Idea for conlang pronoun system, partly inspired by Lojban

In Lojban you can declare pronouns that consistently refer back to nominals. This idea is very similar, but attempts to make the same concept slightly more naturalistic – a hybrid or “compromise” between logical and naturalistic. Most of the vocabulary in the examples given below is very European-derived, and if I took the concept further I might replace it.

Idea

With the exception of the inclusive first-person plural which is a combination of two other pronouns, pronouns take the pattern (C)V(n) where (n) is the optional letter n and, when used, signifies the plural.

In the first person there is a singular, inclusive plural, and exclusive plural: ti, tinren, and tin, respectively.

In the second person there is a singular and a plural: re and ren, respectively.

The generic third person pronoun is i, which also has singular and plural forms: i and in.

However, pronouns can also be declared with the particle let:

Let he Johano este viro. He amra katon.
(John is a man. He loves cats.)

Let xi Maria este fema. Xi amra katon.
(Maria is a woman. Xi loves cats.)

Let li Zamenhofo este mediko. Li amra katon.
(Zamenhof is a doctor. Li loves cats.)

Let lu Jepeseno este lingiso. Lu amra katon.
(Jespersen is a linguist. Lu loves cats.)

Let ri Kori este nobinari. Ri amra katon.
(Cory is nonbinary. Ri loves cats.)

Here he, xi, li, lu, and ri are assigned to the respective individuals: Johano, Maria, Zamenhofo, Jepeseno, Kori, and then the sentences as a whole are evaluated with the referent of the newly declared pronoun as the subject.

It might even be possible to extend this even further to non-pronouns, for example:

let Viki kato xel ti
(Viki = my cat)

let konlingo lingo wat homo akjo
(konlingo = language that a human makes)

Languages, Text Parsers, and Video Games

Raye Chell Mahela

I can speak English and Esperanto. I’ve started learning a handful of other languages, though I tend to have a hard time sticking with one. Oddly, sticking with Esperanto is easy, perhaps because I already have communities I’m part of, and uses for it, while with other languages – say, Korean – I really only get to use it at the nearby Korean grocery store.

But, I’ve decided to start learning Chinese. I decided that a couple of weeks ago, but so far I haven’t done much studying yet, just skimming pieces here and there. Do I start with reading on grammar? Do I start by studying Pinyin? Do I start by learning the building blocks of the writing system? Hm.

I’m a bit restless when it comes to sticking with a single textbook, and I want to start using the language as soon as I can, so then – do I memorize phrases and investigate how words are put together?

I began compiling a list of the verbs, nouns, and adjectives I find myself using the most in Esperanto. It’s hard to really quantify what English I use in my day-to-day life because it’s so engrained, but that’s one of the good things about being familiar with Esperanto – I have more of an explicit idea of what I’ve learned over the past three years, so it could perhaps be a blueprint of what I would need to learn for another language.

Building this list of words and common ways I end up combining them actually reminds me of writing a text parser for a text adventure (or something like the old King’s Quest games).  Actually – wouldn’t it be kind of fun to learn some basics of language through mixing and matching verbs and nouns together to interact with a virtual environment? (OK, maybe it appeals to me because I grew up with Sierra adventures…)

Though a problem with this method of “learning the patterns and extrapolating from there” would be more difficult for an irregular language, when you can’t always be sure that it will be something like “Verb-command-form [the] noun”

On a similar note – games can be a great way to give a controlled, somewhat immersive experience. If designed properly, a whole game could be in the target language, while not overwhelming the player with more nuanced parts of grammar.

If I pick up a new multiplayer game, for example, I pretty much always want to play Single Player first to get a feel for the maps, weapons, gameplay, etc. Similarly, I am going to be pretty shy when it comes to actually practicing a new language, I want a “safe sandbox” to practice in first.

And, with respect to old Sierra and LucasArts games, I know that I, personally, have heard a number of non-native-English speakers say that those games were a big part of how they learned English.

So, what might be a good way to apply language learning in a game medium? What games have done this, and done a decent job? Hmmm…