(From Lognet 90/1)
Lots of stuff to prattle about this issue. First off, I’d like to add something to what JCB says about the Loglan Institute’s (LI’s) trade-secrets and copyright policy: For the information of newcomers, James Cooke Brown invented this language. Other people have worked on it, but the basic conception was his, and its development since has been largely guided and funded and cheerlead-ed by him. Okay. I’m a cartoonist, and I am well aware that it makes economic, political, and moral sense to regard intellectual creations the same way you regard physical ones. That is, when I think up a cartoon and draw it, the physical piece of paper belongs to me, and so do the rights to copy it. The idea is mine, and I can sell it. If somebody uses it without my permission, I can sue. Loglan is the same thing. JCB tells me that he’d much prefer not to exercise his rights in this regard, but allow Loglan into the public domain so everybody could play with it to da’s heart’s content. You can see in this issue's Sau La Sacdonsu, and even more clearly in what he will say about copyrights and trademarks in the next one, that he’s coming as close to that state of affairs as he possibly can... But insofar as Loglan is a money-maker, JCB wants The Institute he created to derive the major financial benefit from it.
Now, the deep reason why there is a problem at all here is that a few years ago some Loglanists got impatient. Work on the language wasn’t progressing fast enough to suit them, and maybe some of them disagreed with various policies. All this happened while I was out of contact, so all this is second-hand, by the way. At any rate, they split off from LI over the issue of putting Loglan in the public domain, which LI refused to do. Now they call themselves Lojbanists, and some of you may have heard of them by that name.
Soon after I assumed this editorship, I was contacted by the leader of the Lojbanists, Bob LeChevalier, and he gave me his input as to the reasons behind the split. I’m in no position to judge the whole thing, because it's been alleged that personal differences were involved at some point. I haven't been told what the personal differences might have been, which leads me to doubt their validity. In any case, the moral argument stands. A person is entitled to dispose of the fruits of his labor. Loglan is one of the fruits of JCB's labor. He, or his designated agent, the LI, is entitled to dispose of said fruits. Nobody else may do so morally without permission. Arguing that JCB/LI isn't doing the correct things with Loglan, or isn't doing them fast enough, is on a par with arguing that the Indians/Africans/Palestinians/Eskimos aren't wisely exploiting the land they occupy, and that, therefore, wiser or whiter people have the right, nay the duty, to kick them the hell out and take over the place for themselves. Not my kind of logic. I don’t know what Loglan will end up developing into, but I enjoy dealing with it, and I’ve found that my input (even back several years ago) is given consideration and attention by LI. And Loglan might end up with some big surprises indeed.
Analogy time: Anybody out there read James Blish’s Cities in Flight? Damned good book, by the way. Anyhow, in one incident there’s an enormous project to build a bridge on Jupiter. It turns out that it’s not a bridge to anywhere, but it does serve as a test for theories about gravity and other weighty matters, and the experiments lead to a technology that can lift whole cities off of Earth and fly them here and there in the Galaxy at several times lightspeed...something that would seem to have little to do with building a bridge on Jupiter. So if you’re thinking of Loglan as just a logical language, or as a language to talk to computers with, maybe you are limiting yourself. Loglan may be the tool with which great strides are made not only in linguistics, but in logic, artificial intelligence, metaphysics, and God knows what else. All this, and it just might end up being an auxiliary language like Esperanto, too. Food for thought.
On to semi-related matters. I have some fascinating phonecons with JCB in the process of getting this newsletter out. One thing that’s always bugged me is those attitudinals. I brought it up to him more or less like this: It seems like an amazing coincidence to me that we need all the VV’s for attitudinals but we don’t need any more than that. Indeed, having thought about it, I realize that there could be a lot more attitudinals. (An attitudinal, now, is a word or phrase that does not affect the truth value of a sentence, but only expresses the speaker’s attitude towards it.) We have ways of saying: Dinner is ready (and I’m glad about it). Dinner is ready (and I think it’s a shame). Dinner is ready (and I don’t care). But we can’t, with the attitudinal set we now have, say Dinner is ready (and I think it’s ridiculous). We also can’t express feelings of revulsion, fear, confusion, etc. So my big idea was to pick a CVV, and define it such that it plus the following predicate or predicate expression would be interpreted as an attitudinal. Well it so happens that something very similar was already in the works! You can read about it in this issue’s Sau La Keugru.
Some nuts-and-bolts stuff: Editors are a clumsy bunch, and it’s always a good idea to remove sharp corners for them whenever you can. Here’s some ways to make my life easier and give me more time to meditate and watch Gunsmoke reruns: Absolute best way to submit articles or letters is in WordStar for IBM-compatibles, on plain old 5.25-inch disks. I can translate from almost any other processor into WordStar with some risk of garbling, but I don’t have the capability to read microdisks yet. And within the submissions, again wherever possible, put Loglan material within your text in boldface and natural language specimens in italics, if you have that option on your word-processor, or in single quotes if you don’t. Thus: The Loglan utterance Lo papre ga cabro means Paper burns (or ‘Paper burns’); or maybe it doesn’t.
A final note: Whenever you write me, or JCB, or RAM, or any of LN’s editorial group a letter that could conceivably be printed or excerpted in Lo Lerci, please indicate explicitly that you give permission for printing or excerpting or both. That way we can be more efficient about actually getting things in print. Believe me, folks, that isn’t easy. —RFM