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- To: Daniel L. Weinreb <dlw at MIT-AI>
- Subject: LOGLAN
- From: Guy.Steele at CMU-10A
- Date: Thu ,25 Jun 81 11:44:00 EDT
- Cc: bak at MIT-AI, gosper at PARC-MAXC, lisp-forum at MIT-AI
- In-reply-to: Daniel L. Weinreb's message of 25 Jun 81 01:52-EST
Actually, the pronouns in questions are DA, DE, DI, DO, DU;
these are the "definite pronouns". There is a second series
(BA, BE, etc.) which are indefinite (but existentially quantified,
I think). If five aren't enough, I believe one can use subscripts:
DA1, DA2, etc. (which are pronounced DACINE, DACITO, DACITE, ...,
the numbers being NE, TO, TE, ... and CI being a subscript marker,
pronounced SHI (Loglan C = English SH).
The trouble is that these actually carry over from sentence to sentence,
and there seems to be some difficulty with keeping track of the
last five things, let alone the last two, as they slide by. There is
also the question: if one uses a pronoun, does what it refers to get yanked
back to the front of the cache? Even if not, if one uses DA twice in
one sentence one would like it to keep meaning the same thing.
This debate has been raging in LOGLAN circles for a while. Most
languages make use of typed pronouns to help in this: for example,
HE, SHE, and IT all mean roughly the same thing except for their data
type; WE and THEY are similar in function but remind one of who is
included (you and I being especially important compared to them!).
Compare: "He gave it to she and she thanked he for it."
"DA gave DI to DE and DE thanked DA for DI."
(I left out case markers in the English for purposes of comparison.)
The LOGLAN version might have been
"DI gave DA to DE and DE thanked DI for DA."
or any other permutation, depending on the order in which the three
participants were recently mentioned. English lets one do
semantic, not syntactic, matching of pronouns to nouns.
Other things one does in English are abbreviated reference:
"George borrowed his dad's newer yellow car [his dad owns
five cars, and two are yellow]. When he returned the car,
he said a girl in another car had waved to him. He had
followed her, whereupon a man in the car [which car, now?
you know] got out and sprayed whipped cream on his windshield
[of which car???]..."
and invented names:
"George's cousin's dentist knows a man whose dog -- I don't know
its name; let's call it Fred -- bit the milkman. He howled
and kicked Fred so hard..."
(This is a LET.)
Scott Layson knows much more about LOGLAN than I do, if you want gory
details. I believe he can speak it.
If you really want to avoid LET, I suggest a combinator-type language.
That has problems of its own, but no intermediate names.