(From Lognet 91/1)
Loi, Raban! Hello to you, the readers of Lognet. My name is James Smith, I am your new editor. I also wish to welcome Kirk Sattley as the new editor of our sister publication, La Logli (formerly The Loglanist), while I’m about it. Long may your banner wave. Perhaps a little background on me would be in order, so that you readers have an idea who is on this side of the ink and paper.
On the personal side, I am married, have three daughters and six surviving grandchildren (SIDS claimed one, I’m sorry to say) and three cats and three computers which I share with my wife. I have no formal training in languages, other than programming languages, but I do have some very rusty high school French and German. I have also played with Spanish, Norwegian, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Afrikaans, Greek and Latin. When I couldn’t afford more expensive toys, I played with languages as an inexpensive substitute.
I am a computer consultant by profession and languages of the computer sort are a major part of my life. I have had the occasion to use 10 different programming languages, at one time or another in my nearly 20 years in the profession.
I first encountered Loglan in 1960 in the Scientific American article. I read the article with great interest, but didn’t pursue Loglan actively at that time. I also read the 1975 Scientific American ad and encountered a passing reference to Loglan in a work of science fiction by Robert A. Heinlein entitled The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The next occasion in which I encountered Loglan was at the first CONTACT conference in Santa Cruz, California, where I finally met its creator, JCB, in person. CONTACT is a futurist conference where Anthropologists, Science Fiction writers and Artists get together to explore “What If...” scenarios involving the concept of “First Contact with Alien Intelligence”. I’ve purchased the books, back issues of The Loglanist and now the software, along the way. By the way, at the Sixth CONTACT conference (in Phoenix, Arizona) some of those involved in the creation of a Mars-culture scenario elected to make Loglan the official language of the Mars colonies! None of the students in this scenario truly spoke Loglan, but they could see the benefits of such a tool in that situation!
So, in short, what you have here is an editor who is presently learning the language and whose readers are, in many cases, further advanced in the language. If this seems to be an opportunity for you to assist and to offer comments, suggestions and general observations, you are correct. I welcome any and all letters and manuscripts. This newsletter is for your entertainment and edification, so let’s contribute! Longer and/or more scholarly contributions will be forwarded to La Logli, which is a more appropriate forum for such articles, but letters and shorter works, in either English or Loglan, will find a happy home here.
As a matter of practicality, I am on Compuserve Information Services—see addresses on the back cover—and I am running a no-name XT clone which can read 5.25" (360k) or 3.5" (720k) diskettes. My word processors include PC-Write and WordStar 5.0. Obviously, the best manner for your long-suffering editor to receive input is either via electronic mail (CIS) or via diskette, and ASCII format files (or either of the above two word processor formats) would be most welcomed. I am not a typist! I have been in data processing since forever but have never managed to carve out the time needed to become a touch typist. After all, in the “good old days”, that’s what we had the keypunch pool for! As a result, if manuscripts arrive in non-magnetic/non-electronic format I will have to type them in. Hardcopy manuscripts, even handwritten, will be welcomed, but this places you at the mercies of these twinkling fingertips. Consider yourself warned.
Now, on to other matters. Since this language is so very new and so very different from all of the other languages spoken by humans, we have yet to build up a large body of native or translated literature. In fact, we have yet to build up a small body of such. This is where you come in. I may be able to contrive the occasional crossword puzzle, maybe even to translate the simplest text into some form of Loglan, but those of you who have been at this longer than I are welcome to contribute your bits and pieces. I’d like to see this as a kindly place in which to actually begin to use Loglan for everyday activities. Anyone have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies? How about a challenge: Would anyone like to take a swing at translating some of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam into Loglan? [As it happens, one of the quatrains from the Rubaiyat was last issue's nurvia logla, and it's being back-translated into English in this one; see page 16.—JCB] Maybe writing an original song or poem? Take up the gauntlet and show us your stuff! This language may have been spawned in the carefully guarded environment of the laboratory, but we can help it to become the living tool of the human mind. Who knows when we may see the first grafitti in Loglan (not that I’m suggesting such defacing of public property). That would be a rather pointed indicator that the language had indeed been accepted by the masses, wouldn’t it? It would also be very interesting to see when the first Loglan compiler (computer language translator to translate from humanly understandable format to binary, machine understandable format) makes its appearance.
In summation, this is a unique tool for the human mind to use. The human animal seems to have one of the longest periods of all animals in which play is a dominant activity. Other animals seem to stop playing at maturity, we don’t. Stop playing, I mean...I think we achieve maturity. So, with our natural penchant for tool use and for play, let’s make this a fun activity and learn what this tool can do for (and to) us.
Go get ‘em, team!