Kind of realizing I don’t care about …

Kind of realizing I don't care about this blog. It was a neat idea, I was reading about the Indieweb, getting excited, but there's no particular evidence anybody's reading this, and I'm not posting to it anymore… and the “indieweb” seems not to have caught on…

let's consider this a notice that it's going away when I get time to make it go away. Maybe I'll use the domain for something else.


Dipping toes into Lojban.

So I’ve been chatting with a few esperantists in Korea and Japan. Among them is a Lojbanist.  He often posts simple things (pictures and descriptions of meals) in both Esperanto and Lojban (and Japanese).

I’d never been interested in learning Lojban, because it seemed like a language for American “logic” nerds, with unreal ideas of what human thought was really like.  But here was a real person, not an Anglophone (that I knew of), who was into the language on its own merits, and good at it.  And posting about things like apricot sushi.

So I grabbed some Lojban resources, like these:

Lojban Wave Lessons. These date from the long lost social network, Google Wave. Remember Google Wave?  Me neither. In any case these are fairly hardcore and precise. They teach you details.  I got through about Lesson 15 before my brain started getting too full and I didn’t feel like I could usefully continue.

La Karda. An overview that doesn’t try to be 100% complete but is still very detailed.

The Crash Course.  This is a little bit radical, it seems to me, because it starts less from the theory and more towards the practice.  For example, in Lojban as it is defined, there are lots of parenthetical expressions with opening and closing “parenthesis” particles.  Like “lo…ku” with a verb (selbri) between the “lo” and the “ku.”  The “ku” has no function but to close the “lo” expression. (It’s called a “famyma’o” which is pronounced famaMAho”)  In Lojban it is possible to end a phrase or sentence with a huge stack of closing parentheses (like (a (LISP (expression))).  However, there are circumstances under which famyma’o may be omitted, and these circumstances obtain much more often than not.  So the Crash Course doesn’t even teach you about the famyma’o for many lessons, simply putting them in, or putting particles in which obviate them (like “cu”, “shu”) when necessary. That’s how people would actually speak/write Lojban.

Overall I was very surprised by how “human” it all was. You could never mistake it for a natural language, but it was possible to express yourself very “human”ly — the meanings of all the words were in terms of human concepts, not some weird abstractions. And there is this big collection of attitudinal particles, which allow you to modify the plain statements you make to add nuances about your feelings and attitude towards what you’re saying, as if you were adding things like “wow” or “yeah right” or even “smh.”

There’s also a sense of playfully/cleverly building meanings from a toolkit which reminded me of Esperanto kunmetaĵoj.

Anyway, I don’t know if I will be taking it any further than my week-or-two dive into tutorials and lessons.  It acquainted me with it enough to parse out sentences about Japanese meals.  But I don’t know if I want to put tons of work into getting better at it.

BTW, as you might expect with any enterprise, there has been a certain amount of drama. I read this blog post* and was kind of amazed to learn about a person who had made Lojban the most important part of his life and kind of crashed and burned when things didn’t go the way he hoped with it.  (“But it’s a toy!” It’s not a toy to everyone.) That kind of blew my mind.  But then, I thought of how important Esperanto has become in my little world and it didn’t seem quite as strange.

Anyway, that’s my short and shallow but interesting little journey with Lojban.  I’m not currently planning to take it much further but I have a lot more interest in it than I had a few weeks ago.

Still on the list of future things to investigate: Volapük (gotta give that umlaut key a workout), and Lidepla. I have already met a Volapükist on Twitter, and meeting an existing enthusiast/speaker is an important motivator.  And Lidepla is just cool.

*BTW, I was mightily amused to hear him use the word “logjammin'” to describe being a Lojbanist.




ijo ike pi toki pona

toki pona li pona e pilin mi

Toki pona online is good and bad.  It’s really fun when you can talk to someone in the little language and be understood, so much more so if it’s somebody who’s not an English speaker. I had some fun talking about sushi with a Japanese person in Toki Pona the other day.  It was super cool!

jan pi toki pona li pona ala e pilin mi

But where there is toki pona, there are annoying toki pona enthusiasts.  They’re there to correct your grammar, which could be helpful if you don’t understand it well and would like some help getting to know it better.  But they’re not helpful if you just made a typo, or perhaps you know the language perfectly well but just forgot something, so them pointing it out to you doesn’t improve your knowledge of the language, it just points out an inadvertent error.  LIke if someone you don’t even know pointed out a typo in a conversation they were not part of.  “Thanks, but get lost, asshole.  People make typoes.”

jan pi toki pona li ike e pilin mi

But worst of all, you get people who try to “correct” you on matters where they don’t actually know more than you do, or where their “correction” consists of their own personal opinions about the language. Or maybe they’re just douchebags. Members of the toki pona community have been complete dicks to the creator, Sonja Lang, from time to time, in the language’s own forums.  I get the feeling that some members of the community feel like the language is theirs now, in the same way fanboys in nerd culture tend to feel that because they like a thing, they own it.  There was a certain amount of resentment towards the “official toki pona book” when it came out, because of course it wasn’t everything the community wanted it to be, because it was what Sonja wanted it to be.  Which is fine with me, to be honest.  I like the book.  It’s how I learned toki pona.

Anyway, yesterday, to cap off that delightful interaction with the Japanese person about liking sushi, somebody showed up and tried to correct my interlocutor’s toki pona, telling them what they had “really said” — and it was complete bosh.  The “correcter” mistook one word for another, they failed to recognize a completely basic sentence structure, they just screwed it up completely.  So they weren’t even correcting an error, they were incorrecting a non-error.

I’m like “who is this ignorant douchebag?” and look at their profile, and I find out they’ve been a tp enthusiast since the early days, and they’ve published some lessons of their own on the internet, and written software for toki pona.

And I’m sorry, but they were just utterly, stupidly, “this is some basic shit, come on” wrong about an ordinary sentence in the language.

I don’t know if they were drunk, or what. If this wasn’t dead simple and obvious I’d doubt myself and think I’d misunderstood something and obviously this person with all this authority must know something. But it was dead simple and obvious.

I wrote back in English, explaining what the sentence actually meant.  Later on, I thought better of it, deleted the English, and explained in Esperanto. My Japanese interlocutor also speaks Esperanto, so I’ll still be in touch with them about it. And I’m at the very least not going to be doing the annoying thing of trying to have a conversation in Toki Pona, and instead having a conversation quibbling about Toki Pona in English.  Which happens all the goddamn time.

Maybe this person is actually a great, charming, intelligent, well-informed person, who happened to be actually drunk, to the point that they misunderstood a sentence and thought it was a good idea to correct the person who wrote it.  And I’ll find that out and be sad that I talked shit about them. It would be cool if that was the case.

But as it is, it fits into the pattern of Toki Pona People on The Internet Just Being Fucking Annoying.

Which is what drove me to Esperanto.