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Re: [aymara] Aymara and Western Culture

Hi Jorge!  This is tremendously interesting - I bet that quote led to the
first mention I saw of the perfection of Aymara.  As to the tertiary
language, I think I can shed a little bit of light there.  Also as to where
the actual "translation" is done.  What we did in our system is first of all
totally parse the source sentence.  You know, decide which words are nouns,
verbs, or what - another thing I was interested in in Aymaran is that the
nouns are organized according to what they are.  We had such an
organization, and our "semanto syntactic codes" that we gave to every word
that went into our dictionary had a tremendous lot of information. The codes
told if the item was human, information, a machine, etc. Then based on these
codes, which in effect *were* the meaning of the sentence, but in code-form,
not as a natural language, we would make about 4 passes over the sentence,
increasingly transforming it into the target sentence. For instance, in the
first pass we would get related elements together, such as prepositional
phrases, which we would then group into a whole so the system would not
again see that phrase as separate words, it would see it as a single
element, identified as to its part of speech, whether it was adverbial or
adjectival, for instance, and either at that time or in the next pass it
would get stored with whatever it modified, so that in each pass the
sentence became more and more schematic.  In the last pass about all you
would see was SVO, but each of these elements would contain modifiers,
phrases, even clauses, although I remember we found relative clauses a real
headache, I worked at Logos only intermittently, so whether they finally got
it straightened out or not I don't know, but another thing was that after I
left the system degraded terribly, I came back for a special job several
years later.  It was actually an interesting job in terms of this
discussion, because what I had to do was "break up" every grammatical rule,
into source information/code and target information/code.  My son said that
in the end they never utilized the work because it was too complex to keep
the information in some place separate from yet related to its "partner"
information.  I certainly think that had to be the case with the system as
it was then, because I used to almost break down and weep at what they had
done - I was like, my baby, my precious baby, what have they done to you?
But theoretically physically separating source and target material would
make it easier to develop many systems.  So what we thought at the time and
what I also think now is that this process of resolving the source sentence
(I think we did that in 2 passes) and then transforming it into its target
equivalent in several passes (and in each pass there was also included a
"side trip" so to speak out to a semantic module so if you had a word like
"block" for instance we would figure out from the environment of the word
whether it was a wooden block, a city block, a block of data, etc., and the
code for the correct term would be put in) so I think this process was
really the tertiary "language" or metalanguage.  So this is my history, just
how it would apply to the possibility of Aymara serving as an interim
language I'm not sure but certainly the precision of expression Aymara
allows is a very remarkable feature.  You know, Jorge, do you think it would
be possible for me to come down and we could work further on this and also I
could read those tantalizing books, and learn Spanish in the process.
There's no better way to learn a language than to have something you are
dying to read - which exists only in that language!  This is my situation:
I'm 69, my husband and I have 7 children and 22 grandchildren, so I am able
to travel because they visit him and keep him from being lonesome, and of
course our children are all grown, the youngest is 36.  And I know that my
Logos experience would be very valuable, because we were the first to
actually do this.  There were other people getting into computerized
language translation, but no one else came up with so much and such complex
resolution as we did.  I don't need very much space, I travel with just a
back pack and the bag for my laptop computer and my whole system, actually,
I have a tiny printer, and I take the whole thing everywhere with me.  What
I would especially like to do is build some kind of proto-type and then get
it in the news to make the point how intelligent the aboriginal American
people are!  And I have the connections for this, Ted Turner is part of our
group.  I asked him to buy Logos back for us, and what he did is get some of
his people to get material on where machine translation stands at present -
which is the prudent thing, of course, so I contacted the name, a Professor
Hovy, and learned from him that nowadays they let the computer do the
translating.  They have to start with a source document and a target
translation of it, which they feed to the computer, which says to itself,
whenever I see this word "four" in English, for instance, it is "quatre" in
French.  But of course this isn't really "translation" it's just a
dictionary lookup, with no grammatical resolution.  Say hi to Omar for me,
he is also a very fine correspondent, I'd like to work with him also.  Love
to everyone, Laura  (And PS I'm going to order Eco's book from
Amazon-dot-com)  Post post scriptum, I'm also interested in the Semitic
connection.  What would this suggest as to where Americans come from?  I am
not interested in order to answer this question with finality, but again
because of the way our books tend to denigrate Native Americans.  And I mean
the Incas and others in that area performed feats of building, etc., that
rival the Egyptian pyramids.  We need to find out about these things and get
the word out!
----- Original Message -----
From: Jorge P. Arpasi <arpasi@aymara.org>
To: <aymaralist@aymara.org>
Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2001 1:35 PM
Subject: Re: [aymara] Aymara and Western Culture

> Laura:
> About a possible relation between the Translation Problem and the Aymara I
> like to do the following quotation from "The Search for a Perfect
> (Blackwell Pub. 1995), pp 346-347, by  the renowmed italian writter
> Eco.
> """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
>    In many of the most notable projects for mechanical translation,
>    there exists a notion of a parameter language, which does share many
>    of the characteristics of the a priori languages. There must, it is
>    argued, exist a tertium comparationis which might allow us to shift
>    from an expression in language A to an expression in language B by
>    deciding that both are equivalent to an expression of a metalaguage C.
>    If such a tertium really existed, it would be a perfect language.
>    The only alternative would be to discover a natural language which is
>    so "perfect" (so flexible and powerful) to serve as tertium
>    comparationis. In 1603, the Jesuit Ludovico Bertonio (Arte de la
>    lengua Aymara) described the Aymara language (still partially
>    spoken by Indians living between Bolivia and Peru) as endowed with an
>    immense flexibility and capability of accommodating neologisms,
>    particularly adapted to the expression of abstract concepts, so much
>    so as to raise a suspicion that it was an artificial invention. Later
>    language was described as the language of Adam, founded upon
>    necessary and immutable ideas", a philosophical language if ever there
>    were, and obviously somebody discovered that it had Semitic roots.
>    Recent studies have established Aymara is not based on an Aristotelian
>    two-valued logic (either True or False), but on a three-valued logic it
>    is, therefore, capable of expressing modal subtleties which other
>    languages can only capture through complex circumlocutions. Thus
>    there have been proposals to use Aymara to resolve all problems of
>    computer translation. Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated that
>    the Aymara would greatly facilitate the translation of any other
>    idiom into its own terms, but not the other way around. Thus, because
>    of its perfection, Aymara can render every thought expressed in other
>    mutually untranslatable languages, but the price to pay for it is that
>    (once the perfect language has resolved these thoughts into its own
>    terms), they cannot be translated back into our natural native idioms.
>    Aymara is a Black Hole.
>   One way out of this dilemma is to assume, as certain authors have
>   done, that translation is a matter to be resolved entirely within the
>   destination(or target) language, according to the context.
> """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
> The above ideas of Eco are based on the work of Guzman de Rojas. But as it
> known for some members of this list, the main critics to the work of
Guzman is
> its lack of a serious peer review.  Since the Guzman's work use
> results of both mathematical and linguistical branches, in this case, who
can be
> considered a valid peer?
> Jorge