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This post is really long-winded and not really related to calculators and programming so maybe it should go in the open topic section, but it's definitely one of "My Projects."

It's been almost a year (Aug 2016) since I've posted anything on Cemetech, since I haven't been doing much calculator stuff. There were a few programming projects in there, most of which have since flopped. Lately I've been busy studying Ithkuil, a notoriously difficult "conlang" (constructed language).

Originally I wrote practically an essay right here, but I'll try to sum it up in some bullet points instead:

  • Ithkuil is a made-up langauge with the goal of being maximally precise, but also still concise (while eliminating lots of ambiguities that arise in natural langauges).
  • Because it needs to pack so much information so densely, Ithkuil has way more consonants and vowels than most languages (and is insanely hard to properly pronounce because of that).
  • I cannot speak Ithkuil anywhere near fluently. No one can, including the creator. I personally think it's possible, but not at all practical with the current implementation.
  • Distinctions that English makes at the lexical (dictionary) level, like "tree" vs. "forest," Ithkuil does with a over two dozen grammatical categories.
  • Words in Ithkuil are made by picking the values for each of these two dozen categories (summarized here; though most words don't need all of them) and then looking up those values in enormous charts that convert those categories into consonants and vowels, which are then fitted together in a predefined formula.
  • Those charts are really irregular and that formula is somewhat redundant and very arbitrary
  • There are certain situations where the distinction between nouns and verbs gets a bit to blurry and sentences can become ambiguous
  • There are some concepts that are extremely difficult to express because of lexical gaps, and as it stands right now the only way for new root words to be added is for the creator to update the website, which is also a bit of a mess


That was a vast oversimplification, but I hope it got the point across. So I see this language, I "learn" it (meaning that, given ten minutes and all those giant charts, I can translate a relatively simple sentence and butcher the pronunciation of it), and I wonder how hard it could possibly be to just, you know, redesign all the charts and the word formula?

It's hard.

But I've done most of it already. And in the process I got rid of most of those icky sounds so now it's actually pronounceable! Yay? I'm hosting it on GitHub so others can contribute.

Oh yeah, I should give y'all some examples (but don't bother trying to pronounce them). "pʰal" means "tree," while "pʰaļ" means "forest." "Eqoec" means "regarding humankind." And "Tram-mļi hhsmařpţuktx" means "On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point." In my new version of Ithkuil (which will not be called Ithkuil), this sentence would be... spends twenty minutes looking up values in charts... "learj twaismuajoktaiex." j is the sound in measure, and x is this sound. (Here's a clip of me pronouncing it; hit ctrl + s to download the file if it doesn't play properly in-browser) Regardless, I think it's an improvement.

Anyway, Kerm and Mateo are constantly encouraging everyone to post whatever they're working on, so this is what I've been up to. Oh, and if anyone knows how to make a nice-looking searchable dictionary page... Rolling Eyes

P.S. I would actually have translated that sentence as "On the contrary, I think it may turn out that there is a gradual end to this mountain range at some point," but that's just me (since the "verb" in this sentence is "being a mountain range," not "trailing off"). It might not seem like much, but it's not clear in Ithkuil or in English whether the "trailing off" applies spatially or temporally (i.e. whether the mountain range ends three miles from here, or it ceases to exist three millennia from now). I'll have to find a way to fix that somehow...

Last-minute edit: I also made part of a Unity game, kinda? I'll post that tomorrow. It's about gravity manipulation, but I don't have any levels so there isn't much to do yet.
Wow, I'm impressed.

I've been trying to learn Lojban for some time, but found Ithkuil just too dense to start into actually *learning*, though I've read some about its philosophy.

If it can be simplified into something with barely 30 consonants, and actually be pronounceable for English speakers, and systematically easier to learn? That would be utterly amazing. I really don't know what else to say.
lirtosiast wrote:
If it can be simplified into something with barely 30 consonants, and actually be pronounceable for English speakers, and systematically easier to learn? That would be utterly amazing. I really don't know what else to say.


The learning curve will still be very steep but it will become easier to memorize (at least for the more common categories). The biggest changes are the phonology and the absence of charts as big as this one. I'm not planning any major changes to the morphology though, which is generally what makes Ithkuil hard to grasp.

lirtosiast wrote:
I've been trying to learn Lojban for some time, but found Ithkuil just too dense to start into actually *learning*, though I've read some about its philosophy.


I started to learn Lojban, but I couldn't stand the use of Lojban words for even parts of speech; while it might be great for talking about Lojban in Lojban, it isn't very beginner-friendly. Ithkuil is a little bit annoying about parts of speech as well, claiming that there are only "formatives" (nouns and verbs) and "adjuncts" (everything else; mostly verb modifiers) even though there are several different types of adjuncts that operate completely differently. "Personal reference adjuncts" (basically pronouns) are in fact more like formatives than the other adjuncts.
I am a proponent of Lojbanists being slightly inaccurate and just calling brivla verbs, sumti nouns, tanru "modified verbs", selma'o "parts of speech" or something. The problem is when people get the wrong idea about how something functions based on the mainstream linguistic meaning. For example, calling a tanru a metaphor is useless, and even the Lojban reference material acknowledges that calling it a modal "is specific to the Loglan Project, and does not agree with the standard uses in either logic or linguistics, but is now too entrenched to change easily."

(not that any better Lojban word exists for the last)
  
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