Questions and Answers
Copyright © September 2009 by Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong
After the inception of the PreBabel site on July 14, 2009, it has caught many people's interest. An in-depth discussion on the PreBabel took place at "conlanger bulletin board." Many great questions and critiques were discussed there. The following is a brief summary of those discussions.
- Day one --- Summary of questions and critiques
- Day two --- Is a universal language possible?
- Day three --- What are the criteria for a universal language?
- Day four --- The history of finding the universal language root word set
- Day five --- The choices of roots for the universal language
- Day six --- Theoretical framework of a universal language
- Day seven --- Test procedure for validating a universal language
- Day eight -- The fuzzy logic and the PreBabel root word set
- Day nine --- Are all natural languages isomorphic among one another?
- Day ten --- PreBabel root word set is invented, not discovered
- Day eleven --- Private Language Thesis (PLT) and the types of language
- Day twelve --- Can any language be without verbs?
- Day thirteen --- The regression encoding procedure (REP) for PreBabel
- Day fourteen --- The attractor theorem and a universal language
- Day fifteen --- The innate meaning of a word token (of PreBabel) vs its semantic meaning
- Day sixteen --- Is English a universal language?
- Day seventeen --- A premise must be testable
- Day eighteen --- The method of handling any chaotic system, such as the system of natural languages
- Day nineteen --- Via PreBabel to learn any second language is to learn two instead of one, then, why do it?
- Day twenty --- A true Emperor cannot be discredited by any disbelieving person
- Day twenty-one --- Is Esperanto a universal language?
- Day twenty-two --- The strategy of constructing a universal language
- Day twenty-three -- Should PreBabel words be intuitive? And, the PreBabel a, b and c.
- Day twenty-four -- Can PreBabel (language x) be learned easier than the language x itself?
Day twenty-five -- About "words and concepts of one language are grouped differently in another language.
- Day twenty-six -- The PreBabel process is as easy as 1, 2 and 3.
- Day twenty-seven -- How and when can PreBabel (Proper) emerge?
- Day twenty-eight -- more about intuitiveness.
- Day twenty-nine -- about memory anchors on learning a language.
- Day thirty -- about tests for PreBabel.
- Day thirty-one -- about PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-two -- the debut of PreBabel (Chinese) at AP Annual Conference 2007 (CollegeBoard).
- Day thirty-three -- traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-four -- the first constructed language, the Lii character set.
- Day thirty-five -- phonological reconstruction vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-six -- more about the construction of the Lii character set.
- Day thirty-seven -- Published works on PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-eight -- more of traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-nine -- PreBabel methodology I -- equivalent transformation.
- Day forty -- Types of conlang and more on traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day forty-one --- PreBabel epistemology: the Occam's razor.
- Day forty-two --- axiomatic domain, theory and system
- Day forty-three --- about Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
- Day forty-four --- About the differences among languages
- Day forty-five --- Reasons being in the dark
- Day forty-six --- about large and complex system
- Day forty-seven --- A constructed linguistic universe (I)
- Day forty-eight -- about China's language policy
- Day forty-nine --- Construced linguistic universe (II)
- Day fifty -- Constructed linguistic universe (III)
- Day fifty-one -- Constructed linguistic universe (IV)
- Day fifty-two -- Constructed linguistic universe (V)
- Day fifty-three -- Constructed linguistic universe (VI)
- Day fifty-four -- Constructed linguistic universe (VII)
- Day fifty-five -- Summary of constructed linguistic universe
- Day fifty-six -- Discovering the PreBabel principle
- Day fifty-seven -- Benefits of PreBabel
- Day fifty-eight -- the PreBabel procedures
- Day fifty-nine -- about Chinese Etymology
- Day sixty -- Can the parts be larger than the whole?
- Day sixty-one -- Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis revisited
- Day sixty-two -- The two step PreBabel procedures
- Day sixty-three -- Can linguistics be justified with math laws?
- Day sixty-four -- About heavily inflecting or agglutinating languages
- Day sixty-five -- Can any theory be based on only two highly atypical examples?
- Day sixty-six -- Can PreBabel encompass the Martian language?
- Day sixty-sevenCan the word Ēj be dissected and decoded with the PreBabel root set?
- Day sixty-eight -- Comparison the PreBabel (Chinese) with some old school ways
- Day sixty-nine -- Comparison (II)
- Day seventy -- Comparison (III)
- Day seventy-one -- Comparison (IV)
- Day seventy-two -- Comparison (V)
- Day seventy-three -- Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis again
- Day seventy-four -- the "center of gravity" for new linguistics
- Day seventy-five -- the reviews and the material facts on PreBabel (Chinese)
- Day seventy-six -- Is PreBabel just an oligosynthetic written Lojban?
- Day seventy-seven -- About the flexibility of language
- Day seventy-eight -- About the universal grammar
- Day seventy-nine -- The "Large Complex System Principle" (LCSP) & the Martian Language Thesis
- Day eighty -- The three tiers of axiomatic system hierarchy
- Day eighty-one -- Universal grammar -- the total freedom
- Day eighty-two -- Spider Web Principle and the Minimum Complexity Theorem
- Day eighty-three -- Life system is the Totality
- Day eighty-four -- SULT is a language continuum
Day eighty-one -- Universal grammar -- the total freedom
[quote="Tienzen"] As soon as we understand the laws and the principles which govern the "life system", we will reach the total understanding of linguistics. Now, the question is that "What does "permanent confinement" mean?" [/quote]
If linguistics roams in the "life system", then the universal grammar of the linguistics must obey the governing law of the life system. But, why is the "permanent confinement" the governing law of life system?
For formal system, it is a "bound" system, bound by the requirement of consistency. No contradiction is allowed. It is a "complete" system, having the characteristics of "completeness".
When a formal system grows in size, it also grows in complexity. At one point, it can no longer prevent the rising of contradictions. It becomes the Godel system which is still a "bound" system, and the consistency is still the norm. But, it cannot avoid contradictions, having the characteristics of "incompleteness".
When the contradictions become the norm, no longer the exceptions, the new system encompasses all possibility. That is, nothing (contradiction or not) can escape from this new system, the life system. This is the permanent confinement.
But, what does this permanent confinement mean? Is there an actual example in the real world?
For any non-radioactive atom, its nucleus is a "bound" system, a formal system, a stable system. When the nucleus grows in size, that bound system becomes to leak, radioactive, and it becomes the Godel system. In both cases, the proton or the neutron in the nucleus are bound particles, not free particles.
On the other hand, no quark can ever come out of neither proton nor neutron. Quarks are permanently confined in those elementary particles. Yet, the dynamics of quarks show that quarks are true free particles, the asymptotic freedom. In fact, the true free particle exists only under the condition of permanent confinement. The absolute vacuum is the strongest permanent confinement. Without a rescue ship, a free floating astronaut will be permanently confined in space.
Thus, the permanent confinement means the "total freedom". The Martian language thesis shows both the permanent confinement and the total freedom. Whatever the Martian language is (infinite possibility means the total freedom), we can always establish the communication with it (no escape means permanent confinement).
Thus, the universal grammar of linguistics has only one rule, the total freedom. Many of you said, "the diversity of the grammar is so great, there is no chance to find the universal grammar." Your saying is, in fact, isomorphic to my conclusion, but in a negative way. It is because of the universal grammar (the total freedom) which allows the diversity of grammar. It is because of this universal grammar which allows the rise of SULT language spectrum.
Now, both Nortaneous' and Systemzwang's questions can be addressed.
Day eighty-two -- Spider Web Principle and the Minimum Complexity Theorem
[quote="Tienzen"] These changes violated all rational linguistic rules.[/quote]
What linguistic rules are you talking about? On whose authorities are those rules valid? Where do you find any such rules?[/quote]
As the universal grammar on linguistics is the "total freedom," I admitted right the way that I shot my foot on the above statement. Yet, an action which does not violate the Federal law can still violate the State or the local laws. Those changes in Chinese word set I mentioned in that previous post do violate two very important principles.
I did introduce the "Spider Web Principle" (see http://www.prebabel.info/pqna002.htm#day18 ). The whereabouts to build a spider web is completely arbitrary (total freedom or total symmetry). However, as soon as the first spider thread is casted, that total symmetry is broken, total freedom no more. In physics, this is called SSB (spontaneous symmetry breaking) which is the foundation for modern physics. Thus, as soon as the first morpheme or the first grammar rule of a language is casted, it enters into a Godel system; consistency becomes the norm and total freedom is no more. That is, every language has its own internal framework regardless of the fact that the universal grammar is about the total freedom. Thus, the universal grammar has two spheres.
- Universal level -- total freedom. Every language can choose its grammar arbitrary with the total freedom.
- Language x level -- as soon as a selection is made, it becomes a "contract" (among its speaking community) with a set of internal framework.
In the case of Chinese word simplification, it can be divided into two parts.
- The simplified word token does not disturb the semantic space. This kind of change breaks no contract.
- The simplified word token does change the semantic space. This kind of change does break the old contract. Of course, breaking an old contract (here and there) happens all the time in all languages. Every such breaking can gain some and loose some. If the total outcome is a gain, it is then a good change.
I did mention another principle -- the minimum complexity theorem. Every system has a minimum complexity which cannot be further reduced. The reduction of the word token complexity could dramatically increase the semantic complexity.
In late 1950s, the Chinese character set was viewed (by every linguist in the world) as the most chaotic system in the world. So, the reduction the complexity of the word token can gain much more in saving people's learning energy than the increased confusion at the semantic level. Under that circumstance, the simplification was a good move.
However, after the discovery of the PreBabel (Chinese), the Chinese traditional character set becomes the easiest written language to learn in the world. That old "gain" calculation is valid no more. With PreBabel (Chinese), an average American 10 year old kid can master 3,000 Chinese written words with 300 hours (classroom and home together) of good study . Yet, simplified system keeps the Chinese system still the most chaotic system in the world.
Every language has its internal consistency. It flies through the mind space of its speakers with ease and elegance. By broken many old contracts (the internal consistency), the simplified Chinese system is like a jet plane with many broken pieces hanging all over. Although it does not crash, it becomes the clumsiest mind space moving machine. This will cause billion years of Chinese youth's life. After 50 years education, the semantic confusion does not reduce but is now reached to a ridiculous point. In many two hour movies, there are, at least, 10 words were wrong semantically in its caption. This happens even in the captions of the government TV, the CCTV. If this kind of thing happens on American TV, the producer, the anchor and many others will be fired immediately. Language has freedom. Yet, freedom and error are different animals. There is no excuse for those obvious errors which are caused "solely" by the dramatic increased complexity on the big mess and the confusions of the homonym and homophone. The Taiwan TV's caption, seemingly, has much less such errors.
Thus, those changes do violate two very important principles.
- The internal consistency of its own language -- the source for the easiness and the elegance of the language.
- The minimum complexity theorem -- the simplified system has dramatically increased the semantic complexity and abandoned the great advantage of the PreBabel (Chinese). That is, the simplified system does not simplify but keeps it the most chaotic system in the world.
Day eighty-three -- Life system is the Totality
Wait, what? Godel's theorem was that there are unprovable statements: neither P nor not-P are true. The theory is still consistent, it's just not all-encompassing, and there are an infinite number of possible axioms (either P or not-P can be accepted) that can be added. So the only difference between a formal system and a Godel system is that, under the formal system, every statement has a truth value.
Incompleteness just means that not every statement has a truth value. [/quote]
Daoist metaphysics? Heh. At least that's what it reminds me of.
Your statement is true.
It takes one year graduate study for truly knowing the Godel theory in Math department. The original proof of that theorem is over 200 pages. That is, it has many different expressions, and it projects into many different fields with many different interpretations. My application of the Godel theorem in linguistics is precisely accurate.
How does that work? It seems to me that the life system only works in areas dominated by relative standards. (There's no absolute scale of beauty, only a relative one, so you need objects of both beauty and non-beauty in order to measure any other object.)[/quote]
Indeed, Taoist metaphysics roams in the life system. But, life system is not Taoism just the same as the Godel theorem is not linguistics. In fact, this whole-part issue was addressed by papabear awhile back.
Again, the relativity is a "feature" of the life system, but life system is not relativity.
"How do the formal and the Godel systems be the subset of the life system?" is a good question and is a big topic. I will just give a hint here. Both formal system and Godel system are bound by the "Complementary principle" (CP) while the life system is bound by the "Mutual Immanence principle" (MIP).
Both uncertainty principle and Einstein's relativity theories are bound by the CP, in the formal system.
CP is a special case for MIP. One can sense this intuitively. Of course, a formal proof can be done with some pages.
In the early 20th century, Russell and many other went banana on the issue of paradoxes. Paradox is the definitely outcome for formal systems. After the Godel theorem, the paradox frenzy quieted down. Yet, in life system, there is no paradox as it is composed of all paradoxes. At Russell's time, the concept of Totality was undefinable in the formal system. The life system is the Totality, with the attributes of Total Freedom and Permanent Confinement, etc..
If you discounted the life system as the Taoist's metaphysics, you have wasted your time reading my post.
Day eighty-four -- SULT is a language continuum
There are problems with those axioms though. It makes sense to describe an inflectional language as more or less inflectional than another inflectional language (compare English, with almost no inflectional affixes, with Latin or Navajo), but your theory says that languages are either inflectional or not, completely disregarding the spectrum of inflectionality (heh) that clearly exists. And some languages are clearly more irregular than others (compare English, with a large number of irregular verbs, with Turkish, which has only one), some languages have more free word order than others (compare Latin with Warlpiri), and so on.
Also, languages like Swahili and Arabic would be 0-tagged for axiom 3, even though they clearly use inflections, because that axiom ignores all forms of inflection besides suffixes.
Let me summarize your questions,
- SULT (Super Unified Linguistic Theory, http://www.prebabel.info/bab014.htm ) uses discrete values (0, 1), not a continuous value
- some languages have more free word order than others
- SULT ignores all forms of inflection besides suffixes
These are simply some misunderstandings.
- I did call it the "language continuum". The (0, 1) is the boundary only. We can work out the value (the frictional value) for a given language under a given axiom.
- SULT does not set any limit on the degree of freedom on the word order which is, in fact, decided by a few axioms (at least 4), not any single one.
All the above can be reached by varying the values of those axioms (from 0 "to" 1).
- Morphosyntactic alignment
- Ergative-Absolutive vs nominative-accusative
- derivation - inflection
- Oligosynthetic vs polysynthetic
- SULT does not set any limitation on the types of inflection.
All the above are okay.
- separable affix
- derivational affix
- inflectional affix
The entire discussion is available at
conlanger bulletin board