Markov Jabberwocky: fesh, excenture, and the like

In Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, and its translations, it’s clear that even nonsense words can look like they certainly belong to a particular language. Who could doubt the Englishness of ‘’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe”, or the Frenchness of «Évite le frumieux Band-à-prend!»?

Question: Is it possible to encode the property of looking Englishy, Frenchish, and so on?

Answer: Markov chains do a pretty good job of it. Here are some sample outputs of my Markov Jabberwocky computer program (hopefully, you can tell which language is which): fesh, excenture, warl, figutes, houpon, tecourd’hui, vor, govio, elanar, welbet, Abef, wowors, veropäischen.

In this talk, we'll see how it works.

John Kerl
Graduate Student Colloquium
August 26, 2009