tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Nov 19 09:11:21 2002

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Re: QeD De'wI' ngermey

On Tue, 19 Nov 2002, Nick Nicholas wrote:
> Paul, Paul, Paul. I used to think like you, way back. And in other
> avatars, in other fora --- in Lojban, say, or Esperanto, or when I'm
> lecturing in Historical Linguistics, I still do. But your talk of
> succession and evolution ignores how artificial languages really
> work; and that's dumb.
> The point of a language is not that it live. It is not that it evolve
> naturally. The point of a language is that it do what the language
> community wants it to do. Usually these are the same thing. With
> artificial languages, they are not.

The community?  Or the majority?  I think you're sitting happily in a
conservative majority, blinded to the constant line of people who come in
here with a minority opinion.  This discussion has gone on for decades
now.  And every time, the conservative canon-only majority has never
adequately addressed the issue, they've merely pushed it aside for either
the reason "we don't want it" or "we can't do it".

> The Esperanto community is committed to Esperanto remaining backward
> compatible with the 1887 prescription. And so it always will. Which
> is why Esperanto will never be *allowed* to creolise. But then it
> won't become a real language, you might complain. Well it needn't. It
> needs to remain the Esperanto that the community wants it to be.
> That's what it's there for.

Ooo, but you see, back in 1887, Esperanto was intending to become a real
language.  The European community has long been looking for a way to unite
the countries, because there are so many completely different languages
being used in an area that maintains constant trade.  The EU has made
strides to consolidate on a currency, Esperanto was a century-old attempt
at consolidating on a language that could be used as a common point in a
multi-lingual environment.  Now perhaps you can argue that Klingon never
had and never will have any such lofty goals, but then I would contend
that in fact, Klingon is thus only intended to be a toy language.  If you
don't have a goal, you'll never achieve one.

> Ditto with Lojban and machine parseability. Ditto with Elvish and
> Tolkien's canon. Ditto with Klingon and Okrand's canon. The language
> community here wants to retain compatibility with Okrand's canon; you
> can't tell it not to. If you want to convey novel concepts, you can,

So if I raised a groundswell of support for people who wanted to determine
a line of succession for canon source rights, and the vast majority of
people on the list supported it...  I couldn't do it?  By your own
argument, the language will do what the community wants it to do, so what
if the community decided to change its current tack?

> There is a recognition that we don't know everything there is to know
> about Klingon, and never will (although we know a hell of a lot more
> than we did 5 years ago.) Some Klingonists decided that meant they
> should opt out, because they can never produce canonical Klingon;
> that's what happened to Ken Beesley, for instance. Some stuck around

How many other people is the conservative hardline going to drive away?
You almost sound proud that you weeded out some people with contrary

> Over and above that, your comparison to BASIC is offensive. tlhIngan
> Hol as used here is not a trivial cipher for English, as is clear
> from usage here; it has a history and norms and trends. If Okrand is

Au contrare, you have all but reinforced my point that Klingon is being
used as a cipher for English.  Look at the major "advancements" in
Klingon:  Three plays by Shakespeare transcribed into Klingon.  jatmey is
being produced, yes, but at what rate?  The last issue was THREE YEARS
ago.  The people who regularly speak the language here compose relatively
short social notes; I see few detailed conversations being held in Klingon
itself.  The "advancements" in Klingon you speak of are simply
interpretations of inconsistencies in the printed material, or
extrapolations of the same.  I have to admit, Krankor's desk reference was
fascinating, and I look forward to seeing his column in the next HolQeD,
but even then, his column does little to advance the language so much as
it merely attempts to reaffirm what already is.

> fact, I fully agree that Okrand is standoffish about the language ---
> although he is not uninterested in it, I doubt he thinks about it
> every day. The community has dealt with that;  and if anything, it
> has displayed more resiliance than many an artificial language
> anchored to its creator.

Few other languages have the distinction of having been used in a half
dozen popular movies, four television series, and a fat selection of
novels.  Don't confuse the fandom interest aspect of Klingon with any kind
of inherent linguistic resilience.

> That notwithstanding, the community has abided by Okrand's
> prescription, vigorously. But it's balderash that Klingon is
> stagnant. If you see that, you're not looking in the right places;
> look again (and look back to the 1992 archives).  You are expecting

Yeah, and it happened again when KGT came out.  The language has evolved
-- in several jumps, all corresponding to the publication of a new book or
audio cassette.  This is not evolution, though, these are bulk injections
of fresh material from a single source.

> Klingon could have formed an Academy; other artificial (and natural)
> languages have, and a big reason we haven't (let's be frank here) is
> the albatross of Paramount. But you can't harangue an entire language
> community out of its ideology.

Is it an ideology based on fear or complacency?

> (From what you've been saying, Paul, I'm not sure you're even aware
> of the Friends of Maltz, and why the vocab increments are so
> field-specific. It pays to do one's homework before making these
> kinds of statements. And we didn't *need* a word for 'big toe'? Of
> course we didn't. That's the joke, for Kahless' sake: this kind of
> thing goes a long way to making Klingon what it is.)

Yes, it pays to do one's homework, such as reading my earlier posts where
I discussed the inadequacy of the FoM system.  :)

I'm sorry Nick, I know you're a good guy, and I remember you from the list
way long ago, but this message of yours has really rubbed me the wrong
way.  You tell me I'm dumb for not considering "how real artificial
languages work" but you provide no argument for how they work other than
that all of them seem to be run by people who fear or reject change.  And
given the success enjoyed by artificial languages in the past, one can
only wonder if perhaps this consistent theme is a factor in their relative
failure.  You scold me for not doing my homework, but obviously I have;
the FoM system fails completely should Okrand die or give up, so the idea
that the system is a good way to handle holes found in the language
fails the test of time by sheer definition.  You argue that Klingon is not
just a simple cipher for English, but have provided no examples of where
it has been successfully used for any other purpose.


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