Bard 0.1

Aug. 20th, 2011 10:05 pm
bouteillebleu: (Pocket watch)
Today I have finally started on a programming idea I had a while ago - something that uses the Python Natural Language Toolkit to mess around with poetry.

What I have so far is something that automatically generates (almost) iambic pentameter. It's getting the words from Hamlet at the moment (each pair of words in the output occur next to each other in the play).

It is very bad iambic pentameter, mind, because I'm not taking into account where the emphasis is in words. (There's a dictionary I can use to do this, but I'm not using it yet.) But here's its first creation:

with your sister be pardon and armour
with sleep to stand you his tenders for his
with honesty can well appear like you
with speed to fall a farm it will wear him
with this hand more like madness range as you
with ecstasy of something musty him
with it cannot tell my lowest note him
with equal thanks are naught s cap of frame
with the foils have ta to her virgin as
with entertainment than his base into


As you can see, it's got some way to go. Because the output's random, I can't tell if its love for "with" is accidental or a bug in my code; another few runs of the code should be enough to find out. (The "ta" and "s" are because I'm removing punctuation, which is its own entry in the word lists I'm using - the first is probably from "ta'en".)

Next up - recognising word emphasis properly, possibly using more data and trigrams rather than just bigrams, and likely uploading to Github.
bouteillebleu: (Eye (rainbow))
I have only just discovered that along with the many other science and mathematical Olympiads, there is an International Linguistics Olympiad. The sample questions are amazing.

Unlike another Olympiad I never heard of at school (the International Olympiad in Informatics - we knew about the Chemistry, Physics and Maths ones, and I assumed there was a Biology one as well), the Linguistics Olympiad started two years after I left school, and the UK one has only been going since 2009.

But having looked at the sample questions, I am so enthused about it that I am likely to have a look at some of them in more detail this evening. :D
bouteillebleu: (Pocket watch)
Following a conversation with a housemate in which he asked what the proper linguistic term for things like "saxamaphone" and "tramapoline" was, I share with you the following article: Reduplication in English Homeric Infixation.

(Yes, that Homer. Yes, it has some phonology in there; the Wikipedia page on Optimality Theory might be interesting, or you could just skip most of the phonology and read the examples. :)
bouteillebleu: (Eye (rainbow))
So far, Through the Language Glass has been enlightening. (I am on page 126, nearly done with the first part.)

The author's account of studies of how languages deal with colour starts at least a century before Berlin and Kay, and points out that their work wasn't the first to come to its conclusions, just the better known one.

I giggled at the analogy involving the "Munsell Taste Test" - I'm not sure how funny this would be without a background in linguistics of colour.

It's also given me some references for recent (2009) research about language typology and its relation to speaker population size - I'm looking forward to catching up with this.

I'm not so fond of some of his rhetoric, for example on p. 125:

For decades, linguists have elevated the hollow slogan that 'all languages are equally complex' to a fundamental tenet of their discipline, zealously suppressing as heresy any suggestion that the complexity of any areas of grammar could reflect aspects of society. As a consequence, relatively little work has been done on the subject. But a flurry of publications from the last couple of years shows that more linguists are now daring to explore such connections.


but that's just because I assume that the differences in opinions and directions of research are not as emotionally charged as "zealously suppressing" and "heresy" would imply, and I am reading more of an analogy to plucky-hero-versus-monolithic-empire into "daring" than the author probably intended.

As for academic reading, it doesn't have footnotes but it does have a list at the back that follows up references in the text, and a bibliography. Yay. :)
bouteillebleu: (Eye (rainbow))
How many of you learned code languages like this at school to have secret conversations with friends? What sort of codes were they? How easy or hard did you find it to learn?

(The one I learned was called "Uvuguv", because you put "uvug" between the start of a syllable and the rest, so "what" because "wu-vu-got" and so on. It took me a few weeks of listening to other people for it to click, and then I could speak it fairly fluently.)

How many of you would consider a LARP (or tabletop) game where something like this was used for representing/physrepping multiple languages? If you wouldn't like it, what are the problems you see with it for you and for a game in general?




I've floated this idea in a couple of places, but (a) do not have a game idea that needs language physrepping, and (b) am aware that when I've suggested it, people have said they'd find it difficult to do. I plan to follow this post up with some more thoughts about methods of physrepping language in LARP games.
bouteillebleu: (Pocket watch)
For speech it selfe is artificiall and made by man, and the more pleasing it is, the more it preuaileth to such purpose as it is intended for: but speech by meeter is a kind of vtterance, more cleanly couched and more delicate to the eare then prose is, because it is more currant and slipper vpon the tongue, and withal tunable and melodious, as a kind of Musicke, and therfore may be tearmed a musicall speech or vtterance, which cannot but please the hearer very well. Another cause is, for that it is briefer & more compendious, and easier to beare away and be retained in memorie, then that which is contained in multitude of words and full of tedious ambage and long periods.

From The Arte of English Poesie again. I love the way this man writes.

Does anyone know what "tedious ambage" even is?
bouteillebleu: (Pomowned)
I have a soft spot for crackpot theories. And Edo Nyland's theory of why all languages evolved from Basque, a language which is commonly taken to be an isolate among languages spoken in Europe, is a great example of such.

The story starts with a radio programme suggesting that Odysseus didn't actually sail the Mediterranean, he possibly went to the North Atlantic instead, and goes on as follows:

Could it be that the peoples along the Atlantic coast of Europe had belonged to the same migration and that all these had spoken the same neolithic language we now call Basque? To test this idea I tried the Basque dictionary on "Laistrygonian" and very quickly there appeared "lai-istri-goni-an". Using the full Basque words: laino-istripu-gonbidatu-aniztasun, meaning: fog-accidents-invites-many, or "fog invites many accidents". Indeed the excellent geographical details provided in the epic, and the entrance problems hinted at in the name perfectly fitted only one place on the west coast of Ireland: Killary Harbour in northern Conamara. My linguistic adventure was off to a good start.


For those of you playing along at home, this sort of "linguistic research" - splitting interesting words into random syllable groups, finding vaguely related Basque words and making up etymologies for the word out of them - is a staple of his theories. It's also complete bullshit.

I'd have a look at his book, but not for £17, and unsurprisingly the UL doesn't have a copy since Trafford Publishing appears to be a vanity press.

They charge a hundred dollars to submit your manuscript, two dollars per page to correct formatting errors in your manuscript among other things that are fairly normal in the editorial process for a non-fiction book as far as I'm aware, and a whole host of expensive packages if you're desperate to be "published" and want more cachet than, say, typesetting your own books and selling them on Lulu will bring you. For what it's worth, at least Lulu is honest that it's effectively Cafepress for books.

(Found this while I was tagging old Livejournal posts and discovered the old link in my original post didn't work.)
bouteillebleu: (Default)
And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

Genesis 11:6-8, ESV

17:36 < oxfordgirl> ("....nothing that they propose to do will not be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language..."; and the TEACHER did say, "What the FUCK, man? I have been YEARS constructing that. Don't you fucking start."; and the MERCHANT did say, "Okay, no, look, multiple currencies were enough. Don't. Just don't."...)
17:37 < oxfordgirl> (and the SMITH was all like, "No, sorry, perfect community requires monolinguistic intercomprehensibility, also, I will CUT you," and the HUNTRESS was too busy giggling about mooncups to pay attention; and the WEAVER did slink therefore into a corner and say, "Sorry, guys, it was just an idea...")

#maelfroth, 17/06/2009
bouteillebleu: (Pocket watch)
Two bottles of Lucozade have enough caffeine to make my hands hurt, and keep me up way too late. Thus, instead of sleep, you get my notes for an essay about metaphysical reasons for a game system to have a single language (as opposed to the OOC reason of "it is far, far easier to physrep").

Notes. Should be relatively free of FOIP, unless 'Bluebottle was a linguist once upon a time' is FOIP. )
bouteillebleu: (Pocket watch)
I've found a new blog to read - Higgaion, which is mostly about Biblical scholarship (and occasionally about the Mac).

And, as a bonus, it had a link to a fun quiz on there, to find out which ancient language you are.

This is posted mostly for [livejournal.com profile] rochvelleth's benefit. As you can see, it includes Linear B in there... )
bouteillebleu: (colour terms)
I want a Stroop Effect T-shirt - the classic psychological experiment with names of colours written in a different colour.

Alas, I can't find a Munsell chart T-shirt. I'd imagine it might be somewhat expensive to get such a thing printed (at least, in good enough quality).

Words Affect Our Reality - On The Right. Some research done in February '06 about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. The best comment is the first:

And all this time I thought the Worf hypothesis was just "Today is a good day to die.".

...the Whorf hypothesis holds for the right visual field, but not the left.

Apparently the left visual field is "without honor".
bouteillebleu: (Pomowned)
Need to make a Kingdom of Loathing icon at some point.

I was thinking on the way back from work about how I view Jesus and the Ancient Greek pantheon as mythic figures, and about how the Bible works as mythology. This was inspired by Nightwish's "Gethsemane" today - listening to it, I realised the parallels between Jesus in the Bible and heroic figures in fantasy fiction. (This then led me to wonder, while at the gym, if Jesus could be considered to follow a samurai code of honour; then again, dying for your master is one thing, but dying for the entirety of humankind is not quite what giri is there for.)

Somewhat irreverently, I wonder what Jesus would be like as a Bushido character?

I need to find some sort of grammar for Middle English (circa Chaucer, naturally) or Early Modern English (circa Shakespeare - I believe it was Early Modern, then, but will have to check in textbooks that are under my bed) to figure out what's acceptable for "archaic" English. I can decline "thou" fine, but am not sure how to conjugate verbs with different endings. I'd like to be able to rant with authority.

And one of Slactivist's recent posts, Protectors of the Faith, has some excellent comments about the interaction of science and religion. I liked this one by Skamandros:

"God likes physics. He like it more than he likes us. If a situation arises where he has to choose between violating the laws of hydrostatics and letting hundreds of thousands of people die in an instant, you better run to the high ground."
bouteillebleu: (open book)
For anyone who reads this journal and might be interested in buying linguistics books in Cambridge, I have a lot of them to sell now I've graduated.

List of books, with prices offered. )
bouteillebleu: (Default)
I just had one of those moments where I realised the world is smaller than I think.

I was reading through old threads on Making Light, specifically the one about the Atlanta Nights hoax. In the middle somewhere, the Da Vinci Code was brought up as an example of a very bad first sentence to a novel, and a review of it confirmed that the rest of it is just as bad.

Then I looked at who'd written the review, and it was someone who'd also written a very funny book on linguistics called The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax.

From Atlanta Nights to linguistics in two steps. It's not a link I ever expected to make.
bouteillebleu: (Pocket watch)
I've just finished an essay on the transmission of the Iliad and the Odyssey during antiquity, and G. P. Goold's article on Homer and the development of the Greek alphabet has wonderful footnotes. I quote parts of a few of them below. (Hopefully the best parts.)

Cut because very few of my friends list are classics geeks like me. )

And the last line (minus the quotation), describing Homer as compared to his predecessors whose poetry was not recorded in writing:

He is Tiresias, and even in the land of the hereafter can speak to the generations of eternity; they are the merest shadows, without name as without voice.
bouteillebleu: (When we invaded Rome)
I really need to stop making animated usericons. My icon page is beginning to make me dizzy.

I've figured out a vague theme for the title of last year's NaNo - something involving doors, which was one of the ideas I originally had that sparked off the magic system. (Not much remains of that original idea, though.) The working title is thus now "Threshold", which will probably be the title for a long while yet since it takes too much effort to think up a better one.

Am working on a long list of plot holes in After Forever, and beginning to see that I'll need to rewrite immediately once I finish it. I'll finish it before rewriting, though, since then I'll have something definite to rewrite. And I do need to get used to the discipline of actually finishing a story.

The "thoughts on university" were prompted by talking to a friend, and also thinking about advice I once read, along the lines of "only work on what you're interested in". This presents a problem, as often I'm not all that interested in what I've got to do. At least, I'm often not interested in sitting down and reading textbooks. Once I've started some of the reading, I can work from there, and when I know enough to write an essay plan I can work out an essay from there. Finding something to capture my attention is hit and miss, though.

Read more... )

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects." -- Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love. [Emphasis mine.]
bouteillebleu: (Eye)
A few days ago I found a page that had an mp3 version of a track that amused me when I first heard it - Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" and "Someday" edited and combined. They harmonise very well together, frighteningly well in fact. Read more about it (and listen to it) here.

On Monday the only people who turned up for Korean class were me and our teacher, so we spent an hour or so talking about Korean food and British university marking systems. He also recommended a useful way of practising my Korean - keeping a journal each day. I'm considering doing this for Japanese as well, because my Japanese vocabulary is far better than my Korean vocabulary, while my grammar is probably more shaky. At least I have A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Sentence Patterns to fall back on. I'm also tempted to do this with all the languages I know, just to keep my hand in... but then I'd end up writing six short journal entries a day, and my hands have to have some rest at some point.

As if six languages (other than English) weren't enough, I'm tempted to learn Finnish. It's an agglutinating language, quite highly inflected as well (which somehow hasn't phased me, even though the way I've learnt about language typology usually separates languages into either inflecting, isolating or agglutinating), to the point of having fifteen nominal cases. Whee. Of course, these cases are in place of prepositions or postpositions, which makes sense. It's not an Indo-European language either, which makes it both interesting and difficult, though it does have quite a few loan words from Indo-European languages. There's an interesting introductory website that I glanced at, but in order to actually learn anything I'd need a textbook of some sort. I'll wait until a reasonably cheap one presents itself, or I get one from a library.

それでは、はじめます。 テーマがないけど、話します。私に宿題がありますから、明日勉強します。それにしても小説をよみます。その本の名前は『Gardens of the Moon』であって、作者はスティベンエリクソン。[livejournal.com profile] theblunderbussは私に本を推せんした。

(So, let's start. I don't have a topic, but I'll talk anyway. Since I have homework to do, tomorrow I'm studying. Even so, I'll be reading a book. The book's name is 'Gardens of the Moon', and the author is Steven Erikson. theblunderbuss recommended the book to me.)

I'd add a Korean entry, as that was most of the point of doing foreign-language paragraphs, but it's far too late for me to spend half an hour slaving over what'll end up as two badly-written sentences.

내일아침에강의다니서, 오늘밤치금아요. (Because I have a lecture tomorrow morning, I'm going to bed now.)

And not a moment too soon, either. (I annoyed Semagic with this post - it won't let me enter something that's not UTF-8, and thus balks at the Japanese and Korean.)
bouteillebleu: (Kirika and tea // Noir)
First full draft of semantics dissertation done! Nearly. I have two paragraphs that I need an article for, and only two libraries in Cambridge have the journal it's in (and neither of them are near me). So on Monday I'll get the article from Experimental Psych and finish it. Until then, I'll use this weekend to write, sketch, and work on job applications and my Springboard workbook.

o/~ These are a few of my favourite games... o/~ )
bouteillebleu: (Default)
Dissertation's coming on reasonably well. Just passed 4400 words today, though I'm getting near to the end. At least I've got whole paragraphs about studies that I've only put in a sentence on so far, and I've still got another section, the introduction and conclusion to do - so I should manage to hit the 8,000-10,000 word criterion by the time I've actually finished it.

Still waiting for Katamari Damacy to arrive from the eBay seller, though it seems like I won't be playing it a lot - once the dissertation's done, I'm going to be going very light on my hands to give them some more time to heal.

And reading through random files on my computer has just given me a plan. From now on, if I ever feel angsty about life and so on, I shall write fiction rather than keeping a journal. Good lord, but my journal was full of self-indulgent angst.

The entry in question was written two years and a day ago (in a text file, not on LJ). I apologise to anyone I was spouting this angst to at the time, particularly one person who got the brunt of it... actually, let's be fair, it was just one person I was spouting angst at. Life's changed somewhat since then, for the better, and certain changes have made it much easier for me to talk rather than angst.

So, in general, I am a (mostly) happy bunny. My schedule's much more free this year, which could be a good or a bad thing - we Linguistics finalists are left very much to our own devices, and all we have to do is choose exam topics, read lots and lots on them, arrange supervisions and write essays. Next term I'll have... sixteen supervisions, I now realise. Just like last year. Whoops. (Only with more reading.) Maybe I ought to start panicking again, then.

On a happier note, the Gregorian - Masters of Chant albums are hilarious. (Though I maintain that you should not have soloists in Gregorian chant versions of pop songs. Oh, and Nothing Else Matters is probably the best of their tracks.)
bouteillebleu: (Arcueid in a bucket // Tsukihime)
This is what I get for browsing the shelves in the Linguistics section of the UL. I found a book called The Linguistic Analysis of Jokes by Graham Ritchie (published in 2004). It's not interesting in itself, but it did have one joke in the appendix that I quite liked.

I'd written it out, and then I discovered that the author of the book actually got it from www.jokesgallery.com, which meant I needn't have bothered.

So instead of writing it out, I present:

Silent Battle With The Pope.

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