Friday, July 21, 2017

A Syllable Word Game

I made up a word game just to illustrate how my syllable-counting algorithm gets used.

In each puzzle below, strike a letter to create a new word. Repeat for the indicated number of times. Constraint: every time you strike a letter, the new word has to have the same number of syllables as the old word.

Example:

   DULLY → DULY is allowed, but DULLY → DULL is not.


1. CLOVEN  →  ________  →  ________

2. ATRIAL  →  ________  →  ________

3. WAIVERS  →  ________  →  ________  →  ________

I found the three words cloven, atrial, and waivers by writing a computer program that used the syllable-counting function to help identify potentially interesting cases.

By the way, here is a simpler syllabification algorithm that I saw online.
  • Count the number of vowels in the word.
  • Do not count double-vowels ("rain" has 2 vowels but is only 1 syllable)
  • If last letter in word is vowel do not count ("side" is 1 syllable)
These instructions aren't 100% clear, but I implemented a version of this and compared it to the algorithm I've been using. It's not as good. Words in red are the 3 cases where my algorithm fails and the new one succeeds. Words in green are the 21 cases where my algorithm succeeds and the new one fails; 7 of these have an asterisk that is explained below. Words in blue are the 4 cases where both algorithms fail.

PYRAMIDALLY 5 4*
MISERICORDS 4 4
THYROXINS 3 3
PLICATION 3 3
PERTINACIOUS 5 4
LEAL 1 1
LYCOPOD 3 3
FRIPPERIES 3 3
INTERDEPENDENCY 6 5*
RITORNELLOS 4 4
PRESSORS 2 2
TINNY 2 1*
POOFTER 2 2
PETTLED 2 2
BACKPEDALLING 4 4
CHERRYLIKE 3 3
INTERCONVERT 4 4
VILLEIN 2 2
STALEST 2 2
PREVISION 3 3
TERRITORIALITY 7 5
ALKYLS 2 2
WAMBLED 2 2
TRILINGUAL 3 3
MONKSHOOD 2 2
UNSCREWED 2 3
SCOTIAS 3 2
SYMPHONY 3 2*
DREADFULS 2 2
FOCALIZATION 5 5
CONTRARIETY 4 3
HABERDASHER 4 4
UNCURIOUS 4 3
UNSWORE 2 2
MULTIVOLUME 4 4
CHEF 1 1
PITH 1 1
PENTAMIDINE 4 4
VISITATIONS 4 4
STEEPEN 2 2
SYNCOPATING 4 4
INTRIGANTS 3 3
SCANDIAS 3 2
BREGMATE 2 2
INACTIVATION 5 5
UNDERUTILIZES 6 6
FLOC 1 1
TUBAE 2 1
UNSYSTEMATIZED 5 6
HELLENIZE 3 3
VEXT 1 1
MUDSLINGERS 3 3
PHILANTHROPISTS 4 4
TALLISH 2 2
DOWNER 2 2
HODAD 2 2
OCHERS 2 2
ENFOLDING 3 3
CATWALKS 2 2
RAMPANT 2 2
PREORDAINMENT 4 3
TROUSSEAU 2 1
GRAVIDA 3 2
POLYWATER 4 4
INSUFFLATOR 4 4
MODERATENESSES 6 6
OUTCROWING 3 3
ACCOUCHEMENTS 4 4
UNDERDOGS 3 3
BRAIZE 1 1
VICEROYSHIP 4 4
CACHEXIAS 4 3
CUDDLIER 3 2
ASSIGNOR 3 3
SUEDED 2 2
TACTILITIES 4 4
SPHENOIDS 2 2
BANKROLLERS 3 3
OCTANTS 2 2
ANNUNCIATORY 6 4
BLACKLEAD 2 2
TITLEHOLDERS 4 4
REPRESSOR 3 3
RECKONERS 3 3
FAVOURS 2 2
OSAR 2 2
EDUCATION 4 4
UNCREATES 2 3
MEASURABILITIES 6 6
AROUSERS 3 3
DISASSEMBLY 4 3*
LICHEE 2 1
MOTIVATOR 4 4
CONCEDEDLY 4 3*
VELLUM 2 2
MERCHANDIZE 3 3
CONCOURSES 3 3
PHILISTIA 4 2
COUNTERINSURGENCY 6 5*
DUMBWAITERS 3 3


The new algorithm has lots of problems with a final Y…maybe the person forgot to specify an exception to rule (3) when the end vowel is Y. Doing that would repair the 7 cases with an asterisk.

Here is the comparison with the list of 34 more peculiar cases:

AIDE 1 1
IDEA 3 1
IDEAS 2 2
IDEE 2 1
IDE 1 1
AIDA 2 1
PROUSTIAN 3 2
CHRISTIAN 3 2
CLICHE 1 1
HALIDE 2 2
TELEPHONE 3 3
TELEPHONY 4 3*
DUE 1 0
IDEAL 2 2
DEE 1 0
UREA 3 1
VACUO 3 1
SEANCE 1 1
SAILED 1 2
RIBBED 1 2
MOPED 1 2
BLESSED 1 2
AGED 1 2
TOTED 2 2
WARRED 1 2
UNDERFED 2 3
JADED 2 2
INBRED 2 2
BRED 1 1
RED 1 1
STATES 1 2
TASTES 1 2
TESTES 1 2
UTILIZES 4 4

There are some inevitable flip-flops here…for example, if a simple algorithm get testes right, then it's going to get tastes wrong, and conversely. Likewise for Proustian/Christian. But altogether there's a lot more green than red, even after fixing the asterisk cases.

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