There’s a party — Perverbs.

Friday 23 May 2014, 4:34 pm   //////  

I persist in my quest to develop extremely simple, easily modifiable programs that produce compelling textual output.

My latest project is Modern Perverbs. In a world where nothing is as it seems … two phrases … combine … to make a perverb. That’s about all there is to it. If phrase N is picked from the first list, some phrase that isn’t number N will be picked from the second, to ensure maximum perverbiality. The first phrase also carries the punctuation mark that will be used at the very end. This one is a good bit simpler than even my very simple “exploded sentence” project, Lede.

(I learned of perverbs and their power, I should note, thanks to Selected Declarations of Dependence by Harry Mathews.)

In case, for some reason, you fear the legal repercussions of ripping off my HTML and JavaScript and editing it, Modern Perverbs is explicitly licensed as free software. Save the page on your desktop as plain HTML (not “complete”), open it in an editor, and have a field day.


  1. The link is malformed! I was going to make a joke about how the two phrases are “Error 404” and “Not Found” but that would be snotty.

    I’d kind of like to combine this with some sort of WordNet thing that checks for scansion and off-rhyme and boom — Katy Perry lyric generator.

    Comment by matt w — 2014-05-23 @ 5:54 pm
  2. Whoops, thanks for that. I left off the “http://” – it’s now fixed.

    I guess I’m following the common advice: Keep your data 404.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2014-05-23 @ 7:00 pm
  3. Also, I’d love it if someone made this generation more “purry.” Right now, it’s a bit off-kilter because all of the first and last parts don’t have the same syntax. I rather like that, but I’m certainly willing to see if there are interesting alternatives that further constrain syntax, meter, rhyme, and so on.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2014-05-23 @ 7:03 pm
  4. Here are some funny sentences that I got from this thing: “All roads lead somewhere.” (A “Where-ever you go, there you are” kind of phrase, I’m guessing.)

    “The Internet is into Mordor.” (Just like the casualness of this.)

    “The road goes in my pants.” (Okay, so I’m a child.)

    “The sun never sets somewhere.” (Technically accurate, I suppose.)

    “The Internet is somewhere.” (I’m not sure if this is, though.)

    “Keep your data somewhere.” (Not the most technical of computer advice.)

    “It’s five o’clock into Mordor.” (One of Jimmy Buffet’s lesser songs.)

    And a few that fit perfectly: “Welcome home!” “The Internet is ever ever on.” “Right or wrong, into Mordor.”

    Most of the phrases made look like Inform-ese to my eye.

    Comment by Healy — 2014-05-24 @ 3:16 pm
  5. OK, I did a more match one (modifying your source code was actually within the limits of my HTML or whatever that is skills). The left half is a singular subject, the right half is a singular predicate. I used a bunch of really clichéd proverbs, plus one of yours that fit the mode and a Radiohead quote, which helped produce the best one from this set: “One man’s meat always wins.”

    It’d be kind of nice to use some Informy adaptive text to allow you to combine singular and plural subjects and adjust the verb to agree, or even something where you trawled through a syntactic analysis of a proverb to find parts that matched; but that latter would be a lot of work.

    Comment by matt w — 2014-05-28 @ 3:19 pm
  6. “A rolling stone is better than cure”? SAYS YOU. Well, I guess I agree.

    Comment by matt w — 2014-05-28 @ 3:20 pm
  7. Here’s the beginning of my latest load:

    “Fear of death is the hardest. Necessity heals all wounds. Necessity always wins. The first step deserves another. Necessity heals all wounds. The Internet is the mother of invention.”

    These all seem more accurate than their originals.

    Comment by matt w — 2014-05-29 @ 11:00 pm
  8. Matt, brilliant!

    Comment by Nick — 2014-05-29 @ 11:44 pm

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