Luis Antin van Rooten's Mots D'Heures is at first glance abstract (bordering on the nonsensical) French poetry ..
But is actually a homophonic translation of English nursery rhymes - that is, if you read the French aloud, it sounds as if you're reading the rhyme.
Un petit d'un petit
S'étonne aux Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu'importe un petit d'un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes.
The effort is in making the French poetry make any sense, which van Rooten (a Hollywood character actor in his spare time) does admirably.
Using the desktop browser version of Google Translate, click on the listen/speaker icon below the French text in the left side panel
Et qui rit des curés d'Oc?
De Meuse raines, houp! de cloques.
De quelles loques ce turque coin.
Et ne d'ânes ni rennes,
Écuries des curés d'Oc.
I speak French, and did not immediately recognize "Un petit d'un petit" as "Humpty Dumpty"; the "correct" reading relies on knowing that a native French-speaker might pronounce "hump" as "ump". It is not simply a mapping of syllables to phonemes.
In other words, it's an extremely targeted joke, intended at people who have specific expectations about how both French and English are read and spoken.
Eh, did you notice there's no h in 'ere?
It's 'cos they left it in h'Ottawa.
Another joke we have refers to how the French pronounce the English word "happiness."
What's interesting about internet meme culture (back then and to this day) is that it's quite Dadaist.
It's not hard to find highly opinionated people making assumptions while confidently believing they're right. If you look closely, you'll notice this all the time on HN and Reddit and basically anywhere that allows people to comment.
The scary thing is that many readers will also often take anything said confidently enough to be fact. This is also basically how a lot of disinformation works. Say it authoritatively, and you'll become an authority on the matter to many people.
I've definitely been guilty of doing both of these things past, but I've learned now to actually read and think and do research before commenting or taking something I read at face-value.
C'est la vie. The internet allows millions of people to opine on barstools.
It might simply be that our standards for the written word were too high before as it required a large investment to write/print/distribute a magazine or book.
It may be interesting if there was a social media platform that exerted some sophisticated control over the manner in which this phenomenon plays out. If adequately successful, the way "la vie" is, would then be different.
Do you take a possibility
you can be both right and
wrong? The feat might not
be as difficult as author
seems it is. I personally
can think of many ways to
achieve it. Come to think
of it, it may actually be
even easier because lines
in that guide afford more
ways to be broken because
they are longer. And I am
not even native speaker.
To match lengths you only
need to make one or maybe
two choices per line only
to adjust a word by maybe
one or two chars. This is
nothing very difficult as
any crossword solver will
It's simple to fulfil the requirements, making it flow naturally is not. Also, any mistake early on in any paragraph will have cascading effects.
Do you think its possible
you can be both right and
wrong? The feat might not
be as crazy as the author
claims to think. I myself
can think of many ways to
achieve it. Come to think
of it, it may actually be
even easier because lines
in that guide afford more
ways to be broken because
they are longer. I am not
even a native speaker.
I think the most "simultaneously observed forms" were brick-text with an acrosticon down the left-most column, or brick-text in iambic pentameter. I have attempted observing all tree, if ended badly.
As somebody said, I am just a
random guy on the Internet. I
learned this language already
as an adult never attending a
single lesson. There is a lot
of other people that know the
language way better than me.
Thinking that it must be hard
just because it is for you is
a well known bias.
Gigablah, I can't reply to your comment because apparently I am rate limited.
I am not saying it is easy. I am just saying it is not "most scarily/stunningly impressive linguistic feat".
I hope you can appreciate there is a lot of space between "easy" and "stunningly impressive".
It is easy to do this. All you
do is write some text upfront,
and go line by line and swap a
few words to make the line fit
in the margin. Use small words
to make it easier.
I can even think of an entire industry dedicated to countering this bias.
1. Sounds like cutesy little throw-away dance with nowhere near the gravitas of a Beethoven or Mahler
2. Listen closely and hear that the phrases are written purposefully so that the music sounds bad when the musicians choose to obey the repeat signs. In other words-- the music flows beautifully if you ignore the repeat signs, but that flow is broken when you obey them and go back to the beginning of the phrase.
3. Musical jokes later in the piece depend on the players actually taking the "wrong warp" repeats
4. Listen closely and realize that Mozart actually left out the main melody of the piece. (In fact, that melody finally appears only once at the end of the piece)
5. Listen more closely and realize that one of the subsequent main melodies are based off the accompaniment figure for the missing main melody
6. Listen even more closely and hear the striking dissonances and imitative polyphony that is exactly the kind of thing admirers talk about wrt Beethoven, Mahler, etc.
7. Remember that it's difficult enough to write a cutesy little throw-away dance in the style of Mozart, much less pull off all these formal experiments with such subtlety that most modern performances continue to play this music as if it's just a cutesy little throw-away dance
And that's just a random example. For a specific example: if Beethoven had written the Introitus of the Requiem Mass instead of Mozart, it would count as the most sophisticated counterpoint that Beethoven had ever written. (And there are probably more impressive examples of Mozart's counterpoint than that.)
1: last movement of String Quartet in E-Flat Major, K. 428
For the author to be a "Mozart" (as in the historical figure, not the myth) you'd need to show a richness of the author's approaches that makes the reader aware of the challenges of and breadth of the field. Something like this:
* the brute force justification of monospaced text by creative word choices
* the brute force justification of monospaced text by creative word choices which follow a rhyming scheme
* the brute force justification of monospaced text by creative word choices which follow a (line-based and paragraph-based) rhyming scheme
* the brute force justification of monospaced text by creative word choices which follow an intricate rhyming scheme where certain paragraphs are mashups of archaic German verse and 1970s gospel lyrics
Oops, wait... there are also some patterns of words where the pattern is written twice, but punctuation was inserted in a seemingly arbitrary place so that I didn't even notice the repetition on the first reading. Something like, "One two three four one. Two three four." Except each sentence was grammatically and contextually correct. Mozart did stuff like that-- there's an example somewhere in the clarinet concerto but I can't remember where.
1: I mean, there's no law against using the mythical Mozart here. But I imagine we'd be trolled by HN'ers if we did that regularly with, say, von Neumann or Einstein.
1. missles instead of missiles
2. carefull instead of careful
3. futher instead of further
But they're at least all consistent so there's plausible deniability that the author just didn't know English that well. And ofc the tweets are still on-point saying that it's an impressive and unappreciated feat.
Search missile, there are 0 results. Search missle and there are 217.
The consistent and plentiful usage makes me strongly believe it’s just how the author thought the word is spelt, not a cheap way to get their preferred formatting.
> help it along
Does it actually help them along if it’s that many items? It’s hard for me to imagine that 217 instances of a 6 letter word instead of a 7 letter word is much easier to format. My view is that trial and error, obsessively rewriting sentences to fit, is much more likely.
EDIT to clarify: what I mean is that I don’t think there was a master plan where words were misspelt to make this work. I think it’s rather brute forces with a lot of obsessive time and effort. Not in a bad way of course, I really enjoy what they did.
EDIT2: especially when rocket is already a 6 letter word, and likely could be used interchangeably in the guide. I feel that turning missile into one as well wouldn’t help the goal in the slightest, would only make it more difficult.
I have never done this to anything as long as that manual (partly as I simply both don't let myself type things that are that long in a monospace presentation font and also try very hard to resist the temptation to ever, under any circumstance, manually word wrap text).
I think I should be glad that I rarely write long texts in monospaced fonts. I can't unsee that perfectly aligned game guide.
It's not too difficult, lines have enough words that there's always something you can change. After a while, as you approach the right margin, you can feel whether the rest of the sentence will fit, and you rephrase it as you write.
I see OP more as a feat of tenacity than of brilliance.
I think the interesting lesson here is that if you find yourself in the position of the tweet's author you should be thinking "Hm, maybe writing blocktext is easier than I'd expect" rather than "I have discovered an unsung linguistic genius".
The skills required are similar to those for writing in metre: have a decent vocabulary and a good feel for the different ways to structure an idea, plus a small bag of tricks for adding or removing a syllable / character.
> have a decent vocabulary and a good feel
> for the different ways to structure an idea
Interestingly, some of the best-known examples of people like this are all physicists: Einstein, and Hawking, and Feynman especially.
Thousands consecutively would 'just' take thousands of times longer, it'd be O(n), I just don't have any desire to do that, it's not fun for me.
"Whoa, this is nuts: This Super Metroid walkthrough has monospace text that is manually justified through WORD CHOICE ALONE. [link]"
There. Was that so hard? And they still get to yell.
For my 2012 IOCCC entry , I spent many many hours tweaking the syntax and ordering of code to get the uniform looking layout.
Which I ended up doing many times over every time I found a way to shorten the code. One can play with the total height, width of the arms, and height of the arms, to try to get back to uniformity.
I expect many other IOCCC authors have had similar experiences.
The most impressive linguistic feat I've ever seen was on a Mastodon, which was named for the French writing group "Oulipo", whose members did work with constrained language. The work from this group you've most likely heard of (if you've heard of them at all) is George Perec's book "La Disparation", translated to English as "A Void", which does not (in either language) contain any word with the letter "E" in either case in it (so those of us who know at least a little French realize that means no "le" or "les"... wow...).
Anyway, this Mastodon was set up to implement the "no E" rule, and it was kind of a fun challenge to try to express yourself.
My posts (and most folks') was pretty tortured text.
The impressive bit was that there was a person there pursuing their Doctorate in Linguistics, and their posts... just read like ordinary English, with nothing tortured or strange about it. If you didn't know about the rule, you'd never guess it was in force. And they were fairly long, and covered a lot of ground... really amazing.
| Application Timezone
| Here you may specify the default timezone for your application, which
| will be used by the PHP date and date-time functions. We have gone
| ahead and set this to a sensible default for you out of the box.
in triplets, that rhyme in chain
for 100 chapters,
for 4711 triplets
I've read the English translation of La disparition and I'd note that (a) the act of translating a Lipogram is kind of its own special challenge (which might be also why the Spanish version chose to omit a instead of e—without e, a wide class of plurals and all third-person forms of to be are lost, although a rules out most feminine nouns) and (2) the writer/translator ends up building a vocabulary of standard circumlocution to avoid the forbidden letter, e.g., “this/that man” in place of “he.”
It’s a plain text guide to Super Metroid, manually justified via word choice.
It takes the author six tweets to get to the explanation. Like, get on with it, already.
Once in a while when composing an email, the first three lines or so just happen to have exactly the same length. I always take this as a challenge to continue this style for the remaining lines (no cheating with white spaces) and I have wasted (?) hours on this in the past.
Kept rewording it and changing punctuation until everything lined up near perfectly. I suspect that there are tons of people who worked in marketing or communications who have done this throughout the years. Especially back in the 80s and earlier, when text-heavy marketing was in fashion.
The game is so good! Compared to the other games in the emulator library, it’s like night and day.
I have no idea about other games in 1994, and how does it compare. Doom is one year earlier and it’s much more advanced, so, who knows.
It helps that it was among the later SNES games, so developers had more time to learn the hardware. Chrono Trigger (1995) is also one of the platform's best, most polished titles.
You feel pain while you're doing it, but you can't stop.
I'm glad therapy helped me.
I wrote all my status reports for work, commit comments, and quite a few emails in 'monospace full-just' for many years. I'm not sure why I stopped doing it habitually, though I still do it sometimes when I notice my messages naturally came out close to it. It may be just due to using the web more often, which seldom displays text with a monospace font.
I don't recall anyone ever noticing, nor did I expect them to.
Seeing another commenter mention BBSes in the mid-90s, perhaps that is where I picked up the practice.
The metroid text seems to change width periodically in varrious blocks, which is also a property of the monospace-full-just text that I wrote.
Ok so I get that it could be quiet
difficult to write sentences which
must be of a fixed length. However
hyperbolically calling it the most
scarily/stunningly linguistic feat
is ridiculous in the extreme. I am
certain that a person sufficiently
motivated, could produce a similar
document. Comparing something like
this to the work of Mozart is just
nonsense. I mean, I couldn't write
a piece of music like Mozart if my
life depended on it.
It's cool, to be sure, and Ive actually used the guide over the years, long before they were sold to Cnet/gamespot.
I really miss the old gamefaqs, some truly amazing finds and collaborations happened there, before it all became a C/P fest with re-hashed and re-mixed same guides over and over again. Or just info/pics pasted from other sites.
The ASCII art that was uaed and consigned back in the day was killer too.
I guess I'm just an Old Randy Marsh now, 'all this new stuff is crap warble warble!'
Is this confirmation bias? the moment someone makes a claim of excellence, or genius, instantly number of people realize "how it hit them"!!
This style of craftsmanship, embracing constraints and optimising for beauty or even whimsy, is something that is sadly often not possible now with the diverse presentation media we employ: in the past we would adapt the medium and presentation to the content, but we’ve shifted to mostly adapting the content and presentation to the medium.
A paper book had static presentation, and so you could tweak things to your heart’s desire; and if someone had bad eyesight, you could produce a larger version of it while keeping everything else intact, if you desired. One particularly good example of that is static paginations of certain Bible translations; for example, the KJV has a couple of extremely popular paginations, so that one person may have a small Bible with tiny text and another a large Bible with wide margins and large text, but they’ll still turn the page at the same time. (This can lead to church services where most of the audience turns the page during a reading of scripture at the same time!)
But in a digital world, your content needs to adapt to display on devices both tiny and huge, and you will have limited control of its presentation. Static layout like this Super Metroid guide no longer works: at 73 columns wide, it’s too small for display on portrait phone screens without introducing scrolling (awful), additional wrapping (ugly) or reflowing (losing the craftsmanship, and impossible to do fully automatically anyway).
Responsive design is all about embracing the fact that you don’t know the medium, and working with that. And yes, it lets you do some nice previously-impossible stuff and work better on a diverse range of devices, but it also loses something.
I once noticed, part way through writing an essay in school, that I had started the last three lines with the letter w; I ran with it and made every line for the rest of the essay start with the letter w.
I could go on to talk of a great many more things where we’ve lost something over the techniques of old due to low-quality computerisation of something formerly done by experts; but also that better computerised alternatives are often available which claw back some or most of the deficit, typically by more deliberately attempting to imitate what the experts did rather than doing the easiest thing; greedy line-breaking is nigh ubiquitous, but there is also Knuth-Plass; most computerised music engraving is fairly atrocious, but LilyPond exists.
I miss using <tables> and 1px invisible GIFs to create pixel-perfect web layouts from Photoshop. But there's also something to be said for creating a perfectly re-arranging fluid layout.
This reminds me of old time military documents - they were peculiarly orthodox and notably very clear.
When someone can write, they just.. can. We mere mortals, only read, in awe..
I don't care for it myself.
Sometimes you'll see them numbered like /1, or if the author knows how many there will be in advance, 1/13, 2/13, etc.
It's not uncommon to put a separate link in many of the individual tweets in the series.
I guess that's one of the trick to shorten a line of text.
But for the love of god, stop complaining about. Every. Single. Post.
> Please don't complain about website formatting, back-button breakage, and similar annoyances. They're too common to be interesting.
Then stop using Twitter as a way to write longform. :)
>It’s a plain text complete guide to Super Metroid, which is _manually_ fully justified… via word choice.
Maybe he had to create a typo here or there to keep things fully justified.
Because they don't care? Why should they?
It's nice to take an interest in what other people do, and to show that you're interested, even if it isn't something you'd do yourself. It's the kind thing to do. Kindness is an admirable quality in people. Asking "why should anyone care?" shows a lack of understanding of that.
Plus, time enjoyed is never time wasted, and clearly the author of the guide had a lot of fun with this.
Like, an acrostic, or Bach hiding his initials in the notes. Also, it's not formatting. :)
As for the downvote, I have no idea! It seems this is a divisive topic -- my first comment, above, must have raised many's ire. Also, I think asking why you are downvoted is also verboten. (see: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) shrug
Chapter 2: 18 justified lines. "missles" for "missiles" but is consistent throughout.
Chapter 3: 61 justified lines. "missles" consistent again. "limitid" for "limited" (same length). "powerfull"/"usefull", yes, but again looks to be consistent throughout. "liek" for "like" (same length). "essentail" for "essential" (same length).
Chapter 4: 88 justified lines. "missles" and double "l" consistent. "mroph" for "morph" (same length). "eleminate" for "eliminate" (same length). "insure" for "ensure" (same length). "wreckless" for "reckless" but in a non-justified line.
Ought to be possible to test this hypothesis (is the justification done by conditional misspellings?) with some simple scripting.
edit: however, it appears that's not what the author did.
A couple of missed words or odd linguistic choices, but compared to the number of lines, not many.
The one specific misspelling that the tweeter points out is consistent throughout.
I think you're right, the misspellings are independent. For a few words (like "begining") the text contains the correct and a misspelt word. But for most misspelt words ("carefull" for example) the text contains only the misspelling.
Thus, the text being fully justified is independent of the misspelling.
The document being an in depth write up of Super Metroid probably also says something about the person's character!
Really, scarily, stunningly? When words are used this way they lose their meanings.
And the comparison to Mozart? My God. How insulting to the compsoser.
Clearly, this guy hasn’t seen much.
03. What program did you use to justify the text?
None. I just chose words carefully so that everything lined up on the
right hand side. Everything was done with an ASCII editor.
I manually justify paragraphs of monospace text the exact same way all the time, for my code and git commits. It's an added cognitive burden that should ideally be automated by M-q in Emacs or something.
With WordNet we can get a good thesaurus for permuting words. Combine that with CMUDict and IsleDict and we can even reshape the text into something like iambic pentameter.