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<nettime> Lojban recognition
Robin Stephenson (by way of t byfield <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>) on Wed, 28 Apr 1999 19:51:27 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Lojban recognition


     [orig to <silent-tristero {AT} world.std.com>]

Lojban (/LOZH-bahn/) is a constructed language.  Apparently one `can
learn enough Lojban grammar to support conversation in just a couple
of hours'.  Vocab is a longer-term project.  So far, so boring:
another Volapük or Esperanto, seemingly doomed to failure?  There's
one really nice difference from Volapük, Esperanto, or even Klingon,
however.  Lojban seems particularly suitable for communication with
computers.
  There is a formal grammar for the language (both computer-friendly
YACC and easier-on-the-eye BNF).  The sounds of the root words have
been chosen so as to be distinct in noisy environments, which probably
helps with dodgy microphones & sound cards.  It uses a subset of the
Roman alphabet, and pronounciation is phonetic (Lojban sounds a bit
like Spanish or Italian, apparently).  There is a fairly large
dictionary, covering many modern terms (with a defined way of importing
more).
  Lojban has been going for at least ten years in one form or another,
and there's quite a lot of material collected at <http://www.lojban.org/>.
What piqued my interest was IBM's recent announcement that they're
making the SDK for their ViaVoice products available on the Linux
platform (<http://www.software.ibm.com/speech/>, Linux link on bottom
right). It struck me that Lojban would make a great pidgin for
talking with computers -- much better than trying to do recognition of
something as hairy as English.  It's a bigger jump than learning
Graffitti to use a Palm Pilot, but I think it can be done in easy stages.

Amusingly, one of the examples seems to be taken from Taxi Driver:

     xu do tavla mi    Is it true that you are talking to me?
        -- ===== --

     do xu tavla mi    Are you the one talking to me?
     --    ===== --

     do tavla xu mi    Talking to me? Is that what you're doing?
     -- =====    --

     do tavla mi xu    Is it me you are talking to?
     -- ===== --

                     ``Well I'm the only one here.  Who do you think
                       you're talking to?  Oh yeah?  Huh?  OK.''

-- 
 Robin Stephenson
 Cuts Out Oven Doubt

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