Bootstrapping a language

In computer science, there is a concept called bootstrapping.  It applies primarily at two points:  The first is when you start a computer up, and the second is when you write a new language.  It refers to “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps”.

When you begin writing another language, you have to write it in another language.  The earliest were written in machine code, meaning hexadecimal values that the processor interprets into instructions.  But as the craft advanced, the languages became even more abstract, until you have today’s monstrosities of Java, python, and whatever else there is.

But the languages had to come from somewhere.

So what happened was that someone had an idea for a language.  They then began writing that language in a different language.  For example, the people who wrote GCC began writing in a different compiler, and continued writing until the compiler they were writing could compile itself.  Once that became the case, there was no longer the need for the other compiler.

Learning a language is bootstrapping.

Even a child bootstraps into their first language.  This is because children already have a language – the language of emotions, of need, of body language.  That is translated into concepts that the child starts with, and then soon the language sort of takes over and becomes the language of the inner monologue.  The inner monologue then becomes “baked in”, and that is one’s native language.

So it is necessary, in the beginning, to relate concepts in a language to your native language.  But this is only a bootstrapping process and must be seen as such.  The goal has to be to be able to have enough of a grounding in the language to begin to see it for what it is – to speak it in its own language.

This is why I’m actually not paying much attention to actual vocabulary right now.  Vocabulary absolutely is important and one must learn it.  But, to me, the vocabulary is less important than the framework.  The syllabary first, then the kanji along with the particles, the conjugations, and understanding how words are built.  At that point, vocabulary, I think, becomes fairly simple.  Still a lot of memorization, but simple.  Yes, vocabulary is attained as a side effect of learning kanji, and also one must know some in order to understand the grammar, but that’s not the focus, and not all words have kanji equivalents.

Building the structure, then adding in the glass, tiling etc.  Seems to me the logical way to do it.

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