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Cirne comments on The Hero With A Thousand Chances - Less Wrong

63 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 31 July 2009 04:25AM

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Comment author: Cirne 13 December 2010 07:14:51PM 8 points [-]

Have you played any, or are you a fan of, interactive fiction? If so, and you haven't played this particular game before, I recommend you look at The Gostak. It's an entire story written using standard IF principles and conventions, only every noun, verb, adjective, and adverb has been changed to be semantically unrecognizable but syntactically familiar to an English speaker. It is based on a thought experiment from The Meaning of Meaning; in short, the meaningless sentence "The gostak distims the doshes" allows you to generate three interconnected floating beliefs, one about the gostak, one about distimming, and one about doshes.

The core of language and communication is common convention. If your intent is to create a visually-pleasing pattern of pixels on a screen or ink on paper, you can change any part of your writing you like. You can change every word to a made-up word that only uses half-height letters, use the capital X as your sentence-ending punctuation, and as long as the story is internally consistent, people could still conceivably generate meaning from it. If they try hard enough, they might even generate the meaning you intended, but you would by necessity have a smaller audience.

Is your primary goal to communicate your ideas to others using a common language, or is it to create visual artwork? No matter your personal feelings on the aesthetics of different parts of the language, if you violate conventions, all you're doing is harming the former in favor of the latter.

Comment author: Auroch 30 December 2010 09:17:29PM 1 point [-]

This viewpoint assumes that this convention makes it easier to communicate ideas. This is not true a priori, and certainly false for some conventions (that against splitting infinitives for instance).

In this case, I think you are wrong and that the convention is not sufficiently widely known/accepted to aid in communication.

Comment author: Baruta07 25 October 2012 01:35:24AM *  1 point [-]

From the few minutes I've seen of it it looks amazing. If anyone wishes to play it here's A link