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What lessons are to be learned from tp? - Toki Pona Forums

What lessons are to be learned from tp?

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janMato
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What lessons are to be learned from tp?

Postby janMato » Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:18 pm

What lessons are to be learned from tp regarding the creation of easy languages, small (semantic prime) languages, therapeutic depression languages and conlang craft in general?

Easy.
+ Pidgin and creole type grammar really are easier. Small languages should model after them.
+/- Small vocabularies are initially easy, but eventually become a source of difficulty. 125 words is too few to be easy after a few months of use.

Small.
- 125 words may be more words than you need. But removing words is hard if there is a community. Would make a language more minimal, but harder to use.

Depression Language
+ Easy enough that it could be learned by someone who isn't a linguist or polyglot. A depression language should also be a *easy* language. Unless we are just interested in depressed professional linguists.
- Vocabulary isn't all that positive, not clear what the active mechanism was intended to be. A depression language should posit a particular mechanism and choose features for that mechanism.

Philosophy Language
+ Is indeed simple.
- not really very good at expressing Daoist things (little Daoist jargon, seems much worse for explaining hard to explain concepts, not sure why). *
A language for talking about a particular topic should have basic words for that topic.

* I don't think tp was intended for talking about daoism, but that seems to be common expectation.

Anything to add?

aikidave
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Re: What lessons are to be learned from tp?

Postby aikidave » Sun Aug 22, 2010 8:45 pm

Mind expanding
Since words can be used in multiple parts of speech, the reader/writer must juggle different meanings in his mind.
Reading tp text that someone else has written, can be like trying to solve a puzzle.

Clear thinking

Complex sentences must be broken down into a series of single thoughts.
Complex concepts must be likewise broken down into their basic components.

janKipo
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Re: What lessons are to be learned from tp?

Postby janKipo » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:00 pm

I'm not sure tp was meant to teach anything, but since some of the ideas mentioned here a re common among conlangers (and others), if tp teaches anything it is a lagniappe.
Learning any new language is mind expanding; the more different, the better. tp is different a little and is learnable in a short time (mastery, of course, takes a whole lot longer). Virtually any new language forces one to rethink some thought, since the automatic expressions of one's home language do not carry over to the new, even the sentence structure is bound to be a little different. How much this conscious of our thought processes depends upon the how of the language learning. With a newly constructed language there is the possibility -- and the temptation -- to impose our familiar ways of dealing with things upon it. If the language is old and established (natural or constructed) this is nearly impossible and we really have to face the differences. And that can mean a growth in self-awareness.
Zipf's Wall is a problem for any semantic prime language -- expressions get too long for their frequency. tp avoids that by insisting (in theory at least) that every complex is a nonce form to do the job of referring on a particular occasion. Of course, we laze out on this and develop idioms, rather than thinking through the situation each time. But is is useful from time to time, to cut against those idioms and force ourselves back to basics. The theoretical tp is not, presumably, bothered by Zipf, since the new-minted expression will naturally be the shortest that does the trick. Of course, since no tp is used face-to-face, this theory cannot usually be put to the test, since we do not share enough context to use tp effectively but rather have to be overprecise to get our meanings through.

I can't speak to the depression issue, except to note again, that the "bad" words outnumber the "good" ones, which sound more like the language of depressives than one to help cure them.

Old saw: the really important stuff can't be said in any language, so the whole idea of a language for philosophy is a dead end. Even worse, if we did devise a language which made talking ordinary philosophy easier, we would guarantee (rather than be fairly certain) that philosophy would never touch important issues.


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