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Encyclopedia > Nonsense
For the usage of "nonsense" in Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Patent nonsense.

Nonsense is an utterance or written text in what appears to be a human language or other symbolic system, that does not in fact carry any identifiable meaning. Look up nonsense in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... An utterance is a complete unit of talk, bounded by silence. ... Write redirects here. ... The term natural language is used to distinguish languages spoken by humans for general-purpose communication from constructs such as computer-programming languages or the languages used in the study of formal logic, especially mathematical logic. ... The term symbolic system is used in the field of anthropology and sociology to refer to a system of interconnected symbolic meanings. ...


Distinguishing sense from nonsense

While Emily Dickinson wrote that: From the daguerreotype taken at Mount Holyoke, December 1846 or early 1847. ...

Much madness is divinest Sense
To the discerning Eye…

The problem lies in the discernment. Distinguishing meaningful utterances from nonsense is not a trivial task. Confronted with a lengthy text in an unknown script, how does one determine whether those characters in fact contained a meaningful text, or were simply set using the equivalent of printer’s pi or a lorem ipsum-style text? Writing systems of the world today. ... Using lorem ipsum to focus attention on graphic elements in a website design proposal. ...

The problem is important in cryptography and other intelligence fields, where it is important to distinguish signal from noise. Cryptanalysts have devised algorithms for this purpose, to determine whether a given text is in fact nonsense or not. These algorithms typically analyze the presence of repetitions and redundancy in a text; in meaningful texts, certain frequently used words—for example, the, is, and and in a text in the English language—will occur over and over again. A random scattering of letters, punctuation marks, and spaces will not exhibit these regularities. Zipf’s Law attempts to state this analysis in the language of mathematics. By contrast, cryptographers typically seek to make their cipher texts resemble random distributions, to avoid telltale repetitions and patterns that may give an opening for cryptanalysis. The German Lorenz cipher machine, used in World War II for encryption of very high-level general staff messages Cryptography (or cryptology; derived from Greek κρυπτός kryptós hidden, and the verb γράφω gráfo write or λεγειν legein to speak) is the study of message secrecy. ... An intelligence agency is a governmental organization that for the purposes of national security is devoted to the gathering of information (known in the context as intelligence) by means of espionage, communication interception, cryptanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public sources. ... In information theory, a signal is the sequence of states of a communications channel that encodes a message. ... In science, and especially in physics and telecommunication, noise is fluctuations in and the addition of external factors to the stream of target information (signal) being received at a detector. ... Close-up of the rotors in a Fialka cipher machine Cryptanalysis (from the Greek kryptós, hidden, and analýein, to loosen or to untie) is the study of methods for obtaining the meaning of encrypted information, without access to the secret information which is normally required to do so. ... Flowcharts are often used to graphically represent algorithms. ... Look up Repetition in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In language, redundancy often takes the form of phrases which repeat a concept with a different word. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Random redirects here. ... Originally, Zipfs law stated that, in a corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is roughly inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. ... This article is about algorithms for encryption and decryption. ...

Teaching machines to talk nonsense

It is far harder for cryptographers to deal with the presence or absence of meaning in a text in which the level of redundancy and repetition is higher than found in natural languages: for example, in the mysterious text of the Voynich manuscript. Some have attempted to create text that in fact carries no meaning, but still complies with the regularities predicted by Zipf’s Law. The Markov chain technique is one such method. This has occasionally been put into the service of surrealistic jokes; the fake Usenet poster Mark V Shaney posted texts generated by a Markov chain algorithm, and frequently launched flame wars with his unfathomable screeds. The Voynich manuscript is written in an unknown script. ... Originally, Zipfs law stated that, in a corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is roughly inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. ... In mathematics, a Markov chain, named after Andrey Markov, is a discrete-time stochastic process with the Markov property. ... Max Ernst. ... Surreal humour is a form of humour based on bizarre juxtapositions, absurd situations, and nonsense logic. ... Usenet (USEr NETwork) is a global, decentralized, distributed Internet discussion system that evolved from a general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name. ... Mark V Shaney is a fake Usenet user whose postings were generated by using Markov chain techniques. ... Look up flaming in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The Markov chain technique is one method that has been used to generate texts by algorithm and randomizing techniques that seem meaningful. Another could be called the Mad Libs method: it involves the creation of templates for various sentence structures, and filling in the blanks with noun phrases or verb phrases; these phrase generation procedures can be looped to add recursion and give the output the appearance of greater complexity and sophistication. Racter was a computer program that generated nonsense texts by this method; however, Racter’s book, The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed, proved to have been the product of heavy human editing of the output of the program. Random redirects here. ... Mad Libs (a play on ad lib, from Latin ad libitum - as you wish) is a word game where one player prompts another for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story; these word substitutions have a humorous effect when the resulting story is then read aloud. ... Look up noun phrase in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In linguistics, a verb phrase or VP is a syntactic structure composed of the predicative elements of a sentence and functions in providing information about the subject of the sentence. ... This article is about the concept of recursion. ... -- Allegedly written by Racter, from The Policemans Beard is Half Constructed Racter was an artificial intelligence computer program that generated English language prose at random. ...

Literary nonsense

Main article: Literary nonsense

The phrase “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” was coined by Noam Chomsky as an example of nonsense. The individual words make sense, and are arranged according to proper grammatical rules, yet the result is still nonsense. The inspiration for this attempt at creating verbal nonsense came from the idea of contradiction and irrelevant or immaterial characteristics (an idea cannot have a dimension of color, green or otherwise), both of which would be sure to make a phrase meaningless. The phrase “the square root of Tuesday” operates on the latter principle. This principle is behind the inscrutability of the koan “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” One hand would presumably require another hand to complete the definition of clapping. Literary Nonsense refers to literature in which there are either nonsensical words, or the meaning does not make the slightest bit of sense. ... Approximate X-Bar representation of Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. ... Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. ... For the rules of English grammar, see English grammar and Disputes in English grammar. ... Broadly speaking, a contradiction is an incompatibility between two or more statements, ideas, or actions. ... Color is an important part of the visual arts. ... A koan (pronounced ) is a story, dialog, question, or statement in the history and lore of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that may be accessible to intuition. ...

Still, the human will to find meaning is strong; green ideas might be ideas associated with a Green party in politics, and colorless green ideas criticizes some of them as uninspiring. For some, the human impulse to find meaning in what is actually random or nonsensical is what makes people find luck in coincidence, believe in omens and divination, or engage in conversation with a computer (see ELIZA effect). A Green party is a formally organized political party based on the principles of Green politics. ... This article is about fortune. ... Coincidence is the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection. ... Examples of omens from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493): natural phenomena and strange births. ... For other uses, see Divination (disambiguation). ... The ELIZA effect, in computer science, is the tendency to unconsciously assume computer behaviors are analogous to human behaviors, despite conscious knowledge to the contrary. ...

The dreamlike language of James Joyce’s “novel” Finnegans Wake sheds light on nonsense in a similar way; full of portmanteau words, it appears to be pregnant with multiple layers of meaning, but in many passages it is difficult to say whether any one person’s interpretation of a text is the “intended” or “correct” one. There may in fact be no such interpretation. This article is about the writer and poet. ... For the street ballad which the novel is named after, see Finnegans Wake. ... A portmanteau (IPA: ) is a word or morpheme that fuses two or more words or word parts to give a combined or loaded meaning. ...

Jabberwocky” is a poem (of nonsense verse) found in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) by Lewis Carroll. It is generally considered to be one of the greatest nonsense poems written in the English language. The word “jabberwocky” is also occasionally used as a synonym of nonsense. For other uses, see Jabberwocky (disambiguation). ... Poetry (ancient Greek: poieo = create) is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. ... Nonsense verse is a form of poetry, normally composed for humorous effect, which is intentionally and overtly paradoxical, silly, witty, whimsical or just plain strange. ... Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) is a work of childrens literature by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), generally categorized as literary nonsense. ... Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (IPA: ) (27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll (), was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman and photographer. ...

Nonsense verse

Nonsense verse is the verse form of literary nonsense, a genre that can manifest in many other ways. Nonsense verse represents a long tradition; its best known exponent is Edward Lear, author of The Owl and the Pussycat and hundreds of limericks. Nonsense verse is a form of poetry, normally composed for humorous effect, which is intentionally and overtly paradoxical, silly, witty, whimsical or just plain strange. ... Literary Nonsense refers to literature in which there are either nonsensical words, or the meaning does not make the slightest bit of sense. ... Edward Lear, 1812-1888 Eagle Owl, Edward Lear, 1837 Another Edward Lear owl, in his more familiar style Edward Lear (12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) was an artist, illustrator and writer known for his nonsensical poetry and his limericks, a form which he popularised. ... This article is about the poetic form. ...

Nonsense verse comes from a tradition older than Lear; the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle is also a sort of nonsense verse. There are also some things which appear to nonsense verse, but actually are not, such as the popular 1940s song “Mairzy Doats.” A nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children, originally in the nursery. ... Hey Diddle Diddle is a nursery rhyme. ... Mairzy Doats is a novelty song composed in 1943 by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston. ...

Lines of nonsense frequently figure in the refrains of folksongs. Nonsense riddles and knock-knock jokes are seen often. Lewis Carroll, seeking a nonsense riddle, once posed the question How is a raven like a writing desk? But someone answered him, Because Poe wrote on both. However, there are different answers (e.g. both have inky quills). A refrain (from the Old French refraindre to repeat, likely from Vulgar Latin refringere) is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse; the chorus of a song. ... Folk music, in the original sense of the term, is music by and of the people. ... A riddle is a statement or question having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved. ... This article or section seems to contain too many examples (or of a poor quality) for an encyclopedia entry. ... Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (IPA: ) (27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll (), was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman and photographer. ... Binomial name Corvus corax Linnaeus, 1758 Common Raven range Subspecies The Common Raven (Corvus corax), also known as the Northern Raven, is a large all-black passerine bird in the crow family, with iridescent feathers. ... Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short story writer, playwright, editor, literary critic, essayist and one of the leaders of the American Romantic Movement. ... E.G. is an Australian only release EP from New Zealand four piece Goodshirt. ... A quill pen is made from a flight feather (preferably a primary) of a large bird, most often a goose. ...


  • Kahn, David, The Codebreakers (Scribner, 1996) ISBN 0-684-83130-9

David Kahn is a US historian, journalist and writer. ...

See also

Horseshit redirects here. ... Look up Wit in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Humour in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For the language game, see Gibberish (language game). ... The UTF-8-encoded Japanese Wikipedia article for mojibake, as displayed in ISO-8859-1 encoding. ... Gobbledygook or gobbledegook (sometimes shortened to gobbledegoo) is an English term used to describe nonsensical language, sound that resembles language but has no meaning, or unintelligible encrypted text. ... Logorrhoea or logorrhea (Greek λογορροια, logorrhoia, “word-flux”) is defined as an “excessive flow of words” and, when used medically, refers to incoherent talkativeness that occurs in certain kinds of mental illness, such as mania. ... Statues of tall tale characters Paul Bunyan and Babe A tall tale is a story that claims to explain the reason for some natural phenomenon, or sometimes illustrates how skilled/intelligent/powerful the subject of the tale was. ... For other uses, see Fiction (disambiguation). ... A language-game is a philosophical concept developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein, referring to simple examples of language use and the actions into which the language is woven. ... Vacuous truth is a special topic of first-order logic. ... Discordianism is a modern, chaos-centered religion founded circa 1958–1959 by Malaclypse the Younger with the publication of its principal text, the Principia Discordia. ... The Loompanics Yellow Cover combined 4th & 5th Edition Principia Discordia, (1979). ... DaDa is a concept album by Alice Cooper, released in 1983. ... Asemic writing is an open semantic form of writing. ... Max Ernst. ... The Sokal affair was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated on the editorial staff and readership of the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (published by Duke University). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

External links

  • Asemic Magazine Is an Australian magazine devoted to nonverbal nonsense.

  Results from FactBites:
Nonsense - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1049 words)
Nonsense is an utterance or written text in what appears to be a human language or other symbolic system, that does not in fact carry any identifiable meaning.
Nonsense is generally used by school-age children as a form of communication among their peers.
Philosophically, nonsense masquerading as sense is the gist of the charges of pseudoscience and pseudophilosophy.
  More results at FactBites »



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