The Voksigid final report



Originally posted on the Conlang mailing list, July 23, 1992.

Date: 23 Jul 92 09:09:00 EDT
From: "61510::GILSON" <gilson%61510.decnet@cfe1.nrl.navy.mil>
Subject: Final (I think) status report to Conlang group on the Voksigid project



This functions both as the apparent final progress report on the Voksigid project to the conlang group and the apparent final communication to the Voksigid development group, a. k. a. the newlang group. If anyone, either by sending to the Voksigid group as a whole at newlang@buphy.bu.edu, or by emailing to me at brgilson@highlite.gotham.com, evinces an interest in reviving the Voksigid project, the possibility of continuing the effort still exists, but I am pessimistic about the chances.

My observations are that the demise of the effort was not due to any impracticality of implementing the concept that Voksigid represented. I still feel that we might have, if a few non-linguistic happenings had been different, come out with something better than Lojban at the things Lojban is best at, while being easier to learn.

Voksigid went through three phases:

1. In a preliminary organization phase, we eliminated two people whose ideas were so far removed from what the rest oif us had in mind that compromise was clearly impossible. One of them, I feel, could well have contributed a lot of useful ideas, but was so firmly wedded to an a priori vocabulary that we could not hold him. His loss was unfortunate because I think he knew a lot about some aspects of grammar that most of us did not know. The second of those would at least have given us some input from a person whose native language was not English, but it was very clear from early on that there was no compromise that could embrace both him and myself; on one occasion I went so far toward his proposal that it was making me ill to conceive of what was being done, and yet he was accusing me of being unwilling to compromise. With the departure of those two from the group, we were able to come up with some documents to define the language, and at that point it looked as if we were making progress.

2. At that point, we began filling in the details. We developed a vocabulary, fleshed out a few grammatical details, and I thought we'd soon have a language created. Then disaster struck. One of us, who had been the most prolific source of ideas in the first phase (and who, more than I, was the person whose structure as first proposed turned out to be the one that the final Voksigid resembled most closely) had to leave to devote full time to his dissertation. Another changed schools. I myself, for a while, was incommunicado because I lost the ability to receive e-mail at my work computer and needed to establish a new location. That led to phase 3:

3. We got to a point where a proposal would be made, and nobody would respond. It was clear that nothing more was going to happen. This is where we are now. I think we have to give Voksigid a decent burial. The defining documents are still, I assume, to remain on the PLS, and if someone sends a copy of Dave West's final version of the lexicon to the PLS archives, they will have a basis on which to proceed if anyone wants to take the role that Ashby and Clark took to Hogben's Interglossa.

Observations:

Apparently, for an experimental language, the only organization scheme that works is something like what happened in Lojban. One person (in that case, JCB) developed a language, and a group was set up only much later, but the group was much larger than we had, so that dropping out by 1 or 2 or 3 did not leave them so shorthanded that paralysis started whenever two people disagreed. The voting mechanisms I devised worked when we had 5 or 6 people; when we got down to 3 we were lost. They would have worked better if we had the 9 or 10 I'd originally envisioned. Lojban had one unfortunate experience, the split between JCB and lojbab that required them to construct a totally new vocabulary from scratch -- they'd be a year or two further along, I think, if that hadn't happened. But (even though I can't read the language well enough to follow everything that goes on) I think the group works well. I'd hoped that we could do that kind of thing eventually. The only problem is getting to that point. A committee such as we had doesn't seem to work. I'm sorry it doesn't. John Ross and Jim Carter, at least, had useful ideas without which the language, if it had depended on me alone, would never have been as good as the one we were on the threshold of developing. Jim, in particular, even though he has his own creation (guaspi) and is also an active participant in the Lojban group as well, was able to grasp the spirit of Voksigid well enough that his suggestions were frequently right to the point, even though they had to be different from the way guaspi or Lojban would handle the same problem. I wish we had been able to get the same from the one person I mentioned earlier who was the first to get off the boat.

                                                                                Bruce




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Last modified by B. R. Gilson (brg1942@gmail.com) June 20, 2009.


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