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  • made a typo ..

    Atlantic article on why Dr. Seuss'ian words are funny.

    November 24, 2015

  • I coined this term, or rather my computer did, so I know the etymology. It was created by a computer program called 'LINGUA' (The Language Independent Neighbourhood Generator of the University of Alberta; LINGUA made the nonword using a statistical process called a Markov chain, which makes nonwords by mimicking the statistical structure of a language, in this case English. I originally made it to use in a task called 'Lexical Decision', which asks subjects to decide if a string of letters is a real word or a nonword. 'Snunkoople' was the string that inspired my colleagues and me to conduct some research into why some nonwords are funny:

    Westbury, C., Shaoul, C., Moroschan, G., & Ramscar, M. (2016) Telling the world’s least-funny jokes: On the quantification of humor as entropy. Journal of Memory & Language, 86, 141-156.

    I am trying to get 'snunkoople' accepted as an English noun, meaning 'a nonword that sounds funny', as in the sentence "'Finglam' is a snunkoople."

    December 2, 2015

  • Vaguely rhymes with Mott the Hoople.

    December 2, 2015

  • "A group of researchers at the University of Alberta have developed what may be the first mathematical theory of humor, all thanks to a funny-sounding nonsense word: snunkoople.

    Psychology professor Chris Westbury was studying people with aphasia, a disorder affecting language comprehension, when he noticed something strange. Subjects were asked to read strings of letters and identify whether they were real words. After a while, Westbury noticed subjects seemed to laugh at certain nonsense words—snunkoople in particular."


    December 2, 2015

  • I think (but really I'm guessing)
    That Westbury, C., is expressing
    His hope that this group'll
    Embrace his snunkoople
    And give it Wordnikian blessing.

    He needn't have worried his head
    But asserted his new word instead.
    In Wordnik submission
    Amounts to permission.
    We use it if once it's been said.

    December 3, 2015

  • Reminds me of cellar door in that I have a visceral negative reaction to any word about which my innate response has been ssecond-guessed by some obscure linguistic computation.

    December 3, 2015

  • Did you say ssecond bilby?

    December 3, 2015

  • Sshutup you ssand-hopping twitchbag.

    December 3, 2015