NABOKV-L post 0020678, Mon, 6 Sep 2010 15:03:56 +0100

Re: from world to word: the alternative way
Alexey's version of word-golf allows replacement, addition or deletion of a single letter at each 'stroke.' It also lets you shift languages. This is not a complaint. Merely a reminder that some word-golf versions are much EASIER than others. It's hard to PIN [sic] down THE original, but my impression was that VN's preferred version allowed a single language (typically English) and only a single-letter REPLACEMENT at each stage. The point of the word GOLF, of course, is that we seek the FEWEST strokes/transitions. (And maybe poorer wordsmiths can demand a HANDICAP system? Let's not explore Tiger Woods' cheating to reach birdie holes ...)

When this topic cropped up a few years ago, I was able to quote from Donald Knuth's book on Combinatorics (El Don's famous Volume 4, no longer at my bedside) which offers algorithms (computer programs) for solving VN's word-golf: finding the minimum steps from xxxx...xx to yyyy...yy using a GIVEN (hence FINITE*) dictionary database but only IF ANY SOLUTIONS EXIST!! If more than one minimum exists, the program will list ALL such. In fact, the program must determine all solutions before it can select the winning minima! You may be able to guess that as the initial word-length increases, the computer time increases exponentially, possibly beyond the estimated life-span of our universe (estimates differ!) This COMBINATORIAL EXPLOSION remains a central challenge in Computer Science, with a $1million prize and immortality awaiting the resolver (Google P versus NP problem.)

But rest assured, that for say 10-letter-VN-word-golf, you can be replaced by a machine. Less fun, of course. Also, ALAS, less MYSTICISM! The start and end words need NOT share any rational semantic connection. Occasionally they will, of course, by sheer chance. BUT all spelling systems are arbitrary. Full stop!

* the annoying fact is that the number of words in many languages is (countably) INFINITE. Not just the polysynthetic and overly-agglutinative tongues like Cherokee and Turkish, but dear old English. We have rules for forming valid words from roots (adding UN-, RE-, DIS- and -ISM etc) beyond inclusion in any dictionary.

Stan Kelly-Bootle

Sent from my iPad

On 6 Sep 2010, at 04:28, Jansy Berndt de Souza Mello <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Around the word in 20 places?
> The narrator of "N.P" (authored by banana yoshimoto), in the early chapters of her novel, describes a similar roundtrip, after losing her voice for a few weeks - to discover the world behind words.
> I just checked the List-archives after her name and found no reference to her. I'm still in the early chaptesr of this 1994 book in which, after a few hints of older men courting young girls, incest and synesthesia, yoshimoto mentioned "Lolita." So, once again, a belated SIGHTING to the Nab-List which, also as usual, reached me in a most unexpected way.
> I quote from page 26 ( a faber&faber paperback): " There's an element of Lolita in it, for sure, but that's not all. Like the end is really magical, maybe because of all the drugs and liquor they're doing. I especially liked the descriptions of the daughter's inhuman beauty. It reminded me of that Doyle painting of the mermaid," I said.
> The narrator is describing the ninety-eighth story written by Sarao Takase, who wrote in English and lived in America (Boston, perhaps) but whose writings were pervaded by nostalgia of his homeland. Three translators of his short-stories into Japanese, like the author, comitted suicide.
> I cannot remember about how "Log" and "Logos" appear in "Ada." The latter is not strictly translated as "word" because it also acquired the sense of "reason." and, later, the religious biblical creation's "Word" . What's the meaning of -L (if it indicates "logos", would it mean "un-reason"?)
> From: Alexey Sklyarenko
> Sent: Sunday, September 05, 2010 7:10 PM
> Subject: [NABOKV-L] from world to word: the alternative way
> You can also get from "world" to "word" by making this round-the-word trip:
> world - word - Lord - Nord - nod - God - Gog - bog - dog - log - slog - sloy - slon - slom - slam - Slav - slava - sliva - slova - slovo
> I'm not a Tiger Woods of word golf. There could be less words between world and slovo (in fact, I deliberately chose a longer route and made more strokes than necessary). God means "year", Bog "God", dog "Great Dane", log "broad gully", slog "syllable" or "style", sloy "layer", slon "elephant" or "bishop" (chess-man), slom "demolition", slava "fame" or "glory", sliva "plum", slova "words" or "of word", slovo "word" in Russian.
> Btw., in Vladimir Solov'yov's fable Efiopy i brevno ("The Ethiopians and a Log") a log is worshipped as if it were God (Russian Bog). The name Solov'yov comes from solovey ("nightingale"). Solovey = slovo + ey (to her); slovo = volos (hair); volos - golos (voice) - kolos (ear, spike); golos = Logos, kolos = sokol (falcon)
> Alexey Sklyarenko

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