Loglan

Loglan

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Loglan is a constructed language
Constructed language
A planned or constructed language—known colloquially as a conlang—is a language whose phonology, grammar, and/or vocabulary has been consciously devised by an individual or group, instead of having evolved naturally...

 originally designed for linguistic research, particularly for investigating the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis
Sapir–Whorf hypothesis
The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers are able to conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view...

. The language was developed beginning in 1955 by Dr James Cooke Brown
James Cooke Brown
Dr. James Cooke Brown was a sociologist and science fiction author. He is notable for creating the artificial language Loglan and for designing the Parker Brothers board game Careers....

 with the goal of making a language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 so different from natural languages that people learning it would think in a different way if the hypothesis were true. Loglan is the first among, and the main inspiration for, the languages known as logical languages
Engineered language
Engineered languages are constructed languages devised to test or prove some hypotheses about how languages work or might work. There are at least three subcategories, philosophical languages , logical languages , and experimental languages...

, which also includes Lojban
Lojban
See also discussed by Arthur Protin, Bob LeChevalier, Carl Burke, Doug Landauer, Guy Steele, Jack Waugh, Jeff Prothero, Jim Carter, and Robert Chassell, as well as , the concepts which "average English speakers won't recognize" because most of them "have no exact English counterpart".Like most...

 and Ceqli.

Brown founded The Loglan Institute (TLI) to develop the language and other applications of it. He always considered the language an incomplete research project, and although he released many papers about its design, he continued to claim legal restrictions on its use. Because of this, a group of his followers later formed the Logical Language Group to create the language Lojban
Lojban
See also discussed by Arthur Protin, Bob LeChevalier, Carl Burke, Doug Landauer, Guy Steele, Jack Waugh, Jeff Prothero, Jim Carter, and Robert Chassell, as well as , the concepts which "average English speakers won't recognize" because most of them "have no exact English counterpart".Like most...

 along the same principles, but with the intention to make it freely available and encourage its use as a real language.

Supporters of Lojban use the term Loglan as a generic term to refer to both their own language, and Brown's Loglan, referred to as "TLI Loglan" when in need of disambiguation. Although the non-trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

ability of the term Loglan was eventually upheld by the United States Patent and Trademark Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

, many supporters and members of The Loglan Institute find this usage offensive, and reserve Loglan for the TLI version of the language.

Grammar


Brown intended Loglan to be as culturally neutral as possible, and metaphysically parsimonious, which means that obligatory categories are kept to a minimum. An example of an obligatory category in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 is the time-tense of verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

s, as it is impossible to express a finite verb
Finite verb
A finite verb is a verb that is inflected for person and for tense according to the rules and categories of the languages in which it occurs. Finite verbs can form independent clauses, which can stand on their own as complete sentences....

 without also expressing a tense.

Also, Brown intended the language to be totally regular and unambiguous. In particular, phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s that could be confused with each other were to be avoided.

The language’s grammar is based on predicate logic
Predicate logic
In mathematical logic, predicate logic is the generic term for symbolic formal systems like first-order logic, second-order logic, many-sorted logic or infinitary logic. This formal system is distinguished from other systems in that its formulae contain variables which can be quantified...

, which is why it was named Loglan, an abbreviation for "logical language". This has been thought to make it suitable for human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, which led Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

 to mention the language in his science fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, about a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth....

(1966), and as a fully-fledged computer language in The Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast (novel)
The Number of the Beast is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein published in 1980. The first edition featured a cover and interior illustrations by Richard M. Powers...

(1980).

Loglan has no distinction between noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

s and verbs. The predicate
Predicate (grammar)
There are two competing notions of the predicate in theories of grammar. Traditional grammar tends to view a predicate as one of two main parts of a sentence, the other being the subject, which the predicate modifies. The other understanding of predicates is inspired from work in predicate calculus...

 words can serve as verbs, nouns, adjective
Adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

s or adverb
Adverb
An adverb is a part of speech that modifies verbs or any part of speech other than a noun . Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives , clauses, sentences, and other adverbs....

s depending on where they occur in a sentence. Each predicate has its argument structure with places for arguments, which may be variables
Variable (mathematics)
In mathematics, a variable is a value that may change within the scope of a given problem or set of operations. In contrast, a constant is a value that remains unchanged, though often unknown or undetermined. The concepts of constants and variables are fundamental to many areas of mathematics and...

. For example: vedma, "X sells Y to P for price Q". Prefixes allow one to reorder the argument structure of predicates, to emphasize one of the variables by putting it first. For example, to make price the first variable, use ju vedma (with the "little word" ju). Similarly, the sentence can be reordered to speak about seller, ware, or buyer. Modifications for time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

, location
Location (geography)
The terms location and place in geography are used to identify a point or an area on the Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term 'location' generally implies a higher degree of can certainty than "place" which often has an ambiguous boundary relying more on human/social attributes of place identity...

, actor
Actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

, type of action, and others are provided by "little words" which are optional. Predicates can be compounded: a predicate can act as an argument of another predicate, when the former is prefixed by a "little word".
The language is designed so that the patterns of phonemes always parse
Parsing
In computer science and linguistics, parsing, or, more formally, syntactic analysis, is the process of analyzing a text, made of a sequence of tokens , to determine its grammatical structure with respect to a given formal grammar...

 into words uniquely. Even when run together, the words can be separated in only one way. In Loglan, one can directly and precisely say any of the different meanings of the English phrase "a pretty little girls’ school." This feature is so pronounced that people fluent in Loglan say impossible things as a sort of joke
Joke
A joke is a phrase or a paragraph with a humorous twist. It can be in many different forms, such as a question or short story. To achieve this end, jokes may employ irony, sarcasm, word play and other devices...

—a type of humor not supported by the linguistic machinery of other languages. For example, in Loglan it is possible to say that John, a person, is literally a short word.

Loglan has a wide range of words used for expressing emotion
Emotion
Emotion is a complex psychophysiological experience of an individual's state of mind as interacting with biochemical and environmental influences. In humans, emotion fundamentally involves "physiological arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience." Emotion is associated with mood,...

s and attitude
Attitude (psychology)
An attitude is a hypothetical construct that represents an individual's degree of like or dislike for something. Attitudes are generally positive or negative views of a person, place, thing, or event— this is often referred to as the attitude object...

s about what one is saying, but unlike natural languages, these are kept clearly distinct from the actual statements being made. This may be surprising to people who assume that a language based on logic would be computer-like, and devoid of human emotion.

In popular culture


Loglan was mentioned in a couple of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 works: Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

’s well-known books The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, about a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth....

and The Number of the Beast
The Number of the Beast (novel)
The Number of the Beast is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein published in 1980. The first edition featured a cover and interior illustrations by Richard M. Powers...

, and Robert Rimmer
Robert Rimmer
Robert Henry Rimmer was the author of several books, most notably The Harrad Experiment, which was made into a film in 1973....

’s utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

n book Love Me Tomorrow (1978).

Loglan’s inventor, James Cooke Brown, also wrote a utopian science fiction novel The Troika Incident (1970) that uses Loglan phrases but calls the language a different name, "Panlan".

Loglan is used as the official interspecies language in the roleplaying game FTL:2448
FTL:2448
FTL:2448 is a science fiction role playing game, created by Richard Tucholka, and published by Tri Tac Games in 1982, about faster-than-light travel with alien races. In 1985, there was an expanded edition, and in 1990, a two-volume version of the game was released. Book One covered character...

.

See also

  • Artificial language
  • Linguistics
    Linguistics
    Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

  • Lojban
    Lojban
    See also discussed by Arthur Protin, Bob LeChevalier, Carl Burke, Doug Landauer, Guy Steele, Jack Waugh, Jeff Prothero, Jim Carter, and Robert Chassell, as well as , the concepts which "average English speakers won't recognize" because most of them "have no exact English counterpart".Like most...

  • Philosophy of language
    Philosophy of language
    Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. As a topic, the philosophy of language for analytic philosophers is concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language...

  • Sapir–Whorf hypothesis
    Sapir–Whorf hypothesis
    The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers are able to conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view...


External links