11 votes

What features would you add to languages?

If you had the option to add new features to your primary language, what would they be? Is there something from a foreign language you'd like to import to your primary language?

A couple examples:

  • A prefix to indicate intensity or degree. BBS/early hacker jargon had terms like "k-rad" to mean 1000x (2^10?) as radical as "rad" without the prefix.
    That Montessori preschool was t-cool but why would they think calling it "Hobbledehoy" was a good idea?
  • Making an indication of how confident you are in an a statement obligate and easy. I hedge all the time because I think it's important to convey, but it's clunky. We do a bit of that non-verbally but that doesn't translate to text, and has the other complications of non-verbal cues.
    It would be nice if there was an established vocabulary to quickly convey things like "experienced first-hand, repeatedly", "99% certain", "I've heard but never looked into", etc. From there it would be nice if this was as required as the gender, in gendered languages.

30 comments

  1. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    I really like the Portuguese language and never wanted lots of improvements. But there are some things that do bother me. In Brazil we have a word that is roughly equivalent to "why" or "because"....

    I really like the Portuguese language and never wanted lots of improvements. But there are some things that do bother me.

    1. In Brazil we have a word that is roughly equivalent to "why" or "because". We write this word in four different ways: "por que", "porquê", "por quê", and "porque" (same pronunciation), each used according to some grammatical criteria that I won't try to explain because I don't understand myself. It is a useless excuse to be pedantic, since the sentences are entirely clear from context already and no one really miss it. I have been writing "porquê" for everything (including publication on a print newspaper, a print magazine, official essays, competitions, etc...) out of spite since I was a kid, and this never caused me any trouble whatsoever. Not even teachers care enough to deduct points because of it.

    2. Like Spanish, Portuguese is extremely gendered. We have genders for chairs, pencils, cars, and toilets. That's ridiculous, and do not contribute to inclusiveness. Up until now all proposals for inclusiveness in Brazilian Portuguese sound horrenduous and absurd. So I'd like for someone to come up with an alternative that manages to address inclusiveness without creating some grammatical aberration.

    7 votes
  2. [8]
    imperialismus
    Link
    In case you're unaware, this is a real feature of some languages called "evidentiality". Somehow, I suspect making it obligatory doesn't actually make communication any clearer in practical terms...

    It would be nice if there was an established vocabulary to quickly convey things like "experienced first-hand, repeatedly", "99% certain", "I've heard but never looked into", etc. From there it would be nice if this was as required as the gender, in gendered languages.

    In case you're unaware, this is a real feature of some languages called "evidentiality". Somehow, I suspect making it obligatory doesn't actually make communication any clearer in practical terms even though it intuitively seems like it would.

    6 votes
    1. [7]
      TemulentTeatotaler
      Link Parent
      Thanks, I hadn't heard of that! I'll have to read up on that a bit. (taken from elsewhere in the thread) Is there research on domain specific(?) languages and cognition? Would a house painter who...

      Thanks, I hadn't heard of that! I'll have to read up on that a bit.

      The degree to which "softer" versions of linguistic determinism exist, in which linguistic features influence but do not determine thought, is still an open topic of research

      (taken from elsewhere in the thread)

      Is there research on domain specific(?) languages and cognition? Would a house painter who worked for 10 years with the guide of a swatch that named 50 shades of grey be better more able to distinguish between those shades than a painter lacking that vocabulary?

      I recall hearing about feral children who had been taught language later than typical. They described memories from before they had language to basically be lacking any sort of color or depth. Or about Greek descriptions of animals being similarly hueless before they started developing taxonomies that would make the color of a snake actually relevant, and wondering if that influenced how they perceived the animal at all.

      It was probably around that time that I heard related Sapir-Whorf/linguistic determinism views. I agree that it should be pretty obvious that this doesn't hold up. You've got deaf children creating their own sign language.

      There does seem like some room for language to cut intentional channel to shape what the path of least resistance is for thoughts or emerging culture, to me at least. Something where you're unable to stop a river from flowing, but you might be able to influence the path it takes.

      I suspect making it obligatory doesn't actually make communication any clearer in practical terms

      You're probably right.

      My original question seems to pit psychology/society against language, so I'm going to follow up with a sub-question about spaces where language is managed (e.g., online forums or video games) to try to explore a space where you could just declare language was immutable/had some other rules applied to it.

      A possibly flawed intuition I had about language is that it is like a living record of what is important or a priority in a culture.

      A culture that cares about familial relations (India?) may have dozens of words for mother's niece's husband of a love-marriage. If an island nation's economy started heavily using "obsidian" you might expect to see successive contractions (ala Huffman coding, from obsidian-->obsid-->ob) and new words that show up in the same paragraph as "obsidian".

      Being able to force a language to have some property might have been a way of smuggling in the question "if you could change cultural values what would you change"-- which when put that way is I guess a less interesting question.

      I don't have any linguistics background (and struggle enough with just English) so I appreciate your insights!

      2 votes
      1. [6]
        imperialismus
        Link Parent
        Color is perhaps the single most well-studied domain when it comes to language's effect on perception! Different languages make different distinctions between basic colors. For instance, Russian...
        • Exemplary

        Is there research on domain specific(?) languages and cognition? Would a house painter who worked for 10 years with the guide of a swatch that named 50 shades of grey be better more able to distinguish between those shades than a painter lacking that vocabulary?

        Color is perhaps the single most well-studied domain when it comes to language's effect on perception! Different languages make different distinctions between basic colors. For instance, Russian has different words for light blue and dark blue, whereas in English they are considered sub-categories of the same color, blue. And it turns out, Russian speakers are quicker to distinguish between light and dark blues than English speakers, but this effect can be blocked if they are asked to perform a verbal task at the same time. Which suggests that color perception is influenced by, but not determined by language. English speakers can still distinguish different blues, they're not just as quick about it. It's also interesting that the effect is blocked when linguistic faculties are already occupied with another task - as if they have to fall back on a common, more universal kind of color perception when the linguistic part of the brain is preoccupied.

        A possibly flawed intuition I had about language is that it is like a living record of what is important or a priority in a culture.

        I think this is sometimes true and sometimes false. For instance, there is the famous case of the German word "Mädchen", which means girl, being neuter gender. This is not because Germans think girls are objects or all girls are non-binary or some such nonsense. It's because all words that end in the suffix -chen are neuter. A historical accident, if you will, rather than some kind of deep-seated cultural imagining of girls as objects or as standing outside the normally accepted gender division. It's possible to interpret things that way but that would be a mistake.

        On the other hand, there's the case of the Australian Aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr, which is the source of our word "kangaroo". In this language, speakers do not refer to objects by the relative terms we know as "left" and "right" (they can make the distinction, as in distinguishing a left hand from a right hand, but would never say that an object is located to their left or their right). Instead, they use cardinal directions. Thus, instead of saying that man walked "to the right of his wife" they might say he was walking "on her east side". I'm much more inclined to believe this is related to an aspect of culture - a culture that greatly values the ability to navigate based on cardinal directions - than in the case of the German "it" girl.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Kenny
          Link Parent
          These were great, easy-to-understand examples. Thanks for taking the time to share. What's your background, if I may ask?

          These were great, easy-to-understand examples. Thanks for taking the time to share. What's your background, if I may ask?

          2 votes
          1. imperialismus
            Link Parent
            I'm sadly not a real linguist, just a long-time language enthusiast. I've had conlanging - constructing fictional languages - as a hobby for many years, and if you want to create a...

            I'm sadly not a real linguist, just a long-time language enthusiast. I've had conlanging - constructing fictional languages - as a hobby for many years, and if you want to create a realistic-looking language, you need to read a lot of linguistics. So I did, but have no formal education in the subject. Also I studied Russian for a bit which is why that example came to mind.

            2 votes
        2. Eric_the_Cerise
          Link Parent
          Hungarian has two different reds and no orange. They mostly see/describe orange as darker yellow, or one of the reds. I lived there 3 years, and I still only halfway understand the difference...

          For instance, Russian has different words for light blue and dark blue

          Hungarian has two different reds and no orange. They mostly see/describe orange as darker yellow, or one of the reds. I lived there 3 years, and I still only halfway understand the difference between the reds.

          2 votes
        3. [2]
          hamstergeddon
          Link Parent
          To be clear, are the speakers of Guugu Yimithirr using actual directions relative to the person? Like if person A is to the right of person B, but A is west of B on compass, would they say that...

          To be clear, are the speakers of Guugu Yimithirr using actual directions relative to the person? Like if person A is to the right of person B, but A is west of B on compass, would they say that persons to their east, or to their west? Hope that makes sense. Basically I'm asking if they're using direction as we'd see on a compass or if they borrow N/S/W/E and treat a person's front as North, rear as South, left as West, east as Right.

          Might be a silly question...

          1 vote
          1. imperialismus
            Link Parent
            The former. If you ask a person to "move a bit to the East" then that is the same direction no matter which way you or the other person is facing. It's a fair bit more complex than that, and I...

            Basically I'm asking if they're using direction as we'd see on a compass or if they borrow N/S/W/E and treat a person's front as North, rear as South, left as West, east as Right.

            The former. If you ask a person to "move a bit to the East" then that is the same direction no matter which way you or the other person is facing. It's a fair bit more complex than that, and I haven't studied the language so I'm far from an expert. But in short, they divide the world into four quadrants roughly corresponding to compass directions, and use those as reference points for spatial discourse. They do also have some relative directional vocabulary, such as "in front of" or "behind", but apparently not "to the left of" or "to the right of". Hand gestures are also commonly applied to reinforce the point.

            You can read a detailed account here but it's written for linguists, not laymen.

            2 votes
  3. [7]
    mat
    (edited )
    Link
    On your first point, I think intensity prefixes are a fairly inelegant solution to a problem which English has already solved. People just need to stop overusing existing intensity modifiers....

    On your first point, I think intensity prefixes are a fairly inelegant solution to a problem which English has already solved. People just need to stop overusing existing intensity modifiers. Awesome should mean "it has inspired awe in me" not "thanks for this cup of tea" (only kidding - when awesome loses it's teeth, English just shifts gear and uses another intensifier)

    There is at least one language which has the second feature (aka certainty modifiers evidentiality, thanks @imperialismus - I remembered that wrong) and it is obligatory and I cannot remember the name of the one I'm thinking of. Pretty sure it's of Polynesian origin but that's a fairly safe bet given the density of different languages in that part of the world. But I'd agree that would be an interesting feature. I'd like to hear certain politicians speak in that version of English...

    However, if I could make a change to English - I would not like to add something, but to remove something. I would like to remove gender. Not words like 'male' or 'female' in their biological sense, you still need to make that distinction - but words like he/her, man/women, guy/gal etc. I would like to see if it's possible to be sexist in a language which doesn't differentiate between men and women other than in explicit discussion of biology/gender. Some have supposed that you can't have sexism without gendered words - Iain Banks talks about this as a feature of Marain which was explicitly designed into the language, and the broader idea that you can't think something if your language doesn't support it is popularly (although technically incorrectly) known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

    4 votes
    1. [3]
      imperialismus
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Well, nobody qualified to have an opinion believes in strong linguistic determinism (by which I mean the scholarly consensus is that it's not a thing). The degree to which "softer" versions of...

      I would like to see if it's possible to be sexist in a language which doesn't differentiate between men and women other than in explicit discussion of biology/gender.

      Well, nobody qualified to have an opinion believes in strong linguistic determinism (by which I mean the scholarly consensus is that it's not a thing). The degree to which "softer" versions of linguistic determinism exist, in which linguistic features influence but do not determine thought, is still an open topic of research. But if there's one thing we know about how language works, it's that people will immediately and easily invent alternatives when certain words are banned or discouraged. Unless you make the further step of altering the underlying culture to remove all reference to the offending concept, removing words will only lead to people inventing alternatives that mean the same thing.

      By the way, lack of gendered pronouns is fairly common cross-linguistically. Many languages do not make a distinction between "he" and "she". But of course those languages still have words for concepts like man and woman, girl and boy, mother and father etc. I don't know any language that doesn't have any gender-related words, which I strongly suspect is because no culture exists that doesn't have a concept of gender. The details vary widely, including how many genders are generally accepted to exist and what norms are expected of each one, but is there any culture that doesn't have a concept of "male", "female" or "third-gender" or whatever at all? I don't know of any.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        mat
        Link Parent
        Sure, and that's why you have to do it this way - by magic. Or in the case of Marain, by design. But obviously magical linguistics and fictional, AI-designed cultures are much easier than messy...

        Sure, and that's why you have to do it this way - by magic. Or in the case of Marain, by design. But obviously magical linguistics and fictional, AI-designed cultures are much easier than messy real life.

        3 votes
        1. imperialismus
          Link Parent
          It's certainly an interesting sci-fi/fantasy premise. I remember I read some fantasy book (I think it was the Crimson Empire series by Alex Marshall) and there were multiple trans characters, but...

          It's certainly an interesting sci-fi/fantasy premise. I remember I read some fantasy book (I think it was the Crimson Empire series by Alex Marshall) and there were multiple trans characters, but it took me like 300 pages to figure out they were trans because it was never explicitly mentioned (the fictional culture in the book just treats trans people as their preferred gender as a matter of course and never questions it). That was like, a whoa moment.

          I just think as a real-life experiment, the result would be a foregone conclusion, even as a thought experiment. It's more interesting to think about when you're allowed to alter the culture as well as the language.

          2 votes
    2. [3]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Of course it is. We're a creative bunch for good and for worse. And removing distinctions altogether would make literature either unscrutable or less stylish, among other things. I don't think...

      I would like to see if it's possible to be sexist in a language which doesn't differentiate between men and women other than in explicit discussion of biology/gender

      Of course it is. We're a creative bunch for good and for worse. And removing distinctions altogether would make literature either unscrutable or less stylish, among other things.

      I don't think reducing expressiveness so drastically would be a good thing. It would marke more sense to expand our gender markers much further, in order to include a broader section of the identity spectrum.

      1. [2]
        mat
        Link Parent
        We don't actually know this. As has been mentioned elsewhere, strong linguistic relativism (which says that language determines thought) is considered not really a thing, but there's quite a bit...

        Of course it is.

        We don't actually know this. As has been mentioned elsewhere, strong linguistic relativism (which says that language determines thought) is considered not really a thing, but there's quite a bit of evidence that weaker relativism (language influences thought) is a thing.

        We can't ever test this in the real world. But the hypothetical becomes interesting when you magically remove gender from language overnight and retroactively. What kind of society develops around a language in which it's not possible to determine someone's gender when talking about them? Do you get gender equality by default? If you simply can't form the sentence "pink is a girl's colour" do colours get gendered? Maybe you can think that pink is a girl's colour but is that sort of concept even thinkable without language? Certainly it looks like some sorts of cognition don't depend on language, but some definitely does.

        removing distinctions altogether would make literature either unscrutable or less stylish, among other things.

        See, I would say that people and their relationships is what is interesting about stories, and not knowing their gender doesn't really change that. Romeo and Juliet is about love, not about a boy and a girl.

        2 votes
        1. mrbig
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Romeo and Juliet is a story that uses those characters and those events to approach the theme of love, among other things. I don't think it is reasonable to separate things like that. They're a...

          See, I would say that people and their relationships is what is interesting about stories, and not knowing their gender doesn't really change that. Romeo and Juliet is about love, not about a boy and a girl

          Romeo and Juliet is a story that uses those characters and those events to approach the theme of love, among other things. I don't think it is reasonable to separate things like that. They're a connected whole. The writer must have the option to specify gender if they so choose. There are certain specificities that come with it. Ultimately, removing gender markers altogether would lead the reader into assuming the norm, much in the same way that when the writer doesn't provide ethnicity clues readers tend to assume that the character is white. The absence of gender markers might provoke the erasure of difference.

          I'd say we need more markers, not less.


          I realize I'm not really engaging you in the terms of a thought experiment, like you propose. Sorry about that. I can only say that I do not share your optimism regarding even a magical retroactive change of language itself.

          2 votes
  4. [5]
    bilbodwyer
    Link
    I think miscommunication occurs most when people are using the same word or phrase to mean two slightly different things. For example: my partner says a good film is a film they enjoyed, but I...

    I think miscommunication occurs most when people are using the same word or phrase to mean two slightly different things. For example: my partner says a good film is a film they enjoyed, but I would say a good film is a good piece of art, regardless of whether I enjoyed it or not.
    I don't know how you would begin to overcome this using a change to language other than rigidly defining what every word and combination thereof means, so that everyone is on the same page. And that is prescriptivism at its worst.
    Perhaps the change I would make would not be to language, but to psychology. Ensuring that everyone is aware that any language is not perfect, exact, or well-defined between relationships or dictionaries. And adding a shortcut to conversations (particularly emotionally charged ones) where people can pause to check in and define their terminology before going down a route of high miscommunication.

    4 votes
    1. petrichor
      Link Parent
      On a similar note, English's particular lack of gradient distinctions between "like" and "love" is a pet peeve of mine. It's extremely difficult - often to the point of comedy - to distinguish...

      On a similar note, English's particular lack of gradient distinctions between "like" and "love" is a pet peeve of mine. It's extremely difficult - often to the point of comedy - to distinguish meaning from either out of context.

      2 votes
  5. [6]
    Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link
    I wish language and grammar rules were more consistent. Language seems to be, above all else, defined by how many exceptions it has in it's own rules and how unintuitive it is. This makes learning...

    I wish language and grammar rules were more consistent. Language seems to be, above all else, defined by how many exceptions it has in it's own rules and how unintuitive it is. This makes learning languages really hard, save for your own because baby and child brains are good at learning.

    I'd also like languages to be more interopable between eachother, given the only reason we can translate much of anything from a foreign language we don't already know with any sort of agency is because of things like Google translate.

    When it comes from borrowing stuff from other languages, I think most of us agree the German trait of fusing words together on a whim would be good.

    Making languages more easily change-able would probably be good. The LGBT community's ability to create dozens of new words into existence to describe all the types of genders they personally fall into outside the Cis-het umbrella seems very useful.

    4 votes
    1. TemulentTeatotaler
      Link Parent
      English certainly is. Oh the lie of 'I' before 'e' except after 'c'... I learned a little bit of Latin and the teacher would rant about how nonsensical English was compared to the order of Latin....

      Language seems to be, above all else, defined by how many exceptions it has in it's own rules and how unintuitive it is.

      English certainly is. Oh the lie of 'I' before 'e' except after 'c'...

      I learned a little bit of Latin and the teacher would rant about how nonsensical English was compared to the order of Latin. I guess a lot of that comes from loan words / having Germanic and Romantic roots.

      For a time when I was in college there was an ongoing nerd fight between Chomsky and the natural language processing community over whether the right approach to understanding language was from some sort of rules-based grammar or the statistical approach. For AI at least, that was clearly won by the statistical approach.

      Making languages more easily change-able would probably be good.

      Would you want this to be restricted to the addition of new words, or should it also be easier to update the meaning of words?

      Some English examples of where changing meanings can be confusing are:

      • "Bimbo" changing from an unintelligent brutish man, to a thoughtless attractive woman.
      • "Artificial" used to have a positive connotation around the time of the industrial revolution.

      On the opposite side of that, I think I've heard that languages like Hebrew are not allowed to be expanded upon, due to the ties to religion/numerology.

      2 votes
    2. Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      This. My only "addition" would be to aggressively weed out the exceptions and require that the standard ruleset be uniformly applicable t/out each language. For a bonus, I would recommend...

      ... more consistent. Language seems to be, above all else, defined by how many exceptions it has in it's own rules and how unintuitive it is.

      This. My only "addition" would be to aggressively weed out the exceptions and require that the standard ruleset be uniformly applicable t/out each language.

      For a bonus, I would recommend Hungarian spelling. It is among the few languages that assign exactly one sound to each letter and vice versa. There are a few exceptions (grrr, see above), but not many. By the time you learn the alphabet, you can pretty much spell any word you hear, and pronounce any word you read.

      Oh, addendum ... the accent/emphasis is also (pretty much) always on the first syllable, further simplifying pronunciation, and coincidentally giving the language a nice lilting sound, vaguely like the Shakespearean iambic pentameter.

      2 votes
    3. mrbig
      Link Parent
      That is because national languages are the result of history, not logic. There's no escaping that. I don't even know if a logical language would be all that jazz. It might be great for science,...

      Language seems to be, above all else, defined by how many exceptions it has in it's own rules and how unintuitive it is

      That is because national languages are the result of history, not logic. There's no escaping that. I don't even know if a logical language would be all that jazz. It might be great for science, but terrible for poetry,

      For something significantly more consistent, look into artificial languages such as Esperanto, Ido, and others.

      2 votes
    4. [2]
      petrichor
      Link Parent
      Could you elaborate on this? I don't know much about German - how does this differ from English adjectives or portmanteaus?

      When it comes from borrowing stuff from other languages, I think most of us agree the German trait of fusing words together on a whim would be good.

      Could you elaborate on this? I don't know much about German - how does this differ from English adjectives or portmanteaus?

      1 vote
      1. Kuromantis
        Link Parent
        Apparently the difference between a compound word and a portmanteau is that compound words keep both of the words while portmanteaus cut one of them short. That being said, there are plenty of the...

        Apparently the difference between a compound word and a portmanteau is that compound words keep both of the words while portmanteaus cut one of them short.

        That being said, there are plenty of the former in English (home-work, eye-lid, rain-bow, rain-shadow, etc.) and the difference in German is that their word fusions are used far more diverse ways. The 2 most famous example would be backpfeifengesicht meaning someone who seems a slap to the face and schadenfreude meaning enjoying someone's suffering.

        1 vote
  6. DMBuce
    Link
    There are markers in Native American languages that accomplish something like this. That's what immediately came to mind from the title, even before reading your post. I'll just quote part of what...

    Making an indication of how confident you are in an a statement obligate and easy. I hedge all the time because I think it's important to convey, but it's clunky. We do a bit of that non-verbally but that doesn't translate to text, and has the other complications of non-verbal cues.
    It would be nice if there was an established vocabulary to quickly convey things like "experienced first-hand, repeatedly", "99% certain", "I've heard but never looked into", etc. From there it would be nice if this was as required as the gender, in gendered languages.

    There are markers in Native American languages that accomplish something like this. That's what immediately came to mind from the title, even before reading your post.

    I'll just quote part of what Lee Hester wrote in Truth and Native American Epistemology, a paper he co-authored, since that's where I heard about it:

    The importance of direct experience and agnosticism concerning belief can be seen in various linguistic elements of the Choctaw language and other Native American languages. In Choctaw there is a marker to indicate when you are passing on second-hand experiences, a hearsay marker. Such markers are common among Native American languages. In Choctaw, for example, the phrase ‘The cat is on the mat’, might be translated, Katosat shukbo binili. If we say Katosat shukbo binili-miha, then we have disclaimed direct observation, we are saying that someone told us. Without the hearsay marker, the assumption is that what we are saying is a part of our experience. But the hearsay marker miha is just the beginning. The are a variety of markers that describe our attitude toward the source of the experience, its reliability, or whether that particular experience is shared. For example, Katosat shukbo binili-hah means something like ‘Don’t we agree that the cat is on the mat?’ Some of the markers can be given rather humourous translations. Katosat shukbo binili-cho has been translated by one linguist as, ‘The cat is on the mat, you idiot’. The cho marker implies that the cat is right in front of you , that you should open up your eyes.

    These markers generally pick out a relationship between the person speaking and the statement, rather than between the statement and the world. In English, a statement asserts a particular picture of the world, in Choctaw you are more nearly relating an experience. It is difficult to assert a ‘truth’ in Choctaw. The closest you can come to an English affirmation of truth in Choctaw is to end your sentence with the word hoke (it is pronounced ho kay). This word is so powerful that it is often followed by an exclamation point in writing or is stressed when speaking. Though it is an affirmation, you would never say Katosat shukbo binili hoke! regardless of how ‘certain’ you were that the cat was on the mat. Hoke is mainly used in cases like Lashpa hoke! Since lashpa means hot, idiomatically the phrase might be translated, ‘It sure is hot!’ Hoke underscores your experience of the world, it does not assert the ‘truth’ of some picture of that world. The closest the marker comes to such an assertion is probably its use in the phrase Chatah sia hoke! This is generally translated, ‘I am Choctaw’ though this would be the meaning even without the affirmation hoke. With the affirmation in place, you might translate it as ‘I am Choctaw and you can’t say otherwise’. It is not only an affirmation, but a defiant one. The question remains, is it asserting a truth about the world, an experience of that world or maybe an attitude toward one or both? Whatever the answer, the most powerful affirmation in the Choctaw language does not assert truth in the way even a relatively ambiguous English sentence does.

    https://webpages.uidaho.edu/~morourke/524-phil/Readings/hester.pdf

    Hopefully the formatting is okay, the PDF did not copy over cleanly.

    4 votes
  7. TemulentTeatotaler
    Link
    In online communication you're able to have much more rigidly defined rules: XKCD-->4chan created r9k where reposts are not permitted, to promote unique conversation. Various games limit the sort...

    My original question seems to pit psychology/society against language, so I'm going to follow up with a sub-question about spaces where language is managed

    In online communication you're able to have much more rigidly defined rules:

    • XKCD-->4chan created r9k where reposts are not permitted, to promote unique conversation.
    • Various games limit the sort of ways you can communicate to a narrowed vocabulary of "emotes".
    • Recently there was some ML-based tool that could detect and censor(?) hate speech/slurs in real-time.

    Assuming you had the ability to pin down or apply programmatic rules to a language that you may have in an online/managed space, would your answer to the original question change?

    Some examples may be:

    • Word vectors are used to occasionally randomly swap out some non-critical words in a sentence to close neighbors. This might promote diversity of vocabulary, or at least provide a shield of plausible deniability for non-native speakers of a language?
      The king suzerain is dead.
    • A quickly abandoned idea I had was a cryptocurrency-esque forum, after hearing an interview on the value "friction" provides. To push back against increasingly sophisticated natural language bots/trolls/super-users dominating a conversation--or just encourage parsimony of speech-- each post|word would require some sort of gated resource.
      Besides serving as a parallel cryptocurrency, the first lexcoin transaction in the ledger would be used to post a comment? Quickly abandoned. Quickly.
    • Expanding on the idea of an AI intermediary between harassing sender and recipient in games: it becomes common to have a personal AI that morphs communication before passing it to you.
      A judge hearing the voice of a defendant hears it in the voice of a 25 y.o. British lady.
      As a child grows up, sentences spoken to them are translated into the most age-appropriate language to understand it.
      A person with PTSD has triggering references removed or the full-context muted.
    2 votes
  8. petrichor
    Link
    Big fan of English. I'd like an extended system of familiarity. The existing system kind of piggybacks off of gender animancy with a certain descent from "he/she" to "they" to "it" - which is nice...

    Big fan of English. I'd like an extended system of familiarity.

    The existing system kind of piggybacks off of gender animancy with a certain descent from "he/she" to "they" to "it" - which is nice in some regards, but fairly inflexible when dealing with the first-or-second person. I feel like English would be able to be much more personal and expressive if there was a way to express familiarity with oneself and one's ideas.

    I suppose some kind of bastardized version of this exists - with options for the first person going from "I" to "one" to "this person" (or something similar), and options for the second person going from "you" to a name to a title.

    2 votes