silenc: Removing the silent letters from a body of text

Posted to Data Art  |  Tags:  |  Nathan Yau

During a two-week visualization course, Momo Miyazaki, Manas Karambelkar, and Kenneth Aleksander Robertsen imagined what a body of text would be without the the silent letters in silenc.

silenc is based on the concept of the find-and-replace command. This function is applied to a body of text using a database of rules. The silenc database is constructed from hundreds of rules and exceptions composed from known guidelines for "un"pronunciation. Processing code marks up the silent letters and GREP commands format the text.

So nothing too fancy on the analysis side, but the experimental views are kinda interesting to see. [via @alexislloyd]


  • Interesting project, but their rules seem to be far too liberal. For one of many examples I noticed in the English texts, removing the “i” from stories changes the pronunciation and meaning of the word drastically.

  • Brian Doherty January 30, 2013 at 11:16 am

    This reminds me of a short story I read when I was a kid. As I recall, it described a future society where they decided bit by bit to simplify the written language. After each change was briefly discussed and justified, the story from then on was written using that simplification. The changes accumulated until the language was really different from standard English, but readable if you were paying attention. I haven’t been able to find the story again – it might have been Isaac Asimov.


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