Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad English (or: when I read your lyrics)

This is my pitch for received grammar and syntax lessons.
Yes, yes, subcultures have viable and legitimate ways to express concepts.
Having said that, a single standard prevents groups from remaining isolated solitudes.

Mandarin and Cantonese are largely mutually incomprehensible.
Apparently their written forms are much more similar.

Without proper central instruction in English, kids are forced to learn from pop culture.
Sure, there is the occasional TV show writer that uses whom correctly. Sadly, usually even when the educational background of the character does not warrant it (Bones...).

And then... there are lyrics.
I understand one must sometimes shoehorn a word to fit the beat of a song.
However, often a simple rephrasing would have sufficed.

Haha! A site by pedants, for pedants. And I could have been the president! <:
Justin Timberlake's, "What goes around"
The Lyrics:
When you cheated girl, my heart bleeded girl.
It should be my heart "bled."

Gwen Stefani's, "Rich Girl"
The Lyrics:
If I was a rich girl.
That's wrong. It's supposed to be "If I WERE a rich girl".
Submitted by: G. Mag
D: Gwen can do whatever she wants... mmmm.

Kid Rock's, "All Summer Long"
The Lyrics:
"We didn't have no internet"
Double negative - yes he did have no internet, it was 1989!
D: I hear this at work. English has so many places to place a negative indicator.

The Killers', "When You Were Young"
The Lyrics:
"every once and a while"
it should be "every once IN a while"

Nickelback's, "Believe it Or Not"
The Lyrics:
Believe it or not everyone have things that they hide
everyone HAS things that they hide. It does that the entire song and annoys me SOOO much!!
D: this resembles confusion over whether a noun is collective or not.
Seagulls would be plural. A flock of seagulls is not.
(Note the weakness in my own writing - I tend to shift verb tenses too much!)

Savage Garden's, "Truly, Madly, Deeply"
The Lyrics:
I want to lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me
It's LIE, not LAY!
D: here is how I remember this one. Lay is something I do to somebody else, LOL!

English quirk of the day:

advice vs advise | accept vs except | affect vs effect | a lot/alot/allot
all ready vs already | all right vs alright | alone vs lonely
altogether vs all together | any vs some | apart vs a part
And the list goes on and on and on and...
P.S.: vs., not vs or v.s..

Monday, September 22, 2008

economical use of pixels in fonts

http://cg.scs.carleton.ca/~luc/PHOTOALBUM/daniel_pelavin_test_1996.jpg (pic)

http://www.gwywyr.com/articles/scimaths/3x3.html (pic)


D: the third web site shows how we have been spoiled with post-SVGA very high resolution monitors. We assume we can indefinitely scale a Truetype font, and the pixel count will support it. But this places a cap on how small a legible symbol can be.
I show above examples of a 3x3 font that is *just* legible.
Early computer fonts were only 5x8 - see Atari stuff.
Then we went to 8x12.


Because my Hioxian system uses an alphanumeric display layout, it doesn't work below a certain pixel resolution. In my case, I think 5x8 was *just* sufficient. It would be incredibly chunky.
At the size of a computer monitor pixel, the details would blur together.
Still, it is interesting to ponder just how minimal and spartan a font can be and still function.

Aside: I was talking to buddy Rick H., a computing prof at WLU, about 3D displays. I started thinking about that movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster. OK, I started thinking about Foster first, LOL! Anyway, I read the book too - I thought the movie was more concise and focused. The alien font is difficult for the protagonists to decipher. They finally realize that aliens use a 3D layout v.s. 2D like ourselves. I have to assume they have sweet 3D displays using circular polarization, like our latest ZScreen technology. It would seem that those aliens are related to that freaky mutant of our world, the Mantis Shrimp. It is the only living thing we know that can see and meaningfully use circular polarized light.
I thought it would be fun to turn that alien alphabet part of that movie into real 3D.
I admit I am intrigued by the potential of using 3D info to increase data density in a font.
The high end circular polarized 3D tech is only now coming onto the market, and a decent display runs 5000bux. But we could be on the very cusp of a dramatic change in the way we present computer information. It is pretty cool to think of that!

Friday, September 19, 2008

computer translation interlingua, problem with natural languages


"So far all approaches to solve the multilingual component have run into serious difficulties...Other approaches set out to use one language (almost always English) as a pivot. Again the results were held back, this time because the use of a natural language as an interlanguage occasions ambiguity. As the researchers note, early attempts at using a natural reference language to build machine translation systems go back 20 years ago, and the results were no good."

D: the con-lang (controlled natural language) approach has shown some promise.
Attempto is a good example, and one I've studied.


Attempto Controlled English (ACE) is a controlled natural language, i.e. a rich subset of standard English designed to serve as specification and knowledge representation language. ACE allows users to express professional texts precisely, and in the terms of their respective application domain. As any language, ACE must be learned to be used competently, but this amounts to learning the differences between ACE and full English, formulated as a small set of ACE construction and interpretation rules. Once written, ACE texts can be read and understood by anybody.

ACE appears perfectly natural, but — being a controlled subset of English — is in fact a formal language. ACE texts are computer-processable and can be unambiguously translated into discourse representation structures, a syntactic variant of first-order logic.

D: this removes some of the impressiveness of Lojban, which makes a similar claim (wiki source).

Lojban (pronounced [ˈloʒban]) is a constructed, syntactically unambiguous human language based on predicate logic. Its predecessor is Loglan, the original logical language by James Cooke Brown.

D: finally, as an aside, I'll note A++, which is a learning tool to understand computer programming. One deals in the most rudimentary concepts, and composite concepts are clearly indicated as such.

A++ stands for abstraction plus reference plus synthesis which is used as a name for the minimalistic programming language that is built on ARS.

ARS is an abstraction from the Lambda Calculus, taking its three basic operations, and giving them a more general meaning, thus providing a foundation for the three major programming paradigms: functional programming, object-oriented programming and imperative programming.

ARS Based Programming is used as a name for programming which consists mainly of applying patterns derived from ARS to programming in any language.

D: the book is online.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

humour of english word boundaries, phrasing


  1. Who Represents is where you can find the name of the agent that represents any celebrity. Their Web site is

  2. Experts Exchange is a knowledge base where programmers can exchange Advice and views at

  3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

  4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

  5. There's the Italian Power Generator company,

  6. And don't forget the Mole Station Native Nursery in New South Wales,

  7. If you're looking for IP computer software, there?s always

  8. The First Cumming Methodist Church Web site is

  9. And the designers at Speed of Art await you at their wacky Web site,

  • Grandmother of eight makes hole in one
  • Deaf mute gets new hearing in killing
  • Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers
  • House passes gas tax onto senate
  • Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan
  • Two convicts evade noose, jury hung
  • William Kelly was fed secretary
  • Milk drinkers are turning to powder
  • Safety experts say school bus passengers should be belted
  • Quarter of a million Chinese live on water
  • Farmer bill dies in house
  • Iraqi head seeks arms
D: similar Esperanto ambiguous words...

Esperanto Meaning A Meaning B
"a purchase" "a contemptible little thing"
"to alternate" "to sneeze at"
"avarice" "a group of grandfathers"
"a diet" "a minor deity"
"age of dignity" "a swim in a dike"
"an exterior" "a former world"
"an accomplishment" "a group of elves"
"a daughter" "dirty linen"
"a galley" "a drop of bile"
"a colleague" "a big neck"
"a pumpkin" "a city of cakes"
"lavendery" "in need of cleaning"
"an oxeye daisy" "someone licking"
"a casserole" "a sea-tale"
"a modulation" "a fashionable guy"
"a ream of paper" "a papal mistake"
"a person" "a sounding-out"
"pretend" "needing to be ready"
"speed" "a turnip-sprout"
"regular" "aristocratic"
"re-seeing" "child of a daydream"
"a sardine" "a Sardinian woman"
"sensitive" "without theme"
"sugar" "a drop of juice"
"urine" "an aurochs cow"

Then there is the English ambiguity in such statements such as the one that follows, due to imprecise use word ordering.

"Men don't like to talk about their relationships with each other."
as opposed to
"Men don't like to talk to each other about their relationships."

D: I'd like to contrast this with the (soon to be released!) Decimese.
Syllable construction: for most vocabulary, exempting function words, consonant-vowel (CV).
Increasing levels of detail: consonant1-(vowel), consonant2-(vowel) etc. (C1VC2V...)
Verbal and written shorthand (this is 'informal slang' for when the full word in understood by context apparent in a situation, or from introducing the word earlier. Much like we might say "George" and then use "he" for the rest of the conversation.)
Function words have 'free-hanging end vowels'. That is to say, they use a variable form of vowels to indicate they are not embedded within the middle of a standard vocabulary word.
Similarly, voiced/voiceless consonant pairs denote the start of middle of a word.
Finally the termination of the word is a nasal consonant 'cap'. N, NG, or M.
Ergo standard vocabulary has the form CVCV....CV(nasal).
Word order indicates noun, verb and adjective/adverb.

I'd like to share a funny personal anecdote. A few years ago I experimented with online dating.
I agreed to meet this local goth girl. The night before she sends me a link to her website.
She was a pagan and her site was called Freak's Haven.
However she did not use capitals or punctuation or spacing.
So what I saw was freakshaven.
It could be "freak's haven".
Or... freak ... shaven?!
I had no idea what I was getting into, LOL!

What would that have looked like in Decimese?
First of all the word order would have indicated either
1) shaven freak or
2) freak who shaves/did shave etc.
1) adjective- noun or
2) subject- verb.

I expect there will still be plays on words.
Using a shortened slang term normally reserved for another word can still be used for humour, for insults, for double entendres.
So subcultures will still be able to define themselves from mainstream culture by not using received-truncation forms taught in school.
E.g. Instead of C1VC8V(nasal) for a certain word, they could resort to C3VC8V(nasal).

Trivia: 95% of languages use either post or preposition in clauses, despite other theoretically available options.
I may end up treating prefixes/suffixes word modifiers in the same grammatical class in this fashion.
It is unusual to effectively allocate such concepts to essentially 'closed class function word' categories, but for many generic concepts, it might be desirable.
For example, quasi- para- pseudo- demi-...

I am still pondering embedding clause/phrase heads in a word.
I *could* use consonant clusters, limited to (C plus L/R or W/Y), with the LRWY + vowel being a permutation generator) but this would preclude using those 2 pairs in consonant clusters for 2 simple binary states such as is /isn't and such.