ON LANGUAGE NAMES /// RE: Results of Duplicate Busters Survey #2

Lang Gérard gerard.lang at insee.fr
Tue Sep 9 11:03:35 CEST 2008

Dear John Cowan,

A1-I did not find your reference /languagelog/archives/ particularly productive concerning mutual understanding, but more in the vein of  Georges Bush about Irak opposing Europe's "old civilisation" against US "new civilisation".
A2-More specifically, concerning fact and theory checkers, I am very interested by the theory of limits of formal systems, and you could find a reference with my name in the notes of the site Internet METAMATH of Norman Megill (MIT), that is certainly one of the best (the best for me) logical and mathematical proof checker in the world. So that, it is not always adequate to proceed with such generalisations as your reference seems to do.
A3-About fact checking, I could provide many interesting references on how the NASA lost many money, scientific consideration and a Mars orbiter because they thougt in the SI (Systeme International; metric system) when their contractor, a big US spatial firm, thought in an "old fashioned" anglo-saxon measure system.

B1-We already saw that the concept of "language name" has many acceptions and versions (french, english, romanized, vernacular, original, indigenous, autonym,..), so that "autonym" is one of the possible (and the best for me, when existing) realisation for this concept.
B2-And that the concept of "language" is distinct of the concept of "language name", but that every realisation of a language name refers to an underlying language.

C-I made a proposition to choose "Ainu" for the japanese language name and "Aynu" for the chinese language name.

-----Message d'origine-----
De : John Cowan [mailto:cowan at ccil.org] 
Envoyé : lundi 8 septembre 2008 17:00
À : Lang Gérard
Objet : Re: ON LANGUAGE NAMES /// RE: Results of Duplicate Busters Survey #2

Lang Gérard scripsit:

> I certainly cannot share this point of view.

I suggest that you read
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001482.html , particularly the section on fact checkers and theory checkers.

> Autonyms  [...]  are very certainly much more specific and identifying 
> of the considered language name

I think you must mean "the considered language".  A name does not specify a name.

> (because they are, in particular, the definitive proof for the 
> existence

It is easy to create names without referents.

> The case that two autonyms could be identifiying the same language 
> name, and the same underlying language, is certainly very infrequent 
> and should be considered with many precautions.

That is not the concern here: the concern is that two autonyms could be identical and identifying different languages.

> Are you definitively certain that the native phonetisations of both 
> Ainu variants you consider as two distinct language names are different?

I have no personal knowledge of the case, but the international registrar seems to be quite certain of it.

> If then, maybe the romanization of the chinese version could be 
> changed as not to be identical with the japanese autonym.

Changed by whom, and at what cost to autonomy and self-identification?
As things stand, they are disambiguated by adding a country name in parentheses.

Henry S. Thompson said, / "Syntactic, structural,               John Cowan
Value constraints we / Express on the fly."                 cowan at ccil.org
Simon St. Laurent: "Your / Incomprehensible     http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
Abracadabralike / schemas must die!"

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