Day four --
Question -- from "porpleafreet" -- just PLEASE give a straight answer on why you have so many ridiculous and unnecessary roots. this issue has been raised multiple times on every page, and so far, you have not deigned to answer it. so, please save yourself any further grievance and just answer the question now.
Answer -- As a mathematician linguist and a language linguist, I would truly like to answer your questions by proving a "uniqueness theorem". However, with the post like yours, I must give in. Now, I am going to answer your questions with direct answers, right to the points. Yet, I still need to open a pathway in order to get to them.
As I already stated in my previous post, after the theoretical work for a universal language was completed in 1980s, I was desperately needing a root word set which is able to encode at least one natural language. So, I dived into the English Etymology. I studied all English root words and prefixes, but they only encompass a small portion of English vocabulary. The suffixes are mainly for the purpose of inflection. So, I went out and brought a book, "Dictionary of word origins" by Joseph T. Shipley (ISBN 80022-1557-2). I read the entire dictionary, page by page. Then, I was kind of an expert on English etymology, but no cigar, no root word set for constructing a universal language.
If anyone can give me such a root word set, I will thank him a billion. If it is just a partial set (1/2, 1/5, 1/10, ...), I will still thank him a million. At least, I would have something to start with. If that partial set has many, many flaws, I would have still giving him many, many hugs. However, if someone gave me a complete set, I would then have demanded the guarantee of its completeness.
There was no such a kind person for twenty some years. However, in October 2003, my luck was turned. I was invited by Chinese government to Beijing for some meetings. In one meeting, a few linguists from Taiwan brought up an issue (not in the agenda) about the stupidity of the simplified Chinese word system. Their points were as follow:
1. The traditional system was artistically beautiful while the new system destroyed it.
2. The traditional system was the true heritage of Chinese culture. By abandoning it, China has lost the Chinese heritage.
3. Returning to the traditional system will be one of the best way for bringing Taiwan back into China.
Many China's high officials and many China's linguists argued back with two simple points.
o The traditional system was too arbitrary, too chaotic, too complicated, too illogical, too difficult to be learned, and China had 85% illiterate rate in the 1960s because of such a stupid system.
o The simplified system is much easier to learn, and it reduced China's illiterate rate from 85% to 15% in 50 short years. This new word system is "the" greatest achievement of the Chinese government.
Although a great Chinese language linguist on classic Chinese writing, I was not well-versed on Chinese etymology at that moment. So, I kept my silence. Upon returning home, I decided to look into this issue. I was greatly surprised with many information which I did not know before.
1. Before launching the simplified system, China was seriously considering to abandon the Chinese word system entirely, although finally settled with a simplified system.
2. Many linguists around the world (in China or in the West) were overwhelmingly one sided condemning the traditional system as arbitrary, chaotic, complicated, illogical, ..., and more. Dr. F.S.C. Northrop was a great linguist and the most prominent Sinologist in the 1960. His final verdict on Chinese tradition word system is available at
This overwhelmed one sided condemnation shocked me. With this shock, some suspicions arose in me. I do know the Ramsey's large number theorem and the shadow theorem. However stupid the traditional Chinese word system is, it must have some orders in it. As a great theorist on theoretical physics, a good mathematician and an excellent Chinese language linguist, I am 100% confident that I can find whatever orders in that tradition system regardless of how minute it is or how deep it is hidden. I dived into the Chinese etymology. With a less-on, more-off research schedule, I concluded that traditional Chinese word system is an axiomatized root word system by the November 2004. By April 2006, a root word set (220 roots) for Chinese traditional word system was in my hand. Then, why for 2000 years, no one noticed this fact? A simplified answer is that it is deeply camouflaged. Why and how, I will discuss them later. By January 2008, all Chinese characters (traditional or simplified, almost 60,000) were checked with this root word set. No "single" character escaped. And, a book "Chinese Etymology" was published with US copyright number TX6-917-909 in January 2008.
I did prove a theorem almost 30 years ago. If a root word set can encode one natural language, it can encode all languages. Thus, a root word set for a universal language was in my hand.
Now, again, that root word set was viewed as mumbo-jumbo, nonsense, illogical, stupid, ..., and more. I encoded about three hundred English words with the set. If you don't like my way of encoding, do a better one yourself. If you can find one English word which cannot be encoded with that set, then it is not complete, and you can condemn it all the way to the Kingdom come. Then, I will deliver all those condemnations to those dead ancient Chinese. I am 100% innocent.
So far, the critiques on the root word set can be put into three groups:
1. "..., and the simplest symbols you have are reserved for a bunch of mystical mumbo-jumbo about spirits and heaven and energy and pre-existence."
2. Too many roots for one concept or one thing, such as the roots for hand.
3. "Towards the end of the list, you have "roots" which are actually compounds"
Real, real, really, you should be able to answer those questions yourself.
Anyway, my answers are below:
1. Why so many roots for one thing? In Chinese traditional word system, it has some un-stated rules.
o 50% of words should not contain more than 3 roots, about 30,000 Chinese words.
o 40 % of words should not contain more than 4 roots, about 24,000 Chinese words.
o 9.9999...% of words should not contain more than 6 roots.
In fact, the root for hand is not just a hand, the physical hand. The root for hand is also used for actions, all kinds of action. If there are 20,000 words are action words by hand, the "one root for hand" system will look truly stupid, let alone to say it simply cannot do the job. Creating a second symbol for it is as simple as blinking an eye. Why should we be so stingy about creating a few more roots for the same thing? In Chinese system, there are 14 roots for hand, I already cut out quite a few of them for the PreBabel set.
2. Why those stupid mumbo-jumbo? Because, they are the, the, the most important roots. So, I place them at the beginning in the root word list. The most difficult words to encode are the conceptual words, the abstract conceptual words, the abstract, abstract, abstract,..., conceptual words. Perhaps, we should use some mathematic operators for those type of roots, such as (+, -, X, >, <, etc.). No, they are not abstract enough. Maybe, we could find some symbols in the abstract algebra. But, why bother? There is a set of stupid mumbo-jumbo right there to be the most abstract symbols. By using this stupid mumbo-jumbo set, I can encode Chinese word system with ease. Without it, almost half of the Chinese words cannot be encoded. If I can encode one natural language with a root word set, that root word set can encode all languages.
3. Those stupid compounds, they are not roots, stup... There is a mathematic theorem, the "Minimum complexity theorem". It states, "for any system, it has a minimum complexity which cannot be further reduced by 'any' means." If we try to invent a system or a machine to reduce the complexity of a system, we can general do it if the minimum point is not reached. At the minimum point, no effort of any kind can reduce it any further. In fact, in my book "Chinese Etymology," in lesson three, I did reduce the Chinese root word set to half (from 220 to 110). Yet, I must reconstruct them when I encode the Chinese words. With a few compound roots in the root word set, the job of encoding a (any) language becomes much, much easier. If you don't like those compounds, ignore them.
PreBabel is the true universal language, it is available at