(From Lognet 94/1)


By Stephen L. Rice

[This will be a somewhat unusual column, mostly an apologia and a walk-through the word-building process.]

Apologia: While I didn’t get a great deal of feedback on the computer terms (I had anticipated a mailslide), the comments I did receive lead me to explain a few things. To begin with, no one can mandate vocabulary. The forms I come up with are intended for those people who want ready-made words. If others devise alternatives which are generally preferred, those alternatives will predominate. So if you’re really annoyed by a proposed word, and I don’t agree with your solution, try writing and speaking Loglan a great deal with your preferred vocabulary and see if you can turn the tide.

Where computer terms are concerned: believe it or not, yes, I do know what the words and acronyms mean (it goes with my pathological fascination with words). One must remember that metaphors are not definitions. I received suggestions for more accurate metaphors and they were more accurate! Also longer. It is true that modulator-demodulator is a fairly accurate description of what a modem is (though I suspect other devices have such a function), but do you realize how many djifoa would be required to translate this metaphor? I would estimate at least six! In my experiments with language-construction, I concluded that anything above three syllables for a common concept was too much.

The only workable proposal I’ve had in this regard was from Bill Gober, who mentioned (I’m not sure he really proposed) borrowing modulate and then using an acronym. This would give us ?MaiFai from ?modhulyfanymodhuli. (Try saying that three times fast!) Alternatively, we could borrow ?modhemu, a move I’m unhappy with, because I’m not sure how international it is. [My Multilingual (Six-Language) Computer Dictionary shows that the word is modem in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.—JCB] Yet on the whole, kotytelfo seems reasonable to me, not just because most people associate modems with telephones, but also for the original reason that telfo is the only transceiver in the primitive vocabulary, not to mention a device which changes the form of incoming and outgoing signals.

Klakyveo (keyboard) was also queried, and klakypae recommended. I would now say that klakypae looks like a reference to the key mechanism itself. Remember that -veo compounds are not necessarily vessels in the liquid-containing sense; a nuzveo (newspaper) is something which contains news, and a keyboard (in the given metaphor) is a key-container.

For virus in the computer-attacking sense I gave fatproga (annoy-program) on the grounds that all viruses annoy, but not all are outright harmful, just the ones that make the news. Roy Bigelow suggests ?srohutproga, which adds another defining element of viruses: they hide in memory. I would propose ?smifat [or -hut-]proga (secret-annoy-program) for those who wish to insist on this feature; I distrust sordi for memory (see below).

The reason I avoid sordi in my words for memory, especially for RAM (not Dr. McIvor, soi crano, but “Random Access Memory”), is that it seems to imply static memory rather than the dynamic sort that RAM is. I could see using ?sropae for storage device, but I prefer the Pathetic Fallacy of pretending that computers think, and that the size of their RAMs is a measurement of how much their “brains” can hold at a given moment. The ultimate decision is left to those who actually use such words frequently; if they prefer sordi complexes to penso/pencai ones, so be it.

Log Bigelow also corrects my word for uninstall (bufrogsea = oppose-program-put) to fanrogsea = opposite-program-put: an annoyingly obvious mistake on my part.

And now, a few words from Bill Gober:

Military Units. Bill was justifiably annoyed by the LOD entry:

bickompi, <bi(l)c(a)+kompi=military-company> (1n) a military company/company of soldiers. 2-Cpx L4 ’75 1.5

The problem is that, on this metaphor, a “military company” could be thought of as a “war firm” (Bill’s analysis) or as a “mercenary group” (mine). In any event, one would expect it to be a commercial enterprise involving the military or its personnel. So Bill decided to investigate the terminology for military units in several European languages. He found the following array of words (they are in the order English, German, French, Spanish, Russian):

squad, Trupp, escouade, escuadra, vzvod

platoon, Zug, peloton, peloto'n, vzvod

company, Kompanie, compagnie, compania, rota

battalion, Bataillon, bataillon, batallo'n, batalyon regiment, Regiment, regiment, regimiento, polk brigade, Brigade, brigade, brigada, brigada

division, Division, division, divisio'n, diviziya corps, Korps, corps, cuerpo, korpus

This suggested the following 8 borrowings: skuadu, plotonu, kompanu, batllionu, reghimentu, brigadu, divzionu, korpu. (Bill notes that while skuadu and plotonu are useful borrowings, they are also a bit ambiguous.) These borrowings would have the same place-structure as sodgru (...is a [group] in larger military group...).

I originally had some problems with these borrowings on the grounds that I don’t think that everyone agrees on military structure. For example, the ancient Roman divisions (as I recall) were legion, cohort, maniple, century. Yet this is actually a good reason for borrowing. If everyone agreed on the nature and makeup of such groups, we would be ahead to create complexes. Those who generally agree on the definition of these groups also generally agree on names for them, so we might as well borrow. Other cultures may likewise import their own terms.

I would add the possibility of slightly more specific versions of sodgru for use by ordinary people:

cmasodgru <cma(lo)+so(l)d(a)+gru(pa) = small-soldier-group> (2n) .. is a platoon/company in military group ... 3-Cpx ’94

grosodgru <gro(da)+so(l)d(a)+gru(pa) = large-soldier-group> (2n) .. is a regiment/brigade in military group ... 3-Cpx ’94

basysodgru <bas(ni)+y+so(l)d(a)+gru(pa) = basic-soldier-group> (2n) .. is a squad in military group ... 3-Cpx ’94

This would leave sodgru with the generic meaning ...is a unit in military group... .

Another possibility Bill mentions is using -ra compounds based on unit size (so that a Roman legion would be a nemora). He acknowledges certain problems; quoting his message:

How precise/grainy is the number? (I’d suggest two significant figures at most, with an average figure for different units that typically carry out comparable tasks.)

Does the number reflect the unit’s full establishment? Typical strength? Current strength? (I can see uses for all three.)

Units in other armies should be described by their sizes, unless inflating/deflating the sizes is useful for comparison with your own army. (Beware wishful thinking and bad intelligence!)

Deflating/inflating the sizes of one’s own units can be useful for counter-intelligence (to confuse the enemy) and for morale purposes: “You heroes in this temara fought like a temora!” (“Yeah. Too bad only a nemara of us heroes survived the battle.”)

There is another possibility: using multiplicative djifoa (?kilsolda for nemora, etc.). This would be less useful for non-metric group sizes.

Fuel. Bill was also bothered by the words for fuel in LOD:

fagtcidi,<fag(ro)+tcidi=fire-food> (2n) a fuel for...

kukcaocti,<kuk(ra)+ca(br)o+cti(fu)=quick-burn-stuff > (2n) a propellant/propellent of composition...

Bill observes that fagtcidi seems fine as a word for fuel, but not as the only one in the dictionary. Kukcaocti makes sense for incendiary, but for propellant, it completely misses the point of propelling or pushing. He then draws on German for possible solutions: Brennstoff (“burn-stuff”), seen in campfires and burning buildings; Treibstoff (“drive-/propel-stuff”), used in vehicles to make them go and in aerosol cans to spray the contents; and Kraftstoff (“power-/energy-stuff”), a completely general term which can describe coal, uranium, deuterium, or antimatter. From these he suggests

caocti, <ca(br)o+cti(fu)=burn-stuff> (2n) a fuel/inflammable material of composition... 2-Cpx ’94

puocti, <pu(ct)o+cti(fu)=push-stuff> (3n) a fuel/propellant of composition...for propelling... 2-Cpx ’94

nejycti, <ne(r)j(i)+y+cti(fu)=energy-stuff> (2n) a fuel/energy-providing material of composition... 2-Cpx ’94

kukcaocti, <kuk(ra)+ca(br)o+cti(fu)=quick-burn-stuff > (2n) an incendiary/rapidly-burning material of composition... 3-Cpx ’94

Next Issue: The long-awaited seasonal vocabulary. Hapci purmao! —SLR