Some principles pertaining to the quasiprescriptive function of jboske

Nick has said to me he wishes I'd put on the wiki certain stuff I've said on jboskexelmri. Here it is, plus some further remarks.

Original text

 

  • 'Quasiprescription'. Jboskepre do not discuss the issue of prescriptiveness — of policing the linguistic behaviour of others. Jboske discussion is focused on increasing our understanding of the existing portions of the language and of extending it into areas where the language is incomplete. There is no hidden agenda of trying to coerce Naturalists into paying attention to jboske's conclusions.

 

  • In jboske we make use of different sorts of arguments, including:
  1. "We need for there to be a way to express X"
  2. "Logic and other guiding principles entail that Y must be a property of Lojban" (where Y is, say, a correspondence between a certain sentence-form and a certain sentence-meaning)
  3. "It is useful for there to be a convenient way to express Z"
    • ka'u, this last point provokes especial complaint from some non-jboskepre, but I'll address it further if anybody spells out the substance of those complaints in discussion below or elsewhere.

 

  • When discussing the meaning of some existing element of the language (such as a cmavo), we should distinguish the following questions (and address them in this order).
  1. What are the relevant sorts of meanings that we need to be able to express?
  2. How do we express them? Are there satisfactory existing means, or would we need experimental cmavo?
  3. Which of the meanings should be attributed to the existing element?
    • Answers to this last question have the force of a mere recommendation, not any sort of official fiat. The answer would generally be arrived at by considering the sufficiently unbroken parts of established usage and of official documentation. IMO, the standard for assessing brokenness varies from case to case. Even a very broken cmavo may well still be sufficiently unbroken, because completely unbroken experimental cmavo can be put in place alongside it, for those who care. On the other hand, even a slightly broken correspondence between syntax and semantics is hard to tolerate, because it compromises the integrity of the entire system of syntax--semantics correspondences.

 
--And

Commentary and discussion (-- add it ad libitum)

 

  • 'Quasiprescription'. Jboskepre do not discuss the issue of prescriptiveness — of policing the linguistic behaviour of others. Jboske discussion is focused on increasing our understanding of the existing portions of the language and of extending it into areas where the language is incomplete. There is no hidden agenda of trying to coerce Naturalists into paying attention to jboske's conclusions.
    • That said, there is an expectation in the community, amongst people that are not necesarily jboskeists but nor committed naturalists, that the current prescription is incomplete, and that it needs to become complete. Such Lojbanists (and I count myself in their number — fundamentalist hardliners) look to the jboskeists for leadership in helping to complete the prescription, and are mightily disappointed with the jboskeist apparent lack of concern with reaching firm, recorded consensus. There is a legitimate concern that the jboskeist enterprise as And describes it and as it has been practiced on the list is ultimately incompatible with the concern of 'completing' the baseline, unless it is somehow 'harnessed' to that end. — Nick, speaking ex cathedra
    • I think you're right about that expectation and the failure of jboske to deliver if unharnessed. Xorxes and I have made some efforts to place records on the wiki. Partly the problem is that Jboske is not working to any official agenda (such as working through the mahoste to clarify each cmavo) and partly the problem is that Jboske has no mandate or mechanism for determining consensus. If LLG or the board were to say "Dear Jboskepre, please inform us of the consensus about the following issues", then maybe that would happen. And
      • That would require that jboskepre desire agreement in good faith. I personally observe that certain jy. do their best to disrupt convergency, not out of honest disagreement, but something more sinister. --xod
      • You ought to say outright what you mean — I really don't know. IMO, convergence will be possible among jboskepre usually — but not always — with the exception of pc. (And where there isn't convergence it would usually be because we're having to decide which is the lesser of two evils, which is more subjective.) --And
    • Naturalists are not the only opponents of the Tinkering Lojbanists (revisionist hardliners). Fundamentalist hardliners are too. I believe Tinkerers do jboske an acute disservice by perpetuating a conflation of the two ventures: jboske, as defined above (in a manner which is entirely compatible with the baseline), and tinkering (discarding the existing baseline for the sake of optimisation - something the rest of the community rightly anathematises.) In dragging tinkering into the Lojbanology page, you do yourself a disservice. Nick, not speaking ex cathedra
    • There is very very little stuff mooted or discussed that is not baseline-conformant, and what little there is is clearly marked as such and not presented as an actual attempt to alter the baseline. The question of how the design could have been done differently is a legitimate domain of enquiry for jboske, as is the related question of whether defects of the baseline constitute outright brokenness in some places. --And

 

  • In jboske we make use of different sorts of arguments, including:
  1. "We need for there to be a way to express X"
  2. "Logic and other guiding principles entail that Y must be a property of Lojban" (where Y is, say, a correspondence between a certain sentence-form and a certain sentence-meaning)
  3. "It is useful for there to be a convenient way to express Z"
    • ka'u, this last point provokes especial complaint from some non-jboskepre, but I'll address it further if anybody spells out the substance of those complaints in discussion below or elsewhere.
      • The objection is simple, and in my opinion legitimate. Jboskeists are notorious for not being heavy users of the language, so their intuition on what is convenient within Lojban are viewed with extreme suspicion. I would add that the jboskeist enterprise is sensibly about logic, and convenience of usage is utterly orthogonal to that; it does not properly belong in the enterprise at all. — Nick
        1. But lojbo saske is more inclusive than logji saske, and at the least includes broader considerations of the language design. Jboske cannot presume to make any contribution to lojyske, though it can consider what contribution lojyske can make to jboske, but jboske can consider one of the fundamental problems of the Loglan project, which is how to create a usably speakable logical language. Issues of usability can't be ignored, because it is in the very nature of usage that it will reflect a cost-benefit analysis weighing up precision (in terms of the match between actual and desired/intended meaning of an utterance) against complexity, cumbersomeness and longwindedness. Even in the case of the narrowly-defined task of debating the meaning of official cmavo, it may often be the case that there are several competing equally baseline-conformant candidates, and these can be chosen among only on the basis of considerations of convenience.
        2. "Jboskeists are notorious for not being heavy users of the language" — the notoriety is undeniable, but strictly speaking it is unwarranted. If you were to rank Lojbanists by how much they use the language, and then pick out those that subscribe to Jboske, I think you'd find no correlation between participation on Jboske and low levels of usage. What gives rise to the notoriety is that jboskepre are conspicuous for talking about Lojban a lot relative to the amount that they use Lojban.
        3. "so their intuition on what is convenient within Lojban are viewed with extreme suspicion" — As an objection to "It is useful for there to be a convenient way to express Z", I am not sure whether the suspicions concern jboskepre's judgements of what is useful or their judgements of what is convenient. Certainly I think that experience in using Lojban is advantageous for judging what is convenient more than for judging what is useful. But at any rate, considerations of what is useful and convenient are not something jboske can ignore. It seems to me that anybody who is suspicious of jboskepre's qualifications for considering such issues is probably basing their suspicions on mere prejudice rather than anything more informed and substantial.

 

  • When discussing the meaning of some existing element of the language (such as a cmavo), we should distinguish the following questions (and address them in this order).
  1. What are the relevant sorts of meanings that we need to be able to express?
  2. How do we express them? Are there satisfactory existing means, or would we need experimental cmavo?
  3. Which of the meanings should be attributed to the existing element?
    • Answers to this last question have the force of a mere recommendation, not any sort of official fiat. The answer would generally be arrived at by considering the sufficiently unbroken parts of established usage and of official documentation. IMO, the standard for assessing brokenness varies from case to case. Even a very broken cmavo may well still be sufficiently unbroken, because completely unbroken experimental cmavo can be put in place alongside it, for those who care. On the other hand, even a slightly broken correspondence between syntax and semantics is hard to tolerate, because it compromises the integrity of the entire system of syntax--semantics correspondences.

 
Those of us like me who value the subjective experience of thinking in Lojban naturally view the insights of naljboka'e as second-rate. Those who value the structural details of Lojban more greatly should have less problem with the advice of outside experts. --xod
Tugni. To me, I want my thinking in Lojban to be thinking in logic. But I accept that to some people, such as you & Michael, Lojban intrinsically has an ineffable essence all of its own, that can be understood only from inhabiting the language. I respect that point of view, even tho I don't share it. --And



The original document is available at http://tiki.lojban.org/tiki/Some+principles+pertaining+to+the+quasiprescriptive+function+of+jboske