car | My causing of my knowledge of it", or, in one system, "My causing of my knowledge of the car". Each system is presented per se, and have no objective interaction with one another. Structures, on the other hand, do have interactions with one another, but I will get to the details of that later.

Now for the actual particles, or words. Due to the way the language works, each can be represented by a five-digit binary string (after all, thirty-two), so we'll refer to each as 10010 and the like rather than their actual pronunciation.

Each have their own meanings, and these meanings can change via context or actual in-system modification.

00000 - This particle means death, loss, oblivion, and the uniformalisation of information (the making of different things into same things).

00001 - This particle means life, creation, and the variation of information (taking uniform things and making them into informationally varied objects).

00010 - Order, structure in general, logic and the logical connection between different things.

00011 - Chaos, lack of structure, lack of logic and the lack of the logical connection between different things.

00100 - Time, points (within a medium) and the interconnection of different things, taking two unrelated things and making a connection between them (think, like picking out a person from a crowd).

00101 - Space, media (as in, plural of medium), and the static relations between different things in one medium (think, like what a map does).

00110 - The alien, the obscure and distant, things beyond our set of axioms, simulation, imagination (imagination meaning more of a direction of what this could imply, the structure signifying imagination itself should use another particle or two).

00111 - The mind, thought, control, being able two take two things and manipulate them.

These are the first eight. They are by far the most important, as they represent eight of the nine fundamental concepts on which most structures are built.

01000 - Negation (to be used after another particle).

01001 - The number Nine, along with the infinite, and vastness in general.

01010 - The "empty variable"; this is a slightly more grammatical particle, and you can think of it as the "focus point of a structure". Basically, what it does is clarifies that "this structure's meaning is defined from MY point of view!", without actually changing the meaning of the relation between the particles themselves. An example would be the difference between the structure "bzins (10011+01010+00000)" and the structure "thols (01010+10011+00000)". The first means "death that is caused", while the other means "cause of death". By changing the focus of the structure, we changed its meaning. (I'd like to point out that this particle is a lot more powerful than I'm making it out to be, but as of now within this document, I don't have any better example you would understand.)

01011 - Self, identity (identity meaning an "address" of an object).

01100 - The structure particle, I'll explain in the section about grammar.

01101 - Used to signify names and loanwords (basically, when you surround a structure with two of these, it automatically loses any meaning that the particles related to the phonetic pieces themselves would carry).

01110 - I haven't yet really fleshed out this one entirely quite yet, but for now just remember it as the "form particle".

01111 - Neutrality, nullification. (This is the ninth of "the Nine".)

These eight didn't really have any ongoing theme between them (them all, to be precise, as each pair is related to one another), but the following eight are all grammatical.

10000 - The destination particle. This particle is to be used between two others to signify that the first is "destined" to the second, and is pretty similar to the word "to" in English. It can also take the role of "in", "when" et cetera; in other situations.

10001 - The possession particle. Pretty much functions identically to 's in English, or the Chinese "de".

10010 - The relation particle. This is one of the most powerful particles in the language, and is somewhat similar to the word "of" in English. To better understand when this would be used, think of the phrase "time of sleep"; in it, we are talking about an hour that relates to sleep. Similarly, this particle is to be used between two others to describe a similar relation (though usually, it implies a stronger relation than the English counterpart; think of a phrase like "time that is very much related to sleep", yet one that doesn't turn the "sleep" into an adjective for the "time" (as there is a different grammatical function for that)).

10011 - The causation particle. Basically, to be used between two particles to imply that the first causes the second.

10100 - Similar to "and", but also to be used for all other things that imply addition.

10101 - Similar to "or", but implies more that one negates the other.

Oh boy! We're about to get to the two funnest particles on the list, and by far some of the most powerful and important in the entire language. These are two of the three modifier particles (the third is the negation particle).

10110 - The quantification modifier particle. This is to be used after another particle to imply that its meaning is more physical and tangible. An example would be using this after 00001 (creation), to change its abstract and varying meaning to simply "life-form/s", "creation/s (noun)". This is used to signify events, objects, and similar things (dreams are considered events for this purpose).

10111 - The abstraction modifier particle. This, unlike the previous, is to be used after another particle to signify that it is a more abstract and conceptual concept rather than something in some way tangible or physical. An example would be using it after the 00010 particle (order), to change its meaning into simply "logic".

Now, the last eight are by far the simplest, and represent the numbers from one to eight. That being said, they each have their own cultural/numerological connotations (as this language is featured in a fictional world related to my other works) (to imply them more explicitly, one can use the 10111 particle), so I'll still have to detail.

11000 - One, associated with singularity, smallness and the likes.

11001 - Two, associated with mystery and question.

11010 - Three, associated with conspiracies and the divine (divine in the "one that rules us all" sense).

11011 - Four, associated with deep and hard to grasp science, the dark arts and the secrets of the universe.

11100 - Five, associated with industry, weaponry, and all those two could imply combined.

11101 - Six, associated with evil, the occult, and similar concepts.

11110 - Seven, associated with God and the inevitable death of us all.

And finally! Last, but not least,

11111 - Eight, associated with the messiah, the idea of the savior, and heroism.


Now that we're done with the definitions, it's time for the grammar. It's pretty simple overall.

The different particles have different grammatical roles, and split into a few groups.

Constants (and variables) (00XXX and 011XX particles) - These are the first group, and are the basic building blocks for structures as a whole. If two of these are placed one after another without a relative (detailed later), the first "deviates" the second, creating a new "semiconstant", which grammatically functions exactly the same as a constant, simply with a different definition. The definition of the new semiconstant is interpreted as the second of the two, the second modifying its definition in a similar manner to an adjective (yet it modifies it greatly); for example, taking the particle 01110 and after it 01111 will give you "imagination", meaning "other-worldly thought"unrealistic thought" in direct translation. Now, if three or more are placed one after the other, you start with the last, deviating it with the one before it, resulting with a semiconstant. You then repeat the process with the one before it, until you reach the last constant in the row. Basically, when faced with more than two constants in a row, you treat each previous one like it deviates all the ones after it together (think, "a big angry man" instead of "a really angry man"). In order to deviate with a semiconstant (in order to create things like "a really angry man"), one has to separate it, from what one wants to deviate, using a structure particle.

Oh, and speaking of which-

Structurals (0101X particles) - Particles from the second group are to be placed between two structures in order to signify that they are indeed separate. In order to separate superstructures, one just uses two of the particle (generally, for an n-th order separation, one uses n of the particle in a row).

We have three more groups to cover.

Relators (100XX and 1010X particles) - The grammar behind these is extremely simple and has already been covered in their definitions.

Modifiers (01000 and 1011X particles) - Also very simple and already covered.

Numerals (01001 and 11XXX particles) - Basically, when used before the particle they imply the cardinal number of the object (five apples et cetera), and when used after imply the ordinal numeration of the object (which includes perspective (first person et cetera)).

Well! That's it! The only other thing we need to cover is the order of operations (which interpretive operations come first/which grammatical rules are to be taken into consideration over others).

Basically, we first interpret (or "combine") modifiers and the particle before them, then we deviate constants with one another (numerals can be treated like constants here unless no other constant comes right after), then we consider the numerals when used after "constant-blocks"; lastly, we consider the 01011 constant, and then finish with interpreting the 01010 (connecting the structures).

It is important to point out that the exact same rules apply on interpreting the grammar at the level of structures (of different order).

Anddddd- done with grammar! The only thing we have left to explain is how each particle can be pronounced, which is by far the easiest stage. However, I will only explain the first four levels of sophistication for now since I am running out of time.

00000 - m (like in "mass")/(blank (or ə))/s ("mass")/(blank)

00001 - r (English)/e ("egg")/z ("foxes", "pose")/-y ("boil", "mile", "eye", "kind", et cetera)

00010 - p/a ("ant")/p/y- ("yak", "yard")

00011 - b/o ("hog")/b/y-y ("yay")

00100 - h (can be emphasised)("hat")/n (more like "ən")/sh ("ash", "lush")/w- ("queen", "swell")

00101 - rh (the throatal r (most like the Hebrew "Rheysh"))/en ("hen")/zh (basically the vocalised version of sh)/w-y ("way", "dweeb", "why")

00110 - f/an ("fan")/f/o- (tsabit difficult to explain this in writing, but think of it as the German "oe" (o with umlaut) at the end of the vowel)

00111 - v/on/v/o-y

01000 - t/i ("in")/t/-w ("ow")

01001 - d/ii ("naive")/d/-o

01010 - k/u ("up")/k/y-w

01011 - g/uu ("doot")/g/y-o

01100 - th ("thin")/in/th/w-w

01101 - dh ("this")/iin/dh/w-o

01110 - kh (like the Hebrew khet)/un/kh/o-w

01111 - gh (vocalised version of khet)/uun/gh/o-o

10000 - s/l/m/r- ("Brandon")

10001 - z/el/mz/r-y

10010 - ps/al/mp/R (Hebrew r)

10011 - bz/ol/mb/R-y

10100 - sh/r/msh/l- ("bland")

10101 - zh/er/mzh/l-y

10110 - psh/ar/mf/L- (Japanese l/r)

10111 - bzh/or/mv/L-y

11000 - ts/il/mt/r-w

11001 - dz/iil/md/r-o

11010 - ks/ul/mk/R-w

11011 - gz/uul/mg/R-o

11100 - tsh/ir/mth/l-w

11101 - dzh/iir/mdh/l-o

11110 - ksh/ur/mkh/L-w

11111 - gzh/uur/mgh/L-o

Well, that's all! If you have any questions or something to say, feel free to post on this thread.

Offline Daniel

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2017, 02:22:56 PM »
This has been attempted before, and there are several limitations to the approach and remarks I can make.

1. Humans are great at learning vocabulary, so there is in a cognitive sense little need to do this. Yes, it takes some time to learn words so there may be a shortcut allowed by this approach, but only if it really results in a fully expressive language. Does it? Can it?

2. A combination of limited morphemes can work in a minimally expressive language. The go-to example of Toki Pona, which is a minimal language (around 120 morphemes, admittedly more than yours) that does not attempt to replace spoken languages in expressiveness but rather offers an alternative form of expression-- that's the point.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toki_Pona
http://tokipona.net/

3. Another relevant experiment is Simple English:
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
The idea is that by using only around 800 words, English learners will more easily be able to communicate, use Wikipedia, etc. The idea is interesting and actually somewhat effective. But what is the result? The Wikipedia experiment has shown something very important: instead of just learning 800 words, a Simple English user must actually memorize many more collocations as well, phrases with two or more words, to substitute for the other beyond-800 words found in English. There are simply more than 800 ideas in English that are not easily built up from simple parts. Even if you could in theory only talk about things using circumlocutions, users would want direct and consistent ways to refer to specific concepts. An example from Toki Pona is "crazy water" used to refer to alcohol. So in reality that's another new word in Toki Pona (along with many others, and similarly so for many scientific and other terms in Simple English), which must be memorized, and in the end very little is "saved" by having few morphemes, because in fact those idiomatic collocations are themselves necessarily new morphemes even though they are build from recognizable parts. It's like saying that English "greenhouse" is really just two morphemes stuck together rather than adding a new word/morpheme to the language-- an illusion at best, and more realistically just a delusion of whoever is counting. In the end, if the language you made is practical at all, it's just a matter of time and use until there are dozens and then hundreds and then thousands of collocations like that. Give it even more time and sound change will take over, and you'll end up with unrecognizable derivations, just like in natural languages.

4. While many general ideas can be broken down into a small number of parts, there is simply no way to get to more specific concepts like "tree" or "squirrel" or "sing" (without adding idiomatic collocations). An example of how this works out, and very similar to what you have designed, is NSM, which attempts to find the "universal" basic meanings from all human languages:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_semantic_metalanguage
The proposals range from around 11 to over 70. It's important to read carefully what the proposals really are, however. They are not attempting to reduce all vocabulary to these primes. Instead, they are finding primes within some aspects of existing vocabulary. In other words, yes, this can work (according to that theory) for some vocabulary (or parts of vocabulary), but they do not really attempt to replace words like "tree" or "squirrel" or "sing" with these primes. So the realistic goal of that methodology is not to reduce human language to the fewest possible primes (as you might think first looking at it), but instead to come up with as many primes as possible that are actually found in all languages. Obviously the number of primes should be minimal (completely decomposed to their basic elements-- that's what a prime is, by definition), but the goal isn't to artificially reduce all of them but instead to actually find all of them. There is a lot of overlap with the concepts you mentioned above and those proposals, so you might want to look into them. There are also many critiques and criticisms of that approach, so you can look into that side of things too. One issue is that languages do not really seem to consistently use the primes on the surface in the structure of words. So if there is any truth to that analysis, it's not because it's transparently how words are derived, so it wouldn't line up with your proposal in a literal sense.

5. More generally, the idea of having few morphemes building up many meanings in a language is called Oligosynthesis, coined by Benjamin Whorf around 1928. It's confusingly not the opposite of polysynthesis (combining many morphemes into a single word) but actually (possibly) correlated with it (using few morphemes total to make up all words, presumably sometimes via polysynthesis).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligosynthetic_language
Whorf pursued the idea of Oligosynthesis for a couple years just as he was getting into Linguistics and before his formal study of the subject, really just a brief moment in his career. After he got involved in serious study of linguistics, he moved on, and it doesn't seem that anyone else has taken up the idea very seriously. He originally proposed that some indigenous languages of Mexico had oligosynthetic structure because it seemed that just a few basic roots occurred over and over again, although that analysis does not seem to have been widely accepted. Really, the idea seems to have been more or less forgotten (or consciously ignored) in linguistics research.
However, I recently did some research on the topic, with one crucial difference: I wasn't claiming that languages as a whole are truly oligosynthetic (there are various reasons that doesn't seem practical) but that some subsystems of languages could be. So rather than looking for languages with a very small dictionary, the question is whether some languages so oligosynthetic tendencies in some areas. In fact, one that I identified is how serial verb constructions (think of "go carry" as "take" and "come carry" as "bring", sort of like compounds but actually still separate words and possibly stacked) can in some languages seem to augment the lexicon. Of course very often they do become lexicalized (and therefore no longer oligosynthetic because they're newly memorized if somewhat transparent morphemes!). But some langauges seem to do very well with productive and systematic usage of just a few verbal roots. So in that sense there are aspects of natural languages that work like that, and similarly the system you propose could function but only as part  of a fully expressive communication system. A completely oligosynthetic language seems inherently limited, or at the very least unlikely to be stable over continued usage.

I've written more about oligosynthesis here by the way:
https://www.quora.com/Why-don%E2%80%99t-natural-oligosynthetic-languages-exist/answer/Daniel-Ross-71
https://www.quora.com/If-you-have-to-invent-a-language-of-20-words-only-What-would-they-be-And-why/answer/Daniel-Ross-71
Also consider:
https://www.quora.com/What-are-examples-of-useful-artificial-languages/answer/Daniel-Ross-71
Welcome to Linguist Forum! If you have any questions, please ask.

Offline panini

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2017, 05:43:11 PM »
So just to understand how this works, how exactly do you say the following, using those 32 words?

  • I looked at a car
    An antelope looked at a car
    A gerenuk looked at a car
    A hartebeest looked at the dikdik

Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2017, 09:07:08 PM »
You can certainly reduce the programming languages to just a few words while retaining the expressiveness. It's actually been done: see "One instruction set computer".

Offline Aldebaran

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2017, 09:22:05 AM »
This has been attempted before, and there are several limitations to the approach and remarks I can make.

1. Humans are great at learning vocabulary, so there is in a cognitive sense little need to do this. Yes, it takes some time to learn words so there may be a shortcut allowed by this approach, but only if it really results in a fully expressive language. Does it? Can it?

2. A combination of limited morphemes can work in a minimally expressive language. The go-to example of Toki Pona, which is a minimal language (around 120 morphemes, admittedly more than yours) that does not attempt to replace spoken languages in expressiveness but rather offers an alternative form of expression-- that's the point.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toki_Pona
http://tokipona.net/

3. Another relevant experiment is Simple English:
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
The idea is that by using only around 800 words, English learners will more easily be able to communicate, use Wikipedia, etc. The idea is interesting and actually somewhat effective. But what is the result? The Wikipedia experiment has shown something very important: instead of just learning 800 words, a Simple English user must actually memorize many more collocations as well, phrases with two or more words, to substitute for the other beyond-800 words found in English. There are simply more than 800 ideas in English that are not easily built up from simple parts. Even if you could in theory only talk about things using circumlocutions, users would want direct and consistent ways to refer to specific concepts. An example from Toki Pona is "crazy water" used to refer to alcohol. So in reality that's another new word in Toki Pona (along with many others, and similarly so for many scientific and other terms in Simple English), which must be memorized, and in the end very little is "saved" by having few morphemes, because in fact those idiomatic collocations are themselves necessarily new morphemes even though they are build from recognizable parts. It's like saying that English "greenhouse" is really just two morphemes stuck together rather than adding a new word/morpheme to the language-- an illusion at best, and more realistically just a delusion of whoever is counting. In the end, if the language you made is practical at all, it's just a matter of time and use until there are dozens and then hundreds and then thousands of collocations like that. Give it even more time and sound change will take over, and you'll end up with unrecognizable derivations, just like in natural languages.

4. While many general ideas can be broken down into a small number of parts, there is simply no way to get to more specific concepts like "tree" or "squirrel" or "sing" (without adding idiomatic collocations). An example of how this works out, and very similar to what you have designed, is NSM, which attempts to find the "universal" basic meanings from all human languages:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_semantic_metalanguage
The proposals range from around 11 to over 70. It's important to read carefully what the proposals really are, however. They are not attempting to reduce all vocabulary to these primes. Instead, they are finding primes within some aspects of existing vocabulary. In other words, yes, this can work (according to that theory) for some vocabulary (or parts of vocabulary), but they do not really attempt to replace words like "tree" or "squirrel" or "sing" with these primes. So the realistic goal of that methodology is not to reduce human language to the fewest possible primes (as you might think first looking at it), but instead to come up with as many primes as possible that are actually found in all languages. Obviously the number of primes should be minimal (completely decomposed to their basic elements-- that's what a prime is, by definition), but the goal isn't to artificially reduce all of them but instead to actually find all of them. There is a lot of overlap with the concepts you mentioned above and those proposals, so you might want to look into them. There are also many critiques and criticisms of that approach, so you can look into that side of things too. One issue is that languages do not really seem to consistently use the primes on the surface in the structure of words. So if there is any truth to that analysis, it's not because it's transparently how words are derived, so it wouldn't line up with your proposal in a literal sense.

5. More generally, the idea of having few morphemes building up many meanings in a language is called Oligosynthesis, coined by Benjamin Whorf around 1928. It's confusingly not the opposite of polysynthesis (combining many morphemes into a single word) but actually (possibly) correlated with it (using few morphemes total to make up all words, presumably sometimes via polysynthesis).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligosynthetic_language
Whorf pursued the idea of Oligosynthesis for a couple years just as he was getting into Linguistics and before his formal study of the subject, really just a brief moment in his career. After he got involved in serious study of linguistics, he moved on, and it doesn't seem that anyone else has taken up the idea very seriously. He originally proposed that some indigenous languages of Mexico had oligosynthetic structure because it seemed that just a few basic roots occurred over and over again, although that analysis does not seem to have been widely accepted. Really, the idea seems to have been more or less forgotten (or consciously ignored) in linguistics research.
However, I recently did some research on the topic, with one crucial difference: I wasn't claiming that languages as a whole are truly oligosynthetic (there are various reasons that doesn't seem practical) but that some subsystems of languages could be. So rather than looking for languages with a very small dictionary, the question is whether some languages so oligosynthetic tendencies in some areas. In fact, one that I identified is how serial verb constructions (think of "go carry" as "take" and "come carry" as "bring", sort of like compounds but actually still separate words and possibly stacked) can in some languages seem to augment the lexicon. Of course very often they do become lexicalized (and therefore no longer oligosynthetic because they're newly memorized if somewhat transparent morphemes!). But some langauges seem to do very well with productive and systematic usage of just a few verbal roots. So in that sense there are aspects of natural languages that work like that, and similarly the system you propose could function but only as part  of a fully expressive communication system. A completely oligosynthetic language seems inherently limited, or at the very least unlikely to be stable over continued usage.

I've written more about oligosynthesis here by the way:
https://www.quora.com/Why-don%E2%80%99t-natural-oligosynthetic-languages-exist/answer/Daniel-Ross-71
https://www.quora.com/If-you-have-to-invent-a-language-of-20-words-only-What-would-they-be-And-why/answer/Daniel-Ross-71
Also consider:
https://www.quora.com/What-are-examples-of-useful-artificial-languages/answer/Daniel-Ross-71

Alright, first I'd like to thank you for taking the time to answer my post in such an informative and extensive way; it means a lot to me! I'd also like to apologise that it took me myself so long to respond, since until today I was busy.

Now, the main thing I want to say relates to the most significant difference between languages such as Toki Pona and Simple English; one relating to the way collocations function.

In the languages you have mentioned, the collocations are more or less axiomatic to the languages, meaning that simply by knowing "wonder" and "dog", one will not know that "wonder dog" means "horse". This, in a sense, is an additional word to learn in the language.

However, in Truespeak the situation is different. Since all the collocations are derived directly from the basic particles and the way they interact, not only can one extrapolate what a collocation would mean from the particles that construct it, but one could also interpolate collocations of their own, that anyone could understand, from the 32 particles.

This means that instead of saying "wonder dog", one would say "fast, four legged creature", or something along those lines (those words themselves would be constructed by smaller structures). In general, though, animals, plants and places should be expressed using loanwords ("h(o)owrs" or "'h(o)owrs' animal"), since it's easier. This does create the problem of adding morphemes, but keep in mind that a lot (but not too much) in this language is to be derived from context, similarly to Japanese in many cases, not requiring you to learn them given the context.

Another point I wanted to address is that indeed, over time humans would begin to change the words in such a way that this language would become no different that many other languages of our kind. However, in the fictional universe from which this language comes, it was not originally created by or for humans (rather by Godlike beings far more "perfect" than us), and it wasn't really the point of it to begin with.

Tell me what you think, in your time!

Offline Aldebaran

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2017, 09:43:28 AM »
So just to understand how this works, how exactly do you say the following, using those 32 words?

  • I looked at a car
    An antelope looked at a car
    A gerenuk looked at a car
    A hartebeest looked at the dikdik

Mind you, the names of many of these different creatures come from other languages, meaning that loanwords ("dik'd(o)iwk") would usually suffice to describe them. Even so, I took on this challenge and devised the following words:

tsen'kyuwk'gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kLuz'kluk'dzyawrk'thalp'ku'byuuwlmv'thLalsh - Dikdik

Now, yes, it took twelve syllables to describe a Dikdik with Truespeak's limited vocabulary, but bare in mind that context can allow for shorter words to be used instead.

gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kLuz'kluk'dzyawrk'thalp'ku'byuuwlmv'thLalsh - Deer (or other four-legged animal with two horns)

gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kLuz - Four-legged animal

rar - Animal

However, an even better way of saying any of these animals is as follows:

ge're'nuk'guu'gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kLuz (the four-legged animal named "Gerenuk")

dik'di'kuug'gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kLuz (the four-legged animal named "Dikdik")

Et cetera.

As for "car", the description is surprisingly similar to that of a four-legged animal, and goes as follows:

gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kumth'rar

it basically means "four-legged industrial/mechanical creature" ("leg" in all these examples can also be interpreted as "wheel").

Now, the other necessary words are simpler to interpolate:

dhwo(o)lk'znv - Looked at

dhil - I (just one way of saying it, out of the dozens I've found)

A reminder that the final words can be said just one after the other, so-

"dhil dhwo(o)lk'znv gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kumth'rar" (8 syllables)

would mean-

"I looked at a car"
So to conclude, these sentences should be relatively easy to say in Truespeak. Needless to say, there are probably countless other ways (and probably more concise ones) to say these exact sentences.

Offline Aldebaran

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2017, 09:44:11 AM »
You can certainly reduce the programming languages to just a few words while retaining the expressiveness. It's actually been done: see "One instruction set computer".

Sounds interesting! I suppose it is quite alike.

Offline panini

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2017, 10:26:19 AM »
Mind you, the names of many of these different creatures come from other languages, meaning that loanwords ("dik'd(o)iwk") would usually suffice to describe them.
So the claim is not that you have a maximum of 32 words – you can have any number of words in the language – and the claim really comes down to saying that it is possible to express any idea with just those 32 words, but for convenience you can draw on other words (borrowed from other languages). This raises the question whether "A hartebeest looked at the dikdik" could also be classified as an utterance of your language, one that uses a lot of loan words. You have a long expression that translates as "the four-legged animal named "Gerenuk", but why not simply call it "ge're'nuk'"?

Perhaps the answers would be clearer if we knew how to say a few much simpler words: "cat", "dog", "hand", "foot". Not just "what is the final word?", but "how to you reduce the output to the 32 basic words? I can't make any sense of the notation
'00001 - r (English)/e ("egg")/z ("foxes", "pose")/-y ("boil", "mile", "eye", "kind", et cetera)'. Are you trying to also devise a spelling system free of standard phonetic conventions? That is, what is the actual IPA content of your particle 00001?

Offline Daniel

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2017, 07:02:40 PM »
Indeed, as Panini pointed out, you have designed a way to (potentially) analyze everything, but not to easily refer to specific things. Your system is perhaps better for clearly showing your reasoning about certain ideas and to avoid relying on assumptions, but it is entirely inefficient when it comes to simply referring to a category like "tree" or "dog" or "aardvark". Natural languages typically put more emphasis on actually referring to things, and less to being analytical, and it is essentially unimaginable this would actually work for people in real life. The obvious result is that after a minimal amount of usage it would start to develop idioms and then longer words to refer to specific concepts. And it would no longer work as proposed, because that's not how human languages work.

Something you might enjoy reading about is Ithkuil, which is a constructed language proposed for some of the same reasons that might be motivating you:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/12/24/utopian-for-beginners

I think the concept is interesting. However, personally I would actually prefer for all of those grammatical devices to be optional so that we can choose whether to express ourselves clearly or in general terms. That would be a very powerful language, allowing us to express ourselves as we want to, rather than making us be explicit about every detail. Of course your proposal goes farther than that, breaking down all concepts into your few basic words, but Ithkuil is clearly more functional because it does have as many words as needed, but modifies them grammatically to express nuance and so forth.
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Offline Aldebaran

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2017, 04:49:34 AM »
Mind you, the names of many of these different creatures come from other languages, meaning that loanwords ("dik'd(o)iwk") would usually suffice to describe them.
So the claim is not that you have a maximum of 32 words – you can have any number of words in the language – and the claim really comes down to saying that it is possible to express any idea with just those 32 words, but for convenience you can draw on other words (borrowed from other languages). This raises the question whether "A hartebeest looked at the dikdik" could also be classified as an utterance of your language, one that uses a lot of loan words. You have a long expression that translates as "the four-legged animal named "Gerenuk", but why not simply call it "ge're'nuk'"?

Perhaps the answers would be clearer if we knew how to say a few much simpler words: "cat", "dog", "hand", "foot". Not just "what is the final word?", but "how to you reduce the output to the 32 basic words? I can't make any sense of the notation
'00001 - r (English)/e ("egg")/z ("foxes", "pose")/-y ("boil", "mile", "eye", "kind", et cetera)'. Are you trying to also devise a spelling system free of standard phonetic conventions? That is, what is the actual IPA content of your particle 00001?
Well, first, the matter about the Gerenuk is that though we can just say "ge're'nyu(o)k", it would be less clear as to what we mean. If we wanted to ensure that we knew very well what we were talking about, we'd use the longer term. But then, here we get to an interesting aspect of this language: both are valid. One of the things I set out to do when creating this language was offer a way that allowed everyone to talk in a slightly different manner (refered to as their "prose"), to which they would get used and which anyone could understand. Of course, this wouldn't last as a natural language, due to how language works, but the basis is still there. Think of Hebrew, a language that passed a similar process to what Truespeak would pass.

Now regarding the matter of pronunciation, each different particle is pronounced differently depending on its place in a syllable. In the case of 00001, the IPA for the four first levels of sophistication would be: r/e/z/-ɪ.

The spelling system is entirely phonetic, meaning that "fayr" is indeed pronounced like "fire" in English.

Offline Aldebaran

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2017, 04:57:32 AM »
Indeed, as Panini pointed out, you have designed a way to (potentially) analyze everything, but not to easily refer to specific things. Your system is perhaps better for clearly showing your reasoning about certain ideas and to avoid relying on assumptions, but it is entirely inefficient when it comes to simply referring to a category like "tree" or "dog" or "aardvark". Natural languages typically put more emphasis on actually referring to things, and less to being analytical, and it is essentially unimaginable this would actually work for people in real life. The obvious result is that after a minimal amount of usage it would start to develop idioms and then longer words to refer to specific concepts. And it would no longer work as proposed, because that's not how human languages work.

Something you might enjoy reading about is Ithkuil, which is a constructed language proposed for some of the same reasons that might be motivating you:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/12/24/utopian-for-beginners

I think the concept is interesting. However, personally I would actually prefer for all of those grammatical devices to be optional so that we can choose whether to express ourselves clearly or in general terms. That would be a very powerful language, allowing us to express ourselves as we want to, rather than making us be explicit about every detail. Of course your proposal goes farther than that, breaking down all concepts into your few basic words, but Ithkuil is clearly more functional because it does have as many words as needed, but modifies them grammatically to express nuance and so forth.

The thing with the language is that, usually, the specific things should be understood from context rather than it be required to describe them entirely. For example, the sentence "A deer crashed into my car." could be made simpler by saying "An animal crashed into my thing/me.", which would still adequately explain what happened, given that there was some context. Even if there wasn't, and I needed to describe the specific thing, many things can still be referred to with only a few syllables (tree - "pnzh'kemv"; dog - "rarmp'ruun").

As for that other language, I haven't heard of it until now, yet it sounds rather interesting. For certain, it seems more complicated and difficult than Truespeak, and to my personal taste (feel free to disagree), less elegant. No doubt, however, it is both more practical and useful, regardless of the lack of inherent simplicity.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 05:27:00 AM by Aldebaran »

Offline panini

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2017, 12:51:58 PM »
You say that [rar] is “animal”; the only two particles beginning with r are 00001 rezy and 00101 Rhenzhwy. And even then, none of the words you gave for animals contain rar. Your word for “I” (dhil) begins with “dh”, and the only particle that begins with “dh” is 01101 dhiindhwo. So again, we cannot figure out the interpretation of your symbolology.

You say that “each different particle is pronounced differently depending on its place in a syllable”, without telling us how syllables are formed in the language (what are the possible “places” in a syllable?) . You also say that for 00001, “the IPA for the four first levels of sophistication would be: r/e/z/-ɪ”: what are “levels of sophistication”? Does that relate to syllables, or does that mean that there is an additional variable, “sophistication”, and you have to determine how sophisticated a word is to know how to pronounce it?

I suggest that you give an explicit account of how to reduce a couple of simple sentences to your primitives: “I see the dog” and “He bought the knife”. That means providing the phonetic form, giving it an analysis in terms of the 32 elements, plus explaining the rules for assigning level of sophistication and syllabification, not to mention order of elements (if order is distinctive). You mash the particles together without spaces in some cases but use spaces in some instances, which suggests that the 32 elements are actually not words, they are morphemes (which are combined without spaces); and then, the resulting words can also be combined into sentences (by some system of rules, so that dhil dhwo(o)lk'znv gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kumth'rar is how you say “I looked at a car”, rather than dhwo(o)lk'znv dhil gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kumth'rar or gzyawrk'tholk'bwaylsh'kumth'rar dhil dhwo(o)lk'znv). You are using space as an additional higher-order organizing element. You could economize further by adding “:” as a high-order element, so that the first 16 elements could be “bare” and the second 16 could be one of the first 16 preceded by “:”. But you can do that again, by introducing “!” as an element, then you would only need 8 basic elements, and use combinations of these higher-order elements to expand that to 32. As you can guess, 8 becomes 4 becomes 2 with the addition of only two more high-order elements (let’s say “|” and “^”).

Offline Daniel

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Re: So I've created a very functional language with only 32 words,
« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2017, 09:05:32 PM »
Quote
Well, first, the matter about the Gerenuk is that though we can just say "ge're'nyu(o)k", it would be less clear as to what we mean. If we wanted to ensure that we knew very well what we were talking about, we'd use the longer term.
That's a contradiction. The word "gerenuk" is the most efficient way to refer to that animal. It's a name. Names are useful. That's why languages have names. Your alternative is to describe it. So you are making a way for speakers to analyze everything they say, but by setting it up that way, they can never refer directly to something. So instead of saying "dog", they will always have to say "friendly fluffy home animal" or whatever. Imagine if every time we spoke we had to describe things rather than naming them. That's simply not efficient. In one sense, it would be precise, in terms of description, but in terms of reference, it would never be entirely clear what we are talking about.

Languages don't "evolve" in the biological sense, but they definitely do change to fit communicative needs. There's a reason why natural languages don't do this. It isn't efficient or clear. It is interesting philosophically, but that's not the same as effective communication.
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