35

Here are three options you might want to consider: Noun classes assign each noun a class (well known examples include the gender systems of Indo-European languages, and also the more elaborate systems of Bantu languages). Having pronouns agree with the noun class of the nouns talked about greatly helps reduce ambiguity, though it would likely not help in ...


28

In addition to the options mentioned by Adarain and Jan, various reflexives and reflexive-like operations can often be of use in dealing with such situations. English already has some reflexives, providing some amount of disambiguation, Danish goes a little further has a compulsory reflexive/non-reflexive distinction in 3rd person possessives, and while the ...


19

If naturalness (being like a natural language) is a design goal, then a conlang can embrace ambiguity with no shame. Efficiency. Most ambiguous sentences are understood well enough in the context they are uttered in, clarified either by prior knowledge, non-linguistic communication (body language, pointing, etc), or through follow up questions from the ...


17

Lojban's official formal grammar is written in YACC, which is a LALR(1) parser generator. Since this means that the parser only ever "looks ahead" a maximum distance of one token while parsing, garden path sentences are impossible in the traditional sense. This just means that the parse tree can't be drastically transformed during the sentence—it doesn't ...


11

Theoretically you can eliminate metaphor, yes, but you are working against human nature itself. Certain metaphors are exceedingly common and embedded in the very grammar of many languages (although their exact expression may vary), so in that regard, avoiding metaphor is extremely difficult because it's somewhat an inherent part of the human psyche. Either ...


11

In addition to Adarain’s answer, the ambiguity can also be resolved in an out-of-the-box way. For example, English can use the former or the latter in place of an inflected form of he to distinguish between the two cases. Languages like German go a step further and would just use this instead of the latter in most cases. These words do not replace pronouns, ...


7

Let's take an element of Lojban's grammar, and see if it's semantically ambiguous. In lojban, tanru are basically two predicates in adposition. The first one semantically modifies the second one; and that's all. Example: {lo zdani gerku cu barda}: The house dog is big. {lo gerku zdani cu barda}: The kennel is big. Where {zdani} (roughly) means "home", {...


6

Metaphors are based on shared cultural understanding. Here is one often quoted example of a metaphor from Shakespeare's As You Like It: All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances ... Understanding this metaphor relies on the concept of 'theatre' being shared among the speakers. If you ...


5

For a conlang, it seems like one other way to avoid ambiguity that I do not see noted in previous answers is to have the language enforce grammatical rules such that a pronoun must always refer to a specific type of referent. That is, consider these four possible types of grammar rules (they may be other rules a language may follow): A pronoun always refers ...


5

Here are the top five best-known (see footnote 1). Lojban at lojban.org is the better-known successor of Loglan. Loglan at loglan.org is based on formal logic and is to some extent not unlike a transcription of formal logic (see footnote 2). Ithkuil at ithkuil.net is like the two above but is as compact as possible, allowing to read, write, say, and hear ...


4

Firstly, I have thought about this too before. Actually, only one word is needed for all of I, you, this, there, tomorrow, etc. You can analyse these as I, (the person I am referring to), (the thing I am referring to at/by/on ME), (the place I am referring to not at/by/on ME), (the day which is one day later than the day I am in). This goes for most words ...


4

Fundamentally, parts of speech are lexically determined. What this means is that in general, there is no way to find the part of speech of a word knowing only the word itself. You have to memorise it separately for each word. A good way of seeing this is to observe that two languages may assign different parts of speech to exactly the same word when it is ...


3

All human communication is context-dependent. A context-independent language would be ununderstandable (by humans, at least). My anser to this question, Can all sentences be represented logically? deals with this problem; the basic reasoning comes from Hubert Dreyfus, What computers cannot do, via Setargew Kenaw Fantaw.


2

Here are some solutions, roughly in descending order of naturalness. distance-specific determiners or inflections topic-prominence and a dedicated pronoun for referring back to the topic switch-reference on nonfinite verbs pro-forms incorporating some feature such as the first sound of a word. 1 distance-specific determiners or inflections You can solve ...


1

First a in this form brand new fact from natural languages: All natural languages are of approximately the same efficiency despite their quite noticeable differences (some languages are spoken at a rather fast pace in syllables per second, but than the information content of a syllable is lower than in other languages that are spoken more slowly). The ...


1

If an auxlang did not have metaphors, it would soon acquire them if the auxlang in question were used as the world's second language. I doubt that there exists any community of sapient life forms that could not make comparisons between things, beings, and forces that happen to be dissimilar.


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