(From Lognet 98/1)

So Nu Cnida Po Helba (Six Needed Acts of Helping)

Here are some things that need doing: 1) building up the science vocabulary in LOD, which is now pretty thin; 2) writing an input list, and modifying MacTeach 2 to accept it, for learning Little Words; 3) ditto for learning complexes; 4) ditto for learning place-structures; 5) writing a 2nd input list for MacTeach 1, going from the formation of intermediate utterances to really complicated ones; 6) making all our software run on Windows. (Everything runs now on Macs and DOS.)

Most of these needed acts of helping have been known for some time. Each requires at least one dedicated volunteer, a computer-savvy tiftua (offering-worker) who is willing to make a commitment to TLI to either complete one of these tasks, i.e., meet t’s specifications, or hand t back to us so we can give t to someone else. Moreover, there is a product at the end of each t that we would expect p’s creator to hand over to TLI as an outright gift. We will, believe me, make more or less instant use of p.

Here are some details about each of the six tasks.

1) This job is to make a great batch of scientific words—about 6,600 of them—for LOD, using the Oxford Concise Science Dictionary (which has that many entries) as your guide to their meanings and the L1 borrowing algorithm as your guide to their forms, enriching and improving the latter as you go. What you would be accomplishing is (a) putting the borrowing algorithm to the kind of exhaustive test it has not yet had—which cannot fail to lead to its improvement—and (b) enriching our lexicon in a way that will make it attractive to scientists the world over.

It has long been a dream of mine to turn L into the kind of precise language that would be ideal for writing scientific papers in, papers that would then have indubitable meanings for loglaphone scientists the world over. The most naturally loglaform minds we have on the planet right now are, of course, those of scientists. So let’s invite this huge community of mental workers into our own tiny logical one by laying down this thick lexical carpet for them.

6,600 new words. That’s all I ask, soi crano. (Maybe this is a team task!)

2) Mastering the uses of Little Words (LWs) may well be the best way of learning L grammar. Yet we have never had a program that taught grammar in this potentially very powerful—because it is so efficient in Loglan—new way. Think of it. Once you know the several ways in which PAs are used, the many ways NO is used, the n ways DA is, the m ways in which PREDAs are used, and so on down the very short list of Loglan lexemes, you have covered the whole grammar of L. What is left is learning the allolexes of each lexeme. MacTeach 2 teaches us all the primitive allolexes of Lexeme PREDA. But we have no program for learning the LW lexemes...probably because, in the beginning, I thought LWs were all so ridiculously simple that they didn’t need teaching! Well, I was wrong. They do. For one thing, the fleet of LW lexemes has grown substantially since those innocent days.

Probably this LW-teaching program ought to be done in two parts. Part 1, the didactically prior part, would teach the lexemes and their usages. For this, exactly one standard allolex—say pa for PA—should be used for each lexeme. In Part 2, the program should teach the semantic differences between one allolex of each lexeme and all its others. Thus, teaching the ji/jie/ja and the a/e/o/u/anoi/enoi/onoi/unoi differences would be among the semantic tasks of Part 2.

Challenging? Yes. But the tools to meet it are both very powerful and readily available. The formal grammar behind LIP will be your main tool for Part 1, for it gives all the contexts in which any lexeme may be found. For Part 2, you have LOD, and you will find many opportunities to correct and complete LOD as you go.

3) The teaching of complexes (CPXs) is a very different project. One thing we know is that MacTeach 3 doesn’t do it very well. I’ve gone through both parts of M3 dutifully, and I still can’t recognize the metaphors behind new complexes with anything like the confidence one needs to make the leap from metaphor to meaning. Something’s wrong here. Dr. McIvor and I have long surmised that what is missing from M3, and is probably essential for CPX learning, is what might be called “warm context”. Probably the reason I recognize the bie of durbiesni as meaning edge, and hence the whole metaphor as do-edge-near, and from that make the confident guess that durbiesni means be on the verge of doing... or be about to do..., is because I’ve seen bie, and in my case loved it, in telbie (earth-edge or horizon); and telbie is to me one of the most beautiful, and hence most unforgettable, words in L.

We need to teach ourselves to decipher the metaphors of other CPXs by that same esthetically warm route. If we can do that, make our guesses about metaphors confident every time, then inferring the meanings they suggest should not be hard. Writing such a program could be easy and fun. Consult me. I’ve got lots of ideas about how to proceed.

4) Talking about confidence, how many of us confidently know all the place-structures of the predicates we use? Not many of us. How many of us have to go to LOD every time we want to be absolutely sure? Shamefully large numbers of us. We logli need to be drilled on place-structures until we know, or can confidently infer, them all. That’s what this new program—MacTeach 4?—should do for us. The tiftua who writes it will learn a lot about this misty region of our logical language...may even come to understand it just by dwelling there awhile.

5) Writing a second input list for MacTeach 1, one that starts where the first one stops and goes on from there...finally teaching the formation of really complicated utterances. Why does the present input list stop where it does? Because that’s how far we’d got when it was time to GPA! All three of us who’d worked on the M1 project—Bob, I, and my wife Evy—thought that someone would surely develop longer and more ambitious input for our neat new program just as soon as we published it. That didn’t happen. It needs to happen. It’s easy to learn how to write input for M1. Bob, if you ask him nicely, will teach you how.

(6) Making all our software run on Windows. Bob’s been trying to get somebody to do this for years. My impression is that many have tried but none have succeeded. He may even have a new athlete lined up now, ready to make a new assault on the problem. But surely there is someone out there who knows how to make these transformations from DOS to Windows quickly and easily! If so, speak up, for goodness sake! Our sales to Windows owners are languishing! —Hue Djim Braon