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[personal profile] dr_whom
I went to the state that the biggest city in this part of the world is in—but the "up" part of the state, not the part near that city—and listened to how people talk. I picked that state because it sits between four or five areas where people talk in different ways, and I wanted to find out where one way of talking ends and the next begins.

There's a sound change that a lot of people have in the cities near the Great Bodies of Water, where the sound in "cat" and "back" becomes very high, the sound in "hot" and "lock" becomes very front, and a few other sounds change too. In the state I was looking at, it turns out that a lot of people have this sound change even as far away as the right edge (so to speak) of the state—but the "cat" sound only becomes high in cities that were founded by people from the state that's further down and to the right, along the Sound. I think the reason the "cat" sound doesn't become that high in cities that were founded by people from other places might be because there's a bigger space between the "cat" sound and the "can't" sound in those cities, and the "can't" sound is already very high. This means that who founded which cities can still be important to how people talk even hundreds of years later.

Also, I found out that people in most parts of the state have different sounds in "hot" and "lock" on the one hand and in "caught" and "talk" on the other hand. The only part of the state where most people have the same sound in the middle of all of those words is the far top right corner. However, it looks like changes are happening that will end up with people saying them the same in most of the rest of the state; for younger people, the "hot" sound is a lot further back than it is for older people. I didn't expect that. But it shows that when two different sounds come to be said the same way in one area, it really is easy for that change to be picked up by people in other areas. Having that sound change I mentioned above, where "hot" became more front, doesn't stop them from picking up this other change; they just started moving "hot" back again.

Finally, I listened to how people say the long word that you use to talk about the kind of school that children between the ages of about five and ten go to. It turns out that in most of the state, except for the part near that one big city, they make the second-to-last bit of that word much stronger than people in most places (though the middle bit is still the strongest). That's kind of weird.

(see http://splasho.com/upgoer5)

Date: 2013-01-26 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ophblekuwufu.livejournal.com
Neat exercise.

I know I didn't make the rules for this game, but I still think it might be cheating (in a sense) when you use common words as terms of art, without defining them. "sound change" and "high" and "front" are obvious examples. I'd like to see how this changes if you restrict yourself not only to common words but to usages commonly associated with those words.

Date: 2013-01-26 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ophblekuwufu.livejournal.com
Sound is definitely cheating, yes.
I don't think "found" is cheating, though. I mean, yes, it is an academic term, but it's so closely related to the colloquial "found out" that I think it's fine. At worst you could add "out" to every instance of "found".

I think "higher in the mouth" is definitely better. It might also be good to explain "sound change" the first time you use it.
When you first use it, you say "a lot of people have a sound change". I think that's incomprehensible without additional knowledge.

Date: 2013-01-26 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ophblekuwufu.livejournal.com
Oh. Yes it is.
On the other hand, you use "founded", not just "found". The program let me use "writing" but not "writings", so I think it's not giving free reign to any variant of a word it allows. If it allowed "founded", it was either an actual error or it really meant it. Either way, not your fault.

Date: 2013-01-26 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ophblekuwufu.livejournal.com
That seems reasonable, except that apparently it doesn't allow "finded".

Date: 2013-01-27 08:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sandmantv.livejournal.com
It's only a 1000 words (at base), right? It was probably the least work to just hard code all acceptable words and variations. And so they could easily slip up from any consistent principle by saying "sure, founding sounds right".

Date: 2013-01-26 05:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ophblekuwufu.livejournal.com
Also, unrelatedly: What would you tell a sixth grader who asked you why the first vowel in "Minos" is different from the first vowel in "Minoan"? I'm pretty sure the answer involves explaining something about shwas on unstressed syllables, and something about why the stress moves when you add "an" to the end, but I'd love to give an actually correct answer rather than a handwavy one.

Date: 2013-01-26 06:05 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-26 02:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnight-sidhe.livejournal.com
:-D

Now I'm really tempted to try mine.

Date: 2013-01-26 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnight-sidhe.livejournal.com
Ja, and "what little pieces of words do" or something like that?

Date: 2013-01-27 05:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theevilgenius.livejournal.com
Summary of a paper I recently wrote:

When people get angry at each other and want to fight over who gets what, they know they can ask the state to make someone else decide who gets what, with the help of important words that the state has already written. Because it takes money to have someone else decide, and because they can't fight with guns without fearing the police, they will fight with each other using words. They have some idea of how that other person would decide who gets what, so they use those facts to try to get more than they would get if they used the other person.

When states get mad at each other, it is different from when people get mad at each other, because states do not HAVE to let someone else decide who gets what. States can just fight each other with guns or with money, and never let any person who has not yet taken sides decide who gets what. This is really true if the states have a lot of guns or money, because there is no police for states. But there are important written words that states agreed on in the past, that still matter even though states don't have to listen to those words as much as people do. Maybe states still listen to these words, even though they don't have to, because it helps to be able to say, "I am right! I should get all these things that I want, and you should not!" Maybe they do this while also saying, "Remember, I also have GUNS and MONEY." Can those written words make states fight and act in different ways when no one has to listen to or care about those words?

One place where this might be true is when states fight about who gets how big a part of some waters and land. States LOVE water and land. I noticed that there are states on the other side of the world that do things like look at the past and find old pictures to show that they used to own more water and land than the other person that wants that bit of water and land. Why do they care about the past? Because there are people that states can agree to let decide which states get how much water and land. These people use and figure out the meaning of those important written words, and when these people have decided who gets how much land, they care about the past. They also care about who already pretty much owns the water and land, so these states on the other side of the world shout, "See! We built stuff on this land! We said it was ours BEFORE you said it was yours! That means it is ours!" They even fought with words instead of using guns, which means it is more like when people inside states get mad, because people can't use guns to fight without fear of the police.

Also, there is a really big, strong, and old state on the other side of the world that wants even more water and land than six other states near it want, which makes those other states angry. It has said, "We do not want some other person to decide who gets the land and water! We want to decide one-on-one with each other state!" It wants this because it has more guns and money than all the other six states. At least one of the other six states really wants to have someone else decide, because the important written words will give them more land than fighting with guns or money would give them. But, even this big, strong state spends a lot of time talking about the past and how people from the state used to find food in those waters. It does this because when states agreed in the past about how to figure out how much water states own, they agreed that states might be able to not pay attention to the agreeing if states already owned the water in the past. This big, strong state even made a city just so that city can pretend to own the water and land, because it knows that if someone else decides who gets what, that person will care a lot about which state looks like it owns the water and land the most. Guess what? It doesn't just use guns and money, even though it has way more of both.

So, you see, states DO care about important written words, even though they don't HAVE to.

(I was amused. Hopefully someone or another reading this also is =P)
Edited Date: 2013-01-27 05:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-27 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sandmantv.livejournal.com
Clap!

"States LOVE water and land"

Date: 2013-01-27 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnight-sidhe.livejournal.com
This is the best thing.

Date: 2013-01-28 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
I have neither a thesis nor (any more) a livejournal of my own, so I'm posting here, and used the thing I have that's probably closest to a thesis. It's proving quite easy so far; the subject material is not actually very technical. That probably says something about whether we (puzzlers) are actually as smart as we seem to think we are.

---

Two years ago my friends and I ran a huge thinking game at a big school just down the road from my home. To finish the thinking game you had to make six song and dance shows that were like song and dance shows that lots of people know, but really really bad. I don't have time to tell you why you wanted to make the shows bad, but have you seen a song and dance show about two men who take money by lying to old women? We were just telling their story again but bigger (and less well).

But before you could do each one you had to do two little thinking games to tell you how to make the shows bad and make some people angry at you. Each of the little thinking games used words that you got by doing even littler thinking games. There were more than ten times ten littler thinking games in all!

Here's how each of the six times two little thinking games worked.
Edited Date: 2013-01-28 12:36 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-28 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
Usually we call the words you get from the littler thinking games Answers, even though they don't really answer any question other than "why are we still doing this?".

One of them had to do with the letters that are like the first letter of In or of Out, not the first letter of Left or of Right. Half of the answers had three of the first letter of Out, no more and no less, and none of the rest. The other half of the answers had none of the first letter of Out. If you pair up the answers by how long they are and look at where one answer has a letter and the other one has the first letter of Out, it tells you to make an animal wear something really weird.

Another one had to do with finding words in some really weird letters that I made up. Each of the answers went with three words: one meant the same thing, one sounded the same at the end, and one was just as long and started and ended with the same letters. If you found all of these words and looked at how far into the letter they were (just like Another is word number one in this and Had is word number three) you could see that the numbers all lined up in a well known way except with one missing. So if you had the numbers one, three, and seven, the five is missing. You looked at the words at the places you were missing and it told you to write your song and dance show in a way that would make your teacher very sad.

Thinking games are like that: you see that some things line up in a way that looks good and you do something with that.

Edited Date: 2013-01-28 01:17 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-28 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
Let me tell you, if "letter" weren't a legal word I would be so screwed. Also, it's getting way harder.

---

The next thinking game had to do with the stuff that you can put together to make all of the stuff around us. (You put two kinds of stuff together to make water, and four kinds of stuff to make most of a person.) The people who study this stuff write about it all the time, so they have a short way of writing each kind. They also put them all in a big table to keep them straight. We found answers you can make out of Stuff-for-short-words, and where each kind of Stuff in the word was in a line in the table except for one. If you looked at those they told you to put things in your show that would make people groan.

Another thinking game put together two games lots of people play. One was the game where you move little things like horses around and each one can only move one way or another, although we were really mean and used a weird kind of this game you probably haven't heard of. The other was the game where you put little pieces with letters on them down in lines for points, although we were even more mean and used words from a fun old book that you can't use most of the time. You used the answers to tell you how to play these games and worked out that in your song and dance show the people had to drag out parts of their words when they talked.

Date: 2013-01-28 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
I was not about to attempt a precise description of William S. Bergman. I'm not sure I even understand William S. Bergman anymore.

Edit: and in fact I totally misunderstood how it worked the first time.

--

By this time the people in our big thinking game were getting tired, but people who like thinking games sometimes care about them a lot. Many of the people who finished the big thinking game before all of the other people didn't sleep for more than a day!

Little thinking game number five had to do with a time years ago when a lot of people who like music and feeling happy (but maybe not being clean so much) got together for three days to listen to music and feel happy and not be so clean. All of the answers were just like the names of people who made music at that time, if you looked at only the first letters of each word. This let you put the answers in the right order. Then the last letters told you to give one of the people in your show hair that would make no sense at all if you thought about what she was supposed to do with it.

Then you had to do a thinking game that made you do two things that you do to words a lot in thinking games. For one thing, you had to change each letter in a group of words into a different letter to make a new group of words, making the same change each time to the same letter. For another thing, you had to see that a group of words used all of the letters that there are, although in this case two were always missing. By doing these things and putting the words in the right order you saw that you could make your show really bad by putting people in it that have been in way too many shows and gotten boring because of that.
Edited Date: 2013-01-28 01:43 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-28 02:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
Another thinking game went with a song and dance show about a person who has trouble saying a sound that usually goes with the first letter of Hello. We found words that make new words if you put that letter into them and put them with other words that were just one letter longer to make things you've heard of before. Then just like the first little thinking game you could pick out one letter from the longer word by seeing where the letter (that one that the person had trouble saying) would go in the shorter word. This told you to take a really important body part (the one that makes your blood go around) from people! Only in your show of course.

The next thinking game used a really great blinking light box that one of my friends built. You had to put it together yourself! Then you could talk to it using the way of making letters into sounds people used before the phone, with long sounds and short sounds. Lots of thinking games are about words that are the same back to front as front to back. This one was too, except that you had to write the words in long sounds and short sounds first! Also, one of the pieces of the blinking light box could go in front to back or back to front, and it would do something different each way. When you saw these things the box would tell you to break something you put a lot of time into making, which is sad but funny too.

We like to make thinking games where two different things you have to do go together like that. We think it makes the thinking games nice to look at.
Edited Date: 2013-01-28 02:11 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-28 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
The name of song and dance show number five made a joke about one word meaning a different kind of song show and another word like it meaning a person who helps you use the phone. The first thinking game that went with this show was about the words we used to say instead of the first two numbers in our phone number. If you turned the words into numbers and the numbers back into letters using the phone again, you learned that you had to make a song using the noises you hear when you put your number into a phone. (It sounds really bad when you do that.)

The other thinking game that went with this show was the kind where you know what to do from the start but have to work very hard anyway! It was about how light would move between boxes if each box had a thing in it that made the light change direction. The answers that went into this thinking game told you what was in some of the boxes, and you had to work out what was in the other ones. When you did this it told you to break a kind of car that the people who liked music and being happy but not being clean really liked a lot, even though that was a different song and dance show.
Edited Date: 2013-01-28 02:47 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-01-28 02:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenwndw.livejournal.com
The next to last thinking game was really simple, but not really easy, and so I like it a lot. You just had to write the answers on top of each other so you could read them both left to right and top to bottom! But they didn't just make a box when you did this! Actually they looked like something that made a lot of sense if you knew about the song and dance show the thinking game went with. When you finished the thinking game it told you to have an animal eat way too much of something that's probably not very good for it, which would be very mean if it weren't just a song and dance show.

The last thinking game was about different ways to turn words into numbers. There are many more of these than you might think! You had to figure out each different way, both from some words we used that might give you an idea, but also by looking at some words we turned into numbers for you. I like it when a thinking game lets you think in two different ways to get to the end! Anyway, when you turned the words into numbers, you could then turn the numbers into letters the same way computers do, because the thinking game was about the time people showed that a computer could do that game show that's about questioning answers instead of answering questions. You found out that you could make the computer mad by turning it off, which would make me mad for sure!

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