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Re: VMs: Re: Note for Jeff
At 16:22 16/12/2003 -0500, Larry Roux wrote:
I could show a few examples of where ch is NOT a single glyph
(unfortunately I am at work and don't have the pages readily handy). So,
remember, your OPINION is that ch is a single entity. Everyone does not
have to agree
Yes, I've seen those (perilously few) examples - but ultimately it's a
judgement call as to whether they are statistically sufficient to make ch
and sh composite glyphs. If you had a text (of an unknown language) with
10000 instances of "m" and 10 instances of "n", would that be enough to
assert that "m" is actually "nn"? Sure, that's more than a hapax legomena
(ie a single instance in a text), but would it be sensible to draw the "nn"
Perhaps more importantly for Jeff's position, it would be extraordinarily
hard to construct a particularly persuasive argument that EVA "sh" (or,
more accurately, "Sh") has much to do with the freestanding EVA "s" - yet
because he seems to take EVA as literally true (when it's only a handy
approximation on our long road forward), this is what he's assuming.
What I'm saying is this: relying purely on EVA (rather than looking at the
text itself) would seems to me to be a superficial approach, and the kinds
of problems you're discussing that arise from the transliteration of "ch" /
"sh" / "s" (never mind all the "sh" variants... or might you argue that
they are actually three letters?) are merely manifestations of that
Of course, you *could* construct an argument for "ch" being two letters -
and that *might just* make sense in a language (as in "qu" - if "u" only
ever appeared after two letters, that is). However, in a cipher or an
artificial language, that would make little or no sense, as the "h" would
have virtually no information content (my guess is roughly 0.001 bits of
The postmodern methodology is to say "here's another opinion which we
should add to our list - but we should not judge between competing
opinions, as that would require us to take an Absolute Position, Which Is A
Very Bad Thing Indeed." OK, there are *some* merits to this kind of
approach - but the huge demerits are that you end up drowning in opinions,
and that you are unable to resolve any issues of uncertainty that arise.
Few thinkers yet seem ready to say that being so absolutist about the
poverty of absolutism is errant nonsense, and that we instead need to keep
tolerance (divergent acceptance) and judgement (convergent evaluation) in
dynamic tension. For example, we could spend our lives here simply
documenting all the clever, interesting (and usually conflicting) opinions
on the VMs which people have had - but what a waste of life that would be.
If we are to move forward here, we must do better than simply celebrating
our intellectual diversity and ingenuity - we should instead try to find
absolutes against which we can evaluate different opinions and ideas (such
as using BIC for evaluating "word"-model fitness). Which VMs hypotheses and
models are statistically significant, and which are simply rubbish?
Cheers, ....Nick Pelling....
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