0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

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Tolchok
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Tolchok » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:43 am UTC

GHZ wrote:But, the whole middle 2/3s of Anathem, especially the random philosophy is just bad. It just doesn't make sense mostly. I'm kind of shocked. I'm a professional physicist, working in the area of quantum computing, and I found the discussions of computers, technology, etc... in Cryptonomicon and Baroque Cycle to be excellent, in fact those books taught me some new stuff about topics I thought I knew. But, the physics-inspired philosophy of Anathem is just wrong. To take an example, there is the comment about using quantum computers to solve travelling salesman. In fact, there's no reason to believe that they can do this in polynomial time. Certainly no one can prove they can't, because no one can even prove that classical computers can't, but we at least know that you can't just create a superposition of solutions and pick the one which works, which is what is claimed to happen in the book. This is just one example, it's really all pretty off, and I don't know what happened in this book compared to all his previous ones. Btw, I did like the philosophical discussions in Baroque Cycle, so it's not that I don't like philosophy..



Well, Stephenson's hardly the first one to suggest a Nondeterministic Turing Machine via quantum computing. And there is reason to suppose that given an NTM like you just described, you can do it in polynomial time. It's NP-Hard=Non-Polynomial Hard. Meaning that you can do it in polynomial time with an NTM. Of course, I'm sure the proof is something I wouldn't understand.

PS I haven't actually read Anathem, but I'd like to. I really liked the Waterhouse/Shaftoe parts of Cryptonomicon/Baroque Cycle, but hated Eliza.
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Dibley
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Dibley » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:45 am UTC

Tolchok wrote:Summer Glau, is that you?

Keep in mind, I can kill you with my brain.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby vodka.cobra » Mon Oct 13, 2008 3:49 am UTC

Dibley wrote:
Tolchok wrote:Summer Glau, is that you?

Keep in mind, I can kill you with my brain.

Well, now I lol'd.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby scarletmanuka » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:59 am UTC

I found this thread interesting, not least since at the time I read it I had taken out from the library, but not yet read, "Eragon". Now I've read it. :) I don't think you can attack Paolini on these grounds: it's supposed to be a different language not spoken by anyone, of course he had to make up words for it. You can, of course, attack him on the grounds that he didn't put much effort into it (as Dibley pointed out earlier in the thread). Or, indeed, that the novel as a whole was of uneven quality and not very original. Still, it was reasonably entertaining. I'd probably rate it at about "C+: Would read again sometime but not buy."
The Scyphozoa wrote:
SwissArmyAnts wrote:Christopher Paolini, beware.

Indeed. He isn't just making new languages, he's making new English words, too! And then zapping all our dictionaries to make it look like they were already there. For example: ululations. That is such an ass-word.

I still recall the first time I encountered the word "ululation". It was in a comic book version of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. I was probably around 7-10 at the time but I don't know for sure. It had an asterisk next to it with a definition at the bottom of the panel. I'm pretty sure that's the only time I ever learned a word from a comic book.

jjane wrote:I know A Clockwork Orange has already been mentioned, as well as the Ender series and 1984. How about the Foundation series?

I'm curious. Apart from "psychohistory" and derived words, I don't recall any made-up words in that. What words were you thinking of?

Anyway, I wanted to comment on Gradisil by Adam Roberts, which I also took out of the library on my last visit - I read it a day or two before reading this thread. The book takes place over three generations of a family and accordingly is divided into three parts. The first part is written in normal English. The second part is written in English with some spelling changes (mainly dropping the c from various combinations, particularly ck and xc, but also with some other simplifications (back->bak, except->exept, accept->axept). The third part is written in the same English as the second part, but with ng combinations replaced by the eng character. But these alterations do nothing whatsoever to enhance the story. We already know it's a different period by the material - what was a small settlement a few pages ago is now a thriving community and, of course, the child who was just born has suddenly become an adult and is narrating this section. We don't need random linguistic changes to rub our noses in the fact that it's now 30 years later. All they do is make it awkward and irritating to read.

I got another book by Adam Roberts on the same library visit; I haven't read that one yet, so I hope he doesn't play the same sort of games there.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Tropylium » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:23 pm UTC

As someone who has actually looked quite a bit into the specifics of conlanging, I believe the main problem is that the typical fantasy writer has a coolness scale where "graaz'zath" > "grazath" > "garzat". (Hint: the linguistic plausibility scale of these is the inverse.)

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby zombie_monkey » Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:50 pm UTC

Are you by any chance a zbber?

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arbivark
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby arbivark » Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:30 pm UTC

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=698#more-698

Here's another comment thread about the comic.
They call it Munroe's Law.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Hurduser » Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:48 am UTC

Why except Tokien the Bore from that in the alt text?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby jqavins » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:01 pm UTC

Dibley wrote:
Monika wrote:
jqavins wrote:Just once (and I mean it: once and only once) I'd like to see a book that goes to the extreme. Start off in an extant earthly language, e.g. English, introducing a few made up words. Introduce more and more words, and sentences that use more and more of them together, until the reader has learned a whole made up language, and finish the book completely in said language, with not a word of the original language in the last chapter or two. It would require an author who is both hell of a skilled writer and one mighty good linguist to not only make up a rich enough language but also teach it to the reader while spinning a yarn worth telling. But it would be truly awesome if someone could pull it off.

A more useful thing would be a book that starts out in $native_language_of_reader and progresses to $real_language_[s]he_wishes_to_learn.

The probablem with that is that you would not be able to introduce any changes to the grammar or morphology, and would have a great deal of trouble swapping out the "grammatical words" like articles, prepositions, etc... Basically, you would end up with a crude cipher of $native_language_of_reader.


Not so, I think. Consider, as a trivial and insignificant example, Yoda-speak. Get used to his word order, we did. Yoda used English vocabulary, but we could also have learned a few words of Yodese vocabulary, if his dialog writers had had the bad taste and judgment to include a few unnecessary bits of it; it would been annoying, but we'd have learned it, and at the same time as the word order. So, a non-trivial and significant example should be possible as well, albeit of rather herculean difficulty.

So, to anyone inclined to try, I say Qapla'.
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Sunidesus
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby Sunidesus » Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:28 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:If you want an exotic-sounding language, use topic-comment construction.


ASL is such a language. It doesn't exclusively use topic-comment, but that is one of the more common constructions. Of course it doesn't really sound like anything...

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby uffish » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:42 pm UTC

Nobody even mentioned Stanislav Lem! You have to read "The Futurological Congress", if you want to know how neologisms should be used.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby scarletmanuka » Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:03 am UTC

uffish wrote:Nobody even mentioned Stanislav Lem! You have to read "The Futurological Congress", if you want to know how neologisms should be used.


uh, yeah, because these people don't count:

zombie_monkey wrote:
suzi wrote:I'm reading The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem right now, and while I guess most of the words in it are easily-identifiable derivatives, it's a blast. (Also, I wonder how many of them are changed since the original language is Polish?) Crytochemocracy, benignimization, sadistizine, ecstasine, halcyonal, revivificarium, and of course psychem. And I'm only 50 pages in...

Ah, but Lem is a master of this, it's doesn't fit the comic's scheme because the whole humour is in this.


grs1961 wrote:Lear.
Lewis Carroll (The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson).
Lem.
...Look, the list gets ridiculously long.


chrisj wrote:
kigoldman wrote:According to this plot, The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem should be required reading. So what are you waiting for? READ IT!

But I have already :) many years ago in high school a friend and I called ourselves Trurl and Klapacius...


You fail at reading the thread.

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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby firinne » Wed Oct 29, 2008 3:46 am UTC

uosuaq wrote:I think the curve should be flipped left to right, and the legends should be "number of words made up by author" and "how good the book has to be to pull it off".


I smack you with lots of agreement, okay?

gavmeister
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby gavmeister » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:12 pm UTC

Just, so wrong. Shakespeare - made up a shed load of new words in every play. hmmmm seems pretty good to me. duuuuh.

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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby zombie_monkey » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:15 am UTC

Sorry for necroing the thread, but:

http://bigother.com/2010/06/04/language-and-science-fiction/

Relevant.

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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:16 am UTC

In my opinion creating new words should be banned. Who are these so-called writers to dare tamper with the language?
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby alexriehl » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:12 pm UTC

nitha wrote:What about Orson Scott Card and the ramen/framlings/varelse? Can he have an exception, too?
:/ I really love those books.

Ya missed utlanning. :D I love those books too. EDIT: Ninja'd. On page 1. /facepalm
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby SpringLoaded12 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:12 pm UTC

nitha wrote:What about Orson Scott Card and the ramen/framlings/varelse? Can he have an exception, too?
:/ I really love those books.

I hated when he came up with those words, used them in the books, and gave no explanation of them whatsoever (at least not in what I read).

gavmeister wrote:Just, so wrong. Shakespeare - made up a shed load of new words in every play. hmmmm seems pretty good to me. duuuuh.

You: "...made up a shed load of new words in every play."
Comic: "Probability book is good"
'Nuff said.

arbivark wrote:http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=698#more-698

Here's another comment thread about the comic.
They call it Munroe's Law.

I think there are now several statements called Munroe's Law, including this, a statistics-style wording of GOOMHR, and some others.
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Fixblor
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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby Fixblor » Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:25 pm UTC

SpringLoaded12 wrote:I think there are now several statements called Munroe's Law, including this, a statistics-style wording of GOOMHR, and some others.

Who or what is a "GOOMHR"? You just made that up.
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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby Monika » Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:14 pm UTC

Get out of my head, Randall.
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Fixblor
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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby Fixblor » Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:58 am UTC

( Sarcasm + Online ) * ( self-immolation / metaphor ) = I'm trolling

Note: that's a contraction not self minus immolation ... and I just did it.

Clarification, that's not what GOOMHR means ... you made that up!
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby BioTube » Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:36 pm UTC

gavmeister wrote:Just, so wrong. Shakespeare - made up a shed load of new words in every play. hmmmm seems pretty good to me. duuuuh.
Not necessarily - just because his plays are the first attestments of a number of words doesn't mean he made any of them up - it's likely they were already in currency. Besides, most of the plays survive today solely due to second-hand copies, so they're not necessarily accurate.
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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby pogrmman » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:10 am UTC

I know this is a SUPER necropost, but I just finished reading Anathem. I finally get the alt-text!

I actually liked it though, it's slow, but interesting. The plot is a little shallow, but I liked the debates and world building.

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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby dblume » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:33 pm UTC

In case anybody're going to re-read Anathem on Kindle, I recently made an Anathem Glossary .mobi file to download to the device's documents/dictionaries directory. That way, you can look up those words in situ. (Long ago, I made the mobile-device companion that's at the top level of where the mobi file is.) It's here: http://anathem.dlma.com/anathem-glossary.mobi

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Re: 0483: "Fiction Rule of Thumb"

Postby Monox D. I-Fly » Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:28 am UTC

I remember when I had to ask on English Forums what does "Splinched" mean only for them to say that it's just a term coined by J.K. Rowling.
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Re: "Fiction Rule of Thumb" Discussion

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:02 am UTC

CVSoul wrote:all this did was remind me how much Donaldson sucks at making up words.

I've only read his Thomas Covenant books, but I didn't find a single made-up word in them (aside from proper nouns and derived terms). I did find a lot of gratuitously obscure words - going well beyond what would make it onto a Scrabble word list - but flaunting your vocabulary is not the same as making up words.

---

While I'm here, one of my favourite authors for use of invented words (and languages) in their works is C J Cherryh - her Chanur series are set in a region of space with 7 (probably) different sentient races (all non-human) - the Hani language is presented as English (under the standard translation convention) except for loan-words from other languages, but those terms are generally untranslatable (but instantly recognisable as to which language they've come from) and the usage of the words illuminates the psychology of the race, and understanding the way a race thinks allows you to grok the fullness of the words' meanings.

Cherryh's gift is in making comprehensible aliens without resorting to humans-in-suits or entire species of hats, and the linguistics are just an aspect of that.


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