This page explains what the Chraki Constructed Language is and where it’s going. Are you looking for how this site is organized (help documentation)? Click Here
You might be asking,
What is this project all about?~ Presumably You
There is a really-short-form answer, a short-form answer, and a long-form answer.
- Really Short Answer
- Short Answer
- Long Answer
- Why Chraki?
About Chraki: Just The Facts Ma’am
Chraki is a constructed language intended to operate as a naturally spoken language of discourse and as a technical programming language for computer-like devices. With Chraki you can communicate with artistry and precision, as well as instruct symbolic processing machines to do your bidding.
The Short End Of Things
Chraki (pronounced “ch-r-ah-k”, the i is silent) is a constructed language first imagined and created by Asher Wolfstein. A constructed (artificial) language (otherwise known as a conlang) is a language that has been invented, in particular very recently or by some individual(s). This differentiates it from other non-artificial “natural” languages that have been around for a very long time such as English, German, Japanese, etc.
These types of constructions usually are for some purpose, be it a fictional setting, an intellectual exercise, research into or learning about language and its functions, and, I personally also include, technical purposes (such as a programming language). You can find more about conlangs and programming languages on Wikipedia.
Chraki, in particular, was invented for three purposes:
- Expression – To offer a thorough means of artistic and intellectual expression while maintaining a desired level of precision (e.g. to avoid the denotative/connotative vagaries/shortcomings of existing mainstream languages).
- Understanding – To creatively explore and take advantage of (not yet existing) language processes and constructions in meaning, grammar, and symbology.
- Knowledge – To aid in man-machine communication via the construction of human-like artificial intelligences and programming languages that may utilize the ontologies, organization, and other constructions of the conlang.
With these aims in mind, it naturally follows that Chraki will work as both a naturally spoken language and as an artificial technical language for programming (symbolic processing machines). That means that you, employing the same linguistic foundation, can not only talk to your friends and express yourself meaningfully, but also bend machines to your will through programming.
The Long Tail Of Things
In the past, I, Asher Wolfstein, wrote:
When I was in about eighth or ninth grade I decide one day while attending the county fair up in the mountains where I lived that I was going to make up a language. Now, being a semi-rural country boy, I mean, I was showing sheep and swine at the fair, I had no idea that this was actually a legitimate creative endeavor. I mean, I guess I kind of knew about Klingon, but I always imagined Klingon as just a remnant of the greater Star Trek lore. I wanted to make a language people might actually speak, like in the real world. I called it “Trok,” being the language of truth.
I think I also subconsciously knew of the potential for any language to have a sort of spiritual or magical undertone. I mean, a lot of magical work involves language and the structure and generation of expression, particularly in writing. So to me, in a way, this was kind of an exercise in building a particular reality.
On a more practical note, I also understood implicitly that perhaps what language you spoke influenced how you thought. That certain attitudes or conceptual perceptions of reality are embedded in the construction of a language in both its word choice and in its syntax. This fascinated me. Could I perhaps communicate a whole new way of looking at the world by constructing an alternative language? There’s a whole world in a constructed language, and at the time I was particularly enamored with creating worlds.
. . . What I need is a mechanical mind, something that could potentially be “smarter” than me in various ways. What I should be creating is an artificial intelligence. However, creating something that can understand natural language alone is quite problematic, given the inconsistencies and ambiguities that any natural language contains. But what if we created an artificial language that was as unambiguous as possible, and as consistent as possible? If the computer could “learn” to process that language as it learned about the world, so to speak, then we’d have a consistent base line from which it could then begin to learn more “fuzzy” things. . . .Asher Wolfstein, (What Is Linguistics: An Introduction)
Twenty-Four Years Later…
On my blog’s about page, it’s listed that the idea of Chrak and the name “came to me” approximately twenty-four years ago (when I was twelve). That would put its inception in the year 1995, so right at the end of the twentieth century:
. . . Approximately twenty-four years ago, when I was twelve, it suddenly occurred to me that though I speak English in this timeline, that wasn’t always the case. I initially spoke an extraordinary language that I could hardly remember, but that I knew was quite useful and unique. This tongue was the language of the future, where I’m from, and it is called Chraki (pronounced “Ch-r-ah-k”.) Since that time, I’ve endeavored to rebuild this language and perhaps embellish it myself as a constructed language (conlang.) . . .
. . . (This project) aims to produce a language that can perform multiple functions. One can speak Chraki naturally, but one can also use it in a technical fashion such as for programming computers and logic. . . .Asher Wolfstein, (About Asher Wolfstein, Creative Genius Extraordinaire)
The Slightest Philosophy
(Note: The heading for this section is borrowed from a book of the same title. Check it out!)
When I have presented the idea of a dual-purpose language to others, mostly in passing so far, I am usually met with concern or skepticism. Those who are familiar with programming computers by trade often have difficulty seeing how a seemingly natural language could be muscled into any kind of formal specification. Brackets, braces, indents, and keyword constructs (like if-clauses) float through their mind, and if not that then the apparently inevitable trend for natural language to be logically imprecise muddles their understanding.
On the other hand, those who are familiar with rhetoric, composition, and literature by trade appear to come from the opposite end of the spectrum. Here the bits, beeps, and boops of the computer are some kind of scientific magic that is somehow impenetrable by the artistry of the fuzzy subconscious, being the presumable source of symbology and thus language. How could a set, finite, and incredibly precise logical process encapsulate or have anything in common with the beautiful poetic phrases of someone like Shakespeare?
These reactions, as I interpret them, create an impression of exclusivity between the technical, logical, or scientific, and the constant vagaries of art, or self-expression. This divide is nothing new, as I’ve observed such attitudes throughout my life, but it becomes flagrantly obvious when I propose Chraki as a foundation that could serve both ends.
Both Sides Of the Divide
This is a classic case of the “two sides of the brain” notion. The idea, for those unfamiliar, is that the “left-brain” is the rational, logical, and delineating operator, whereas the “right-brain” of an individual operates on intuition, ad-hoc relations, and emotion. Many people identify as utilizing one side of the brain more than the other, and this phenomenon can often be observed in, say, programmers/engineers who have little interest in the arts/literature, or artists who have little interest in anything technical (outside of artistic technique.)
Personally, I think I use “both sides of my brain,” and many people out there are similar. I just as easily digest, say, an operatic performance as I do a fifteen-hundred-page programming manual. I believe that this has come about not out of luck, but simply by practice (and that anyone can do it). One of my dreams has been to create an outstanding computer game, which is something that requires both technical programming and great artistic expression. By exploring/creating computer games I’ve worked to develop both my “artistic” and “logical” sides.
It’s All In The Process
Though this duality will resurface again later when we get to the semantics of Chraki, I now propose how something like Chraki, being a constructed language, could act as a bridge across this chasm. Chraki’s hopeful connecting capability lies first in what both of these sides, “left” and “right”, have in common.
When someone builds a traditionally linguistic construct, such as a sentence, they employ many different tools to help them in a particular order: one decides the meaning, then they select specific instances of a large broad vocabulary, then they select a category of sentence which offers a particular syntax, and then the general rules of grammar of the language tell them where to put all the nomenclature. Likewise, when someone composes a programming statement or group of statements, they decide the purpose, select the keywords, and put them in a specific syntactical order that the compiler will properly translate into machine code.
On the surface then, the processes aren’t that different from each other. In deeper theory, there’s perhaps even more in common. In computer science, mathematics, and logic there are the ideas of (various) “formal languages.” These languages are made up of symbols that indicate specific actions, or relational meanings, within a given process of interpretation (grammar.) Many logical constructions, or even programs, have been made using these kinds of languages. At the root of it, that’s not that different than when I select particular symbols to portray some kind of meaning to you. When you get into the abstractions of it, it’s truly the same process, different context.
Common (Coffee?) Grounds
Chraki attempts to take advantage of this commonality by keeping it in mind when “designing” both the natural components, and the more technical components, of the language. Care is taken to try to keep the technical aspects/expressions as similar or fluid as the natural aspects/expressions. Since technical expressions require much more deliberate precision, some differences are bound to crop up, but they are hopefully minimized.
Some Guiding Principles
We now have a hopeful bridge for us to build, however, our civil engineer still doesn’t quite know what to do. So, you could say, we brought in an expensive consultant to help us shape some guiding principles for the design of our new invention.
- Expressiveness – The first and by far most important design principle to adhere to is one of expressive power. Simply because Chraki can be used for “dry” practical purposes does not preclude it from being nuanced and detailed in its varied expression. This is the guiding principle that drives such decisions as making every “codification” (word) able to be used in any form (adverb, adjective, verb, etc.)
- The Speaker Knows – This slightly more technical than artistic principle asserts that the speaker/writer of Chraki should be able to use Chraki in whatever way they desire. Programming wise, there are little to no restrictions on how the programmer can achieve their goals. This is somewhat counter to the more common idea that programming language restrictions/patterns induce/enforce discipline in construction (making “cleaner” code.)
- Organization – Because we want Chraki to be more easily understood or “processable” by machines (and otherwise) it behooves us to arrange it in a consistent way that “makes sense.” What makes sense is open to interpretation, but the idea is that there shouldn’t be weird exceptions floating around just “because,” or assemblies that are unique to that specific instance. If you have to write an out of the way inconsistent rule for it (especially if it’s only for it), it probably doesn’t belong.
With these three (so far) guiding design principles I believe Chraki can grow to be viable and useful in both the fanciful and the practical. I feel adherence to these helps Chraki be set apart from other conlangs in both definition and categorization and fulfills the unique requirements set out for its use.
Advanced Placement Composition
Finally, we come to the basic building blocks of Chraki. What makes up the language? In which way is it organized? How do I write/use it? Good questions!
Chraki is composed of or develops “upwards” from a single seed or foundation, being “gnosis”. “Gnosis” in this context is the general conception of knowledge as encapsulated insight and expression unbound to a particular format, time, existent, system, or process. This essential grounding asserts that the ideas and information communicated don’t actually originate within the speaker’s language itself. This assertion lies in opposition to the ideology that language is required in order to reason over abstract ideas or relate them to each other. Gnosis is also vital because it sets up an intellectual category of meaning apart from any particular expression itself, which is critical to understand when considering the next Chraki concept.
The next layer, or you might say the trunk, coming up from the gnostic layer is that of encoding. This is one of the most useful and primary concepts to understand when approaching Chraki. In short, encoding is the process of taking information and recording it in a particular format within some form of medium. This process is a crucial distinction in Chraki primarily because the smallest “unit” of meaning in the language is a codification. This construction is similar to a “word” in a natural language such as English (though it is more the idea of something), but it can take very different turns from any particular “word” during the application of the codification. For example, a codification can be employed to make the equivalent of a “word” by portraying it as any part of an expression (verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, noun, etc.); the medium, in this case, is the expression.
Speaking And Writing
Moving upward we get to the first practical encoding format for Chraki. Since one of Chraki’s goals is to be a natural language then it must be able to be spoken between people. The medium here then is sound, and in particular, sounds that can be produced via the mouth much like we do any spoken language. In this phonetic phase, the aural units and how they are combined is decided. Once these component parts are decided, an offshoot of phonetics is some way to record these sequences of sounds into a consistent format, and we quickly launch into the foundation of the language’s writing system with the basic written phonetic units. This lays the groundwork where we can begin to string together a series of legal sounds into a meaningful sequence as a codification.
From here we delve into further refinement and development of codifications through the tree-like processes of integration and disintegration. An added writing factor is introduced here with the idea of codifications (vocabulary) being written units upon themselves and we develop conceptual units (akin to Japanese Kanji or Chinese Hanzi.)
Bringing It All Together (Extensibly)
Once enough vocabulary is established the next layer is one of syntax and/or grammar. Categorical and other differentiating systems are used to establish ways for codifications to relate to each other; to be expressed in relation to various elements of experience (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) Some proposed methods to be employed include the use of prefixes and suffices surrounding codifications, sentence-structure particles (like Japanese), and so on. This is currently an area of great continued development.
The original (lengthy) mission statement for the Chraki language is as follows:
Provide a consistently effective modeling environment for experiential reality, via fundamental abstract organizational processes, that allows for maximum (not optimal) expressive power and freedom in an aesthetically unique and engaging way that celebrates unconventionality and individualism.The Chraki Mission Statement
The original goals of the Chraki language include:
- Enable nuanced and comprehensive information storage and communication between individuals and machines integratively. (Natural Language and Natural Language Processing)
- Empower the construction of machines and processes to further enhance said information and communication. (Computational Programming Language)
As you can see, these were some lofty and idealistic goals! I still hope to achieve them but have broken them down into the component parts you have read above to make them more manageable. As someone who has endeavored to study at least a dozen programming languages and counting (from PostScript to Prolog), if these goals can be realized that is reason enough to learn and use Chraki.
It is my hope that Chraki, with its individualistic and unique features/approach, can become a tool not only for research purposes (both organic and technical) but also an incredibly powerful (and even efficient) mechanism for programming and communication.
For a further look into the philosophy, mechanisms, and features of the Chraki language, check out these links (repeated from earlier with an addition):
- Foundational Elements Of Chraki
- The Chraki System Of Writing
- Chraki As A Programming Language: Environment, Paradigm, and Model
If you are interested in further reading on constructed languages (conlangs), those who make them, and the processes they go through, you can visit any of the resources below:
- The Language Creation Society
- (particularly their resources page: https://conlang.org/resources/)
- The subreddit r/conlangs
- (and their resources page: https://www.reddit.com/r/conlangs/wiki/resources)
- Mark Rosenfelder’s Metaverse (particularly his “Kit” series of books.)
- The FrathWiki (particularly their software page.)
- Margaret Ransdell-Green’s Aeniith Conglang Resources
- David J. Peterson’s (of Game of Thrones fame) links page
These links should provide you with countless more further links to satisfy I hope any conlanger’s desires. I warn that I’m not personally very active in many of the more community-oriented conlang resources, so if you’re looking to get in touch with (or read more about) me, please direct your browser to my personal blog https://wunk.me/ (for direct access to my “biography” and what I’m all about, see my About Page)