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Mumpsimus (n). One who foolishly clings to old and familiar things.

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Dipping toes into Lojban.

4 min read

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.

(fed)

 

Still not blogging. Huh.

...and apparently I'm not blogging anymore?

ijo ike pi toki pona

5 min read

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.

(fed)

UPDATE: He explained himself further. It's not that he misunderstood the basic sentence (though he did misread some words), it's that he has a very specific theory about how toki pona verbs are supposed to work, and my usage contradicted his theory. (He pointed me to a thread in the official toki pona forums where he laid out his theory as authoritative.) I showed him that the way I was using the language (the obvious way) was in fact the same way that Sonja used it in the official Toki Pona book, and he said Sonja was wrong.

Yes, that is exactly the sort of thing I hate about toki pona people on the internet.

 

The Banana Boat Song in Toki Pona

3 min read

Text

suno o! tenpo suno o!
 suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo
suno o! tenpo suno o!
 suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo mi

o pali lon pimeja tan telo wawa
  (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)
o pana e kili tawa kama suno!
  (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)

jan nanpa o kama o nanpa e kili mi
 (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)
jan nanpa o kama o nanpa e kili mi
 (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)

o suli mute e kulupu kili!
 (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)
o suli mute e kulupu kili!
 (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)

kili mute li pona li pona lukin
 (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)
li jo e pipi pi pana moli!
 (suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo)

suno o! tenpo suno o!
 suno kama la mi wile tawa tomo mi!
suno o! tenpo suno o!
 suno kama la mi wile tawa tomooooooooo

- jan Ali Pelaponte

Literal Translation

O sun! O day!
When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house
O sun! O day!
When the sun comes, I wish to go to my house

Work in the dark because of powerful liquid 
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)
Place the fruit towards the coming of the sun!
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)

Number person, come! Number my fruit!
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)
Number person, come! Number my fruit!
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)

O make very large the pile of fruit!
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)
O make very large the pile of fruit!
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)

The group of fruits is good and good to look at
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)
It has a death-giving insect!
(When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house)

O sun! O day!
When the sun comes, I wish to go to the house
O sun! O day!
When the sun comes, I wish to go to my hoooooouse

Notes

The third verse, about Mr. Tally-Man, (jan nanpa) is actually the one that inspired me to do the translation in the first place. It's virtually a word-for-word translation

I do love the fact that Harry Belafonte's name is so euphonious in Toki Pona, as jan Ali Pelaponte.

Source

I assume everybody already knows the Banana Boat song, but if you haven't heard it before, well, maybe watch Harry sing it on the Muppet Show!

Update

Made some changes in the text, to simplify and shorten.  Would like this to be actually singable.

Oh no, splitting blogging

2 min read

Another blog engine that interests me is write.as. They run their own software called Write Feely.  (open source.) They're 100% writing-focused; no image hosting is built in. The writing environment is beautifully minimalist & distraction-free. I've started using it to do a blog in Esperanto called "Ho, mia blog'" (title is an inside joke for Esperantists). It's basically a Livejournal, where I post personal, work-out-your-feelings type stuff, that I want to put out there but not really publicly. So it's out there, but in a format which very few people who know me can read.

Remember livejournals? That's a kind of writing that doesn't exist so much on the internet anymore. It was a time when the internet itself was a minor veil of obscurity, because not everyone was on there, and things were not (or at least were not known to be) exhaustively surveilled and monetized by sinister tech giants with Sauron eyes. So people would go on there and write like it was a journal, like they were writing for themselves, but they would be quasi-public in that your friends could read it and *theoretically* so could anybody else but why would they?  It's not like it was being "re-blogged" widely or anything.

I wasn't really a livejournaler but I was familiar enough with it to remember what it was like and to realize that it's not a thing that's really done anymore.

Oh, re: writefreely, I tried self-hosting a writefreely instance but I hit some errors and couldn't figure out what was going on and so forgot about it and ended up continuing with this nifty known software. Which is also minimalist and beautiful and easy to use.

Another neat thing about writefreely and write.as - they're both plugged into the Fediverse so people on Maston can subscribe to your blog!

RIP Jan-Michael Vincent, star of the most 80s show ever.

1 min read

Playing the Airwolf theme in his honor.  (Though not too much honor. I understand he was not exactly a good dude in the days after airwolf. Sounds like he was a dangerous addict whose life fell apart.)

(fed)

The known twitter plugin - finally configured.

1 min read

Well, I think I've got the Known twitter plugin working.  To get it done I had to go make myself a developer account on twitter, which involved a lot of form-filling-out, and a painful discovery that their interface for signing up didn't actually work on mobile Safari, because stupid interface stuff.  It's unfortunate it's so hard to interface with twitter through open source applications, but it is. Hopefully I can make this post automatically tweet itself...  

(also...)

No, Bernie. Just no.

ghost

1 min read

Looking around at other interesting blog software, hey, ghost.io is supposed to be prety slick, I'll try an install --

 

added 822 packages from 623 contributors and audited 11527 packages in 184.096s

found 3 moderate severity vulnerabilities

 

Jesus christ, Node.  It's just a goodamned blog