A few notes about Loglan

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Over the years, a few falsehoods have made the rounds about Loglan. These are some I’ve seen on-line.

Loglan is a computer language.
It seems that there is, in fact, a computer language used in Europe that is named “Loglan”, but it’s unrelated. I don't know anything about it.
It is true that Loglan is designed to be avoid certain things that make traditional languages hard for computers to understand.
Loglan is just one more attempt to build a better Esperanto.
No. Although some Loglan enthusiasts promote Loglan as an International Auxiliary Language (IAL) like Esperanto, and although it does actually offer some advantages that way (it is much less Euro-centric than most of the pack), it was not designed for that purpose. It was designed as a research tool, and as, in fact, the world's first experimental language.
Loglan has two hundred rules of grammar where Esperanto has only sixteen.
This one’s for the terminally clueless. Loglan has, it is true, about two hundred rules of grammar, but those are rules at a level of precision sufficient for a computer to parse it. The “sixteen rules” of Esperanto, on the other hand—well, to begin with, they aren’t sixteen; several of them are really two rules in one. But, more to the point, these rules are utterly incomplete; they assume as a starting point a middle-of-the-road European grammar, and even then they only cover things that traditional European grammarians deal with. I am not aware of any attempt to build a computer grammar for Esperanto, but it’s a safe bet that it would have around ten or twenty thousand rules, just like English and all natural languages.
If Loglan has two hundred rules, Esperanto has thousands. If Esperanto has sixteen rules, Loglan has none.
Loglan was conceived to be a logical language.
Yes and no. The original purpose was to provide an experimental apparatus to test the famous Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which holds that what we can think depends on the language we think in. For that purpose, it had to be an extreme language in some way. It was decided to make it extremely logical because logic is well understood, clearly related to language ("logic" comes from the Greek word “λογλς” (“logos”), meaning “word”), and easy to test.
So Loglan was indeed designed as a Logical language, but that was secondary to its original aim of being an unusual language.
Loglan is a return to 17th–18th century attempts to build a “universal sign”.
Not particularly. Loglan relies more than most natural languages do on words built from simpler words, but every serious attempt to build a working artificial language does the same thing, because it vastly simplifies the work of creating a learnable vocabulary.
Loglan is now named Lojban.
Some years ago, certain people involved with Loglan split off and started their own program and their own language. I wasn’t around at the time, and I don't know much about what happened, but the fact is that Lojban and Loglan are two different languages, driven by two different groups, and I wish the Lojban people would stop confusing the issue.
The Loglan Institute is a for-profit corporation.
It isn't; it's a non-profit. It does charge for its books and software, but seeing that there’s no good fairy bankrolling them, that shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Last updated December 15, 2000

John W. Kennedy

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