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Epistemology and Conlangs: Identifying differences in naturalistic unnaturalistic, and concrete-abstract and abstract-concrete languages

Proposition:

Note: Words that may be controversial or subjective are defined for this particular theory below; all of them are underlined within this proposition. Examples are given for the more complex concepts.

Hidden words in the definitions section: Object, Concept.

If differences can be identified between abstract and concrete languages, by creating a abstract and concrete languages, and these differences provide data that could be used to clarify the magnitude of assimilation and briskness of these languages, then this data could be used to create a scale on which languages could be placed between briskness and assimilation.


 

Definitions:

Concept: A concept is an intangible idea that cannot be perceived by the senses but is rather inside one’s body and mind. However these are often expressed through metaphors in organic languages; these metaphors vary between cultures.

Object: An object is a tangible thing that can be perceived by the senses, it is considered outside of one’s body and mind.

Abstract Language: A language which uses no metaphors and only requires the use of instructions to describe any particular object/concept.

e.g. A computer language does not tell another computer using the same language that one object in a certain situation is like a concept. Rather a computer language provides specific instructions that must be followed in order to produce said object/concept.

Concrete Language: A language which uses metaphors to describe concepts and objects.

e.g. English or any other organic language, usually uses metaphors to describe more complex concepts like guilt, love, fear, or embarrassment to others using the same language, rather than using instructions like a computer that would tell the other entity how to construct that object/concept. However, from what I know, no computer yet knows how to construct emotions.

Data: In this case, data is the differences between concrete and abstract languages which I have explained above.

Clarify: This word, as anyone reading this post would think, is very sketchy. What I mean here is that, with the data I aim to identify the differences between concrete and abstract languages, and by creating my own concrete and abstract languages, make more accurate assumptions about where those differences would be placed upon the briskness and assimilation scale. The following three terms will be defined below.

Briskness of A Language: The briskness of a language is the speed at which it can be communicated. This of course sacrifices the magnitude of assimilation which I will describe below.

Assimilation of Ideas: The assimilation of ideas can be described as the actual similarity of ideas that are communicated between two entities. When increasing this factor, briskness is sacrificed.

And Finally …

The Scale: A scale will be created with varying details that will be measured from 1-10, then based on which values are entered for each detail each language will be place in-between briskness and assimilation on a scale form 1-10.


 

Experiment:

 

Concrete Language:

Phonology:

Vowels:OO(oh)AA(ah) UU(oo)EyE(ey)EeI(ee)

Consonants: KK(k)ThTh(th)S1S(s)

Connector (there are no spaces): Ee(not used as a vowel, used as a connector.)

Betabet:

UOAEyThS1EeK

Grammar:

Ee The connector must be in-between each word. In addition each sentence starts with Sa Thé See which is  A modified by S1which makes Sa, then Ey modified by Th to make Thé, and finally Eemodified by S1which makes See. The meaning of the beginning phrase is, “the great energy created”. All sentences start with Sa Thé See and form chains, as Sa Thé See is always followed by a pronoun or object. This originates from the Gitaxian’s belief in the great energy. The chains can spiral, or travel in random directions, but can only be read one way. If read any other way, the sentence will be misinterpreted. Meaning that the paper can only be in one rotation in order to receive the correct information from the chain. The connectorEe is modified by S1 for past tense, K for present tense, and finally Th for future tense.

Any noun that is surrounded by a circle becomes plural.

Examples of Phrases:

“The great energy who created Su So Sey creates a circle”

Note: in english, there is a dangling participle, however in this language the subject performing creates is “Su So Sey.” The subject preforming created is the “great energy.”

ES

How to pronounce:”Sa Tey See Soo So Sey Kee Key So Tey Kee Oo O”

If you want to create a language, I think Zompist will help.

Possible Errors:

As mentioned in the grammar section, the chain can only be understood correctly from one angle/rotation.

If you’re really interested, here is the culture derivation:

Gitaxians, a race that loves circles and trigonometry:

The Gitaxians realized the potential of trigonometry and circles in architecture. Much like their architecture, their alphabet consists of circles and waves, completed with a line through each circle or wave depending on whether it is vowel or consonant. The Gitaxians shun those who use squares in their architecture, considering the square inferior to the circle. In fact, all their architecture is spherical or wavy, not even cylindrical, avoiding even a straight line up when building against gravity. The way their language is spoken works much the same way; there are always valleys followed by hills in tone. Due to their sophisticated architecture and strict banishment of the square, the Gitaxians are famed for their efficient vehicles and architecture, often using less material than square builders. However, the one weakness of Gitaxians, is the poisonous hydric acid, they believe that no planet can survive if there is a large percentage of it upon any planet. Contrary to the Gitaxians’ belief, earthlings survive on planet earth despite its massive content of H2O.

(I created this using STO‘s character creator; this is owned by STO and should not be distributed)

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 7.39.37 AM

A Gitaxian

Abstract Language:

System:

States:

KEeS1

 

Description

K/K: Acts as on

Ee/Ee: Acts as off:

S1/S: Acts as indeterminate

With these three symbols several instructions can be formed based on: on, off and an indeterminate switch.

Code:

Similar to binary, however, when there is an indeterminate switch, the value is non-existent. Because the value does not exist, it therefore allows the code to create errors and continue. If there is an error, all values associated with the error whether on or off are switched to indeterminate and no longer read during the compiling process. This allows the program to continue working despite errors, however it also means that the code could easily malfunction. This makes the code more adaptable, but far more difficult to fix.

Examples of Operations:

EeKKKEeEeKCompiles to produce: 114

EeKKKKKKKKKKKProduces an error: therefore replace all values with S1, the rest of the code will still produce 114.

Possible Errors:

The indeterminate switch easily causes the program to malfunction without the user knowing of the malfunction. However, occasionally malfunctions lead to break throughs and allow the program to continue working despite the errors.


 

Results and Scale:

To a computer a series of switches still produce something no matter how many characters are used. Additionally, a computer can read billions of on and off switches in mere seconds as if child’s play. For us however, it takes years; the computer uses the on and off switches as instructions to preform certain operations, therefore constructing a concept/object. When we read a language or speak it; this clearly takes far less time then reading on and off switches. We also receive information at a greater speed, however, it often sacrifices the details of certain concepts or objects. You could argue that we do not need to know all the details, however, if ideas were communicated at this speed and with this precision, we would probably share more of the same ideas. However, doing so often sacrifices diversity in ideas, as if ideas were communicated the same way over and over again less creativity would be sparked. That is why I added the indeterminate switch, in order to see if errors would spark any creativity; theoretically it could lead to break-throughs.

Scale2

This is the scale I derived based on the concrete language I created which was based on a spontaneously created culture; I also based it on the abstract language which was based off of the concrete language. Enough bases, now to the details, I placed Binary closer to assimilation, as the code will have more similarities as it is transferred in comparison to Gitaxian Binary. However, note that Gitaxian Binary is far more brisk than Binary as all errors are ignored and switched to indeterminate. Gitaxian and English are a different story, Gitaxian is far less brisk than english, do to the chains and few consonants in comparison to English. However, English is far more brisk, due to its ability to be read quickly, larger variety of consents, and greater vocabulary (I cannot create nearly as many words in less than an hour!). Briskness seems to be closely related to the number of sounds in the languages phonology. Comparing Gitaxian to English reveals that Gitaxian is far more difficult to speak due to its less diverse set of sounds, while English is communicated quickly. However, I am not a native speaker of Gitaxian and this could be why my reading speed is so greatly reduced. Comparing Binary and Gitaxian Binary again, the number of states in which a variable can be greatly affects a language briskness and assimilation. E.g. due to Gitaxian Binary’s three states it is far faster than Binary, however Binary has greater assimilation due to its fewer variable states. Additionally, because English can be read from multiple angles it has a greater briskness, but its assimilation is lesser as now the idea may be interpreted incorrectly. Briskness is increased because, now the page now longer has to be oriented at a certain angle, however there still is an optimal angle at which English can be read.

Summary of what data I have acquired from the experiment:

  • More states for a variable in a abstract language results in greater briskness but lesser assimilation
  • More consonants for a phonology in a concrete language results in greater briskness, no affect on assimilation
  • More orientations from which a language can be read results in lesser assimilation and greater briskness

 

 

5 Responses to Epistemology and Conlangs: Identifying differences in naturalistic unnaturalistic, and concrete-abstract and abstract-concrete languages

  1. Jess says:

    This made me think of two things actually. One: Circular gallifreyan, which is here: http://timeturners.wikidot.com/circular-gallifreyan and the other are blissymbols, which aren’t all available online, but which you can learn about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blissymbols

    Otherwise I think this is super cool, and you should keep us updated!

     
    • Vincent says:

      Cool, both links are very interesting, however it doesn’t seem like Gallifreyan has a unique phonology (not that mine is any more unique, I use all the vowels in English except pronounced differently), still cool though. Thank you for commenting.

       
  2. Avery C says:

    Something I especially liked about this post is the (new to me) concepts of briskness and assimilation in regards to language. You present this as a scale, where each language occupies a place determined by, I presume, the mean/average terms and grammar of its language. One question, though: where on the scale would you personally classify as a “perfect” (or as close as possible) language? Do you favour briskness, assimilation, or an equal balance?

     
    • Vincent says:

      Like many extremes, they are impossible to determine, however, if we were to choose the closest thing to briskness possible based on estimation, I would assume telepathy. Telepathy would assume the most briskness possible, and many would say assimilation as well. However, depending on how telepathy functions this could change. For e.g. if telepathy received all conversations around you, your own conversation may be drowned at and crowded. Additionally, your own thoughts may cloud your mind therefore decreasing the assimilation in ideas, however greatly increasing the speed at which it is communicated. Perfect assimilation would assume slow but completely accurate communication, meaning that the ideas that are transferred between two entities are exactly the same and there is no variation between them. This is not yet exist, however it could occur through two computers at a greater speed than between two humans. As programming languages and code can be transferred and exchanged between two computers, this would mean that if a programming language could store infinite amounts of data to describe basic concepts like adding. The way that the data would be described would be completely the same. There would be no differences at all, no other factors affecting the data and therefore I would assume complete assimilation.

       
    • Vincent says:

      A perfect language would not lie in either briskness or assimilation; a perfect language would not require the user to learn it in the first place. For some universal language as such to exist there would have to be more internal routes for the language, perhaps in your Genome even. If certain proteins allowed you to immediately understand a particular language, I would say that that language would be more perfect than any language that aims to suite a certain portion of the population based on how descriptive (assimilation) or how fast it is communicate (briskness). Anyway, the comment I posted earlier was completely superfluous (use that word too much, therefore s/superfluous/pointless/stop_using_superfluous). I completely (s/completely/totally/get_a_vocabulary) misunderstood what your comment said (I need sleep), hopefully this one was more insightful.

       

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