Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Eh? Challenge

Arrive at a synthetic but human speakable and writable (and perhaps readable) language that is small
  [vote for,

This idea combines two ideas. One is to make a language that has the least amount of big words, techie words, jargon, etc.

In this, it is similar in concept to the idea of xkcd's up-goer-five.

The other idea it combines is to have a language that is more compressed to the point you need not as many words to communicate a concept than other languages do.

In this, it is far away in concept to up-goer-five, because they are in conflict. In languages that have not as many specialised words, you would have to repeat, duplicate or juxtapose a lot more of the simpler words. This is good in that a person who might not have understood a passage peppered with complicated domain-specific language could still stand a chance of understanding the general direction of it, and perhaps in detail. Obviously, adding more smaller simpler words adds more words, which fights against the second requirement, which is to not add words but actually to have as few words as possible.

This might be achievable if we threw out the idea of using English, or (and I believe this may actually not be as fictional as imagined) any other foreign human languages that exist. Obviously it might be worth taking a look at some of those foreign ones to see if they work as starting points, but I doubt they're really worth bothering about otherwise we'd all be using them now.

To sum up, it is about inventing and refining a language that can express present day concepts without cutting out portions of the population who don't spend all day in those concepts, whilst also having good compression by not requiring lengthy verbosity.

(Obviously I've almost certainly violated a lot of these 'rules' already in this idea, but that's okay, we haven't started yet).

Ian Tindale, Apr 30 2017

Toki Pona is a very small language https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toki_Pona
[hippo, May 02 2017]

The Allusionist on Toki Pona https://www.theallu...llusionist/tokipona
What's interesting about a very very small language is that your choice of word-combinations to communicate a concept actually also communicates a lot about you and your values [hippo, May 02 2017]

Doctorate robes https://upload.wiki...R_OF_PHILOSOPHY.jpg
Expensive, impractical, but impressive. [8th of 7, May 06 2017]


       Baked. Newspeak.
8th of 7, Apr 30 2017

       The language would need some precision and high dimensionality to be able to reconstruct the few words chosen in multiple structures so that many different meanings could result from the same pile of words. Linguistic Legos, so to speak. The syntax rules could get pretty complicated as a result, so you'd need a way for them to be as self-evident as possible.   

       Taking full advantage of context would be key as well.   

       Please make sure the words 'bigly,' 'best,' and 'sad' are excluded.
RayfordSteele, Apr 30 2017

       Could also be accomplished by sorting out the words and phrases found exclusively or near so in the specific or generic source material and substituting the word "blather".
FlyingToaster, Apr 30 2017

       baked. wkte. wibni. custard. pastry. HB. boned. anno. bad science. won't work. link. [+]
pashute, Apr 30 2017

       This isn't going to work. If you want to be able to express a certain number of things, then you have a choice between many different, specific words; or a smaller number of words that must be combined verbosely. The best you can do is a sort of root-N approach, with a moderate number of words which must sometimes be combined.   

       It's the same as counting. Until recently, numbers between 0 and 100 were all that mattered to most people, so we pick root-100 (=10) and go for 10 digits as a balance between complexity (base-100: 100 different number names to remember) and verbosity (base 2: 2 different number names to remember, but numbers get big).   

       It's also the same as in spelling. There are something a few hundred distinct sounds we're interested in, and we have root-few-hundred = 26 letters; other languages that aren't as good as English generally come close to this number. The exceptions are Chinese and its brethren, which are just too poorly thought out to be called proper languages anway.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 30 2017

       Well, this is why this is called a challenge, and not an easy.
Ian Tindale, Apr 30 2017

       Linguistic redundancy is there for a reason.
Voice, Apr 30 2017

       If you could talk in two simultaneous tones like those Tibetan tonal singers you could increase language capacity by a semi-dimension.   

       Add some of the sounds that English misses out on, like the clicks and more guttural sounds, and you have an expanded alphabet.   

       Add tonality like some Asian languages and now you have the makings of even more possibility.
RayfordSteele, Apr 30 2017

       No tonality, please! Some would argue that it would force some kind of melody into singing, but the result is a complete mess. However, if it gets rid of rap, I'm all for it
Ling, May 01 2017

       //No tonality, please!//   

       Indeed. There is nothing more disgusting that the deliberate blocking of nasal resonance to effect a 'folk song' sound. It's not funny and its not clever.
bigsleep, May 01 2017

       Ian, thinking on your challenge: isn't social media already doing exactly this? TTYL.
Ling, May 01 2017

       I'm not sure, it (like a lot of things) might have some of one side but not so much of the other.
Ian Tindale, May 01 2017

       I think the point that [Ian] is struggling to make is "it all depends".
MaxwellBuchanan, May 01 2017

       // There is nothing more disgusting that the deliberate blocking of nasal resonance to effect a 'folk song' sound. //   

       <audio recording of cat vomiting at 0325, loudly and closely enough to arouse the hearer from a stupor induced by excessive consumption of inexpensive alcoholic beverages>   

       // It's not funny and its not clever. //   

       That, we do not dispute.
8th of 7, May 01 2017

       See links for an interesting, small, synthetic language which is easy to learn
hippo, May 02 2017

       That's very interesting. Again, I think it succeeds in simplicity - shortness of word, etc, but fails a bit on complexity. For example, the numbers only go up to two, which makes it the perfect language for roadies and sound engineers. It intentionally tries to prevent big numbers.   

       It has similarities to Tok Pisin, which is a language I'm fairly familiar with (but never spoke, as I'm British) when I lived out in Papua New Guinea for several years when I was young. As with that, and also Mandarin, the more complex the concept you need to convey, the more words you end up piling into the signal. Mandarin is superb for that - really elegant little word concept packages that when combined make you think of the thing under scrutiny in a surprising and usually pleasant or sometimes humorous way (the Chinese are very much into puns).   

       I think there needs to be a way of explaining fairly heavy duty subjects to people, in ways that don't require prior investment in learning a lot of the prerequisite words, or you'd end up spending more time learning the necessary words before you can even think of any of the processes or shapes of the subject itself. I suppose that's what we do in school and college.   

       A lot of the big wordiness of technical subjects is highly subject to change - fashion, obsolescence, and a lot of the big wordiness is not subject to change because those things turn out to be actual core concepts that turn up again and again. It'd be nice to recognise and pay tribute to those latter words, but make them shorter.
Ian Tindale, May 02 2017

       //I think there needs to be a way of explaining fairly heavy duty subjects to people, in ways that don't require prior investment in learning// - when I was doing my PhD, I was told that if I couldn't explain the entire PhD in one simple sentence I didn't fully understand myself what I was doing.
hippo, May 02 2017

       //In languages that have not as many specialised words, you would have to repeat, duplicate or juxtapose a lot more of the simpler words.//   

       I seem to remember that, in Turkish, you form superlatives simply by repeating the adjective.
pertinax, May 02 2017

       And in Malay, most plural plural are formed by repeating the noun.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 02 2017

       And in Americanese, you form superlatives by talking louder, waving your hands, and adding '-ly' to the end.
RayfordSteele, May 02 2017

       //and adding '-ly' to the end//   

       You clearly don't know your Americanicalizationalings.
bigsleep, May 02 2017

       On the contrary, I know them hugely.
RayfordSteele, May 02 2017

       [bigs], stop it, you're channeling the spirit of Dubyah Bush ....   

       The welsh language is remarkably compact, consisting as it does of a mere dozen or so words ... "rain", "mud", "grass", "sheep"*, "rugby", "rock", "ambush" and "English bastards" being the principal ones.   

       *Note that there is no linguistic distinction between the word for "herbivorous quadruped" and "desirable sexual partner".
8th of 7, May 02 2017

       One question I ask is whether we should have the rich words for our mental representations such as models or actions, or whether those words should be for what we think is out there in reality.
Ian Tindale, May 02 2017

       There's a language from sci-fi that this reminded me of the other day, but I don't remember what the language is called or what it's from. Can anybody remind me? What I remember is it uses tonality to condense what would be sentences in English into words. It is used by scientists especially. I didn't actually read the book (?) it's from, but I read about it on a webpage somewhere, which I think talked about many languages from sci-fi. I think it noted that this language in particular would be impractical because its SNR would be too low due to the lack of redundancy—any noise would obscure a lot of meaning. I think it was called something like Fastspeak, but a Google search for that didn't turn up anything good.
notexactly, May 02 2017

       We could always use smells like in 'The Android's Dream.'
RayfordSteele, May 02 2017

       Another thing to consider (no, not a lily):   

       In my opinion and experience, one can be put off going into a deep understanding of either a topic or a component of a thing, because the names given to them sound too whiz- bangy and important and sci-fi from another planet that we'd have no hope of understanding.   

       Such formal naming makes it sound important and such, but it also frightens off people who weren't present for the preceding run-up to how it got there. All we see is a big name, often with sharp angular consonants that make it like a trademark, and all this packaging induces reluctance to open it in case we break it, so we consider the thing or concept as a black box with a buzzword name, and never need to go into it. Consequently we assume it is big, powerful, important and probably magic.   

       Decades later, we decide on a whim or necessity to actually get into what the fuck this little mysterious corner was all about, and disappointment ensues - is that all it was? Most of those big names are bigger than the actual mechanism. Most of the sci-fi sounding words are more exciting than the process they label. Most of the stuff in science, maths, engineering and technology are not complex, but the barrage of impressive words is, or are.
Ian Tindale, May 03 2017

       // Most of the sci-fi sounding words are more exciting than the process they label. //   

       Most, but not all. Some things sound dull, but the reality is rather more exciting than necessary or even desirable...
8th of 7, May 03 2017

Ian Tindale, May 03 2017

       "Collateral damage"
8th of 7, May 03 2017

       On the contrary, Euler's formula is both complex and strangely beautiful and wonderful and shockingly confusing and the key to a great many engineering problems.
RayfordSteele, May 03 2017

       //because the names given to them sound too whiz- bangy and important//   

       That problem goes away when you know the very pedestrian Latin or Greek words that the whiz-bangy names are built out of.   

       Counter-intuitively, it follows that the compulsory teaching of Latin and Greek is an important democratising practice, while not teaching them is elitist. It could further be argued, for other reasons, that this teaching is even more democratising when done by a sarcastic and slightly sinister character, resembling Professor Snape with a mortar board.
pertinax, May 06 2017

       Probably still better than Professor X with a mortar bomb, though ...   

       Oh, and professors don't wear mortar boards; only lowly graduates have them. Professors have spectacularly flamboyant caps and robes, in brightly coloured silk and velvet, with fur trim.
8th of 7, May 06 2017

       Euler can't be that complex can it? Just a bunch of bridges.
Ian Tindale, May 06 2017

       Take an irrational number, raise it to an irrational and imaginary number, and get an integer result. I've seen the proof, derived it, and yet I still am flummoxed.
RayfordSteele, May 06 2017

       Chinese has thousands of one or two character words. At first, one word one idea seems different than this, yet it does have similarities. Chairman Mao defined literacy as 3000 character, Quora suggests many know about 4000.   

       Unless I misremember, the Chinese language has been said to reduce flights of imagination because of the concretization of almost everything people say. Mass literalism could be a similar danger here.
beanangel, May 06 2017

       //Take an irrational number, raise it to an irrational and imaginary number, and get an integer result. I've seen the proof, derived it, and yet I still am flummoxed.//   

       In 1d or 2d it can just be a direction. A radian over integer fraction can appear ugly but does cover the cardinals.   

       After all an imaginary number is just a multidimensional number projected into a 1D 'imaginarium'. It's often used by engineers to simplify resonance.
bigsleep, May 06 2017


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