Chris Pound's language machines

Note: The content is still OK, but this page hasn't really been touched since around 2003.

 

Contents

The following scripts generate random names, vocabularies, kung-fu moves, creatures, spells, and so on. Most people use them in role-playing games. Some people use them in designing their own SF/Fantasy languages. See the related links and the credits at the bottom of the page for proof that other people actually care about this stuff! Or just try the kung-fu move generator, and be amused.


Scripts

I have written several scripts in perl to help you generate cool names or vocabulary for your setting or constructed language. Don't expect the output to make a lot of sense. The language confluxer takes a list of words and associates every sequential pair of letters with the list of letters that might possibly follow the pair. The command "lc -s [datafile]" will show you what this looks like. The program chooses a pair that can occur at the beginning of a word, then selects one of the letters from the associated list, and forms a new pair, repeating until a whitespace character is found or until a max-length is reached. Simple.

  • lc, the language confluxer (New: Python version).
  • prop turns lc's output into proper names.
  • fix gives lc's output random affixes.
  • transfix replaces words in a textfile with fix's output.
Some "transfixed" texts: Tsolyani, Italian, Albanian, Jaqaru, Sumerian

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Data sets

For those of you unable to run these scripts, I've provided sample output for many of the datasets below. These samples are updated every night around midnight Eastern time.

Hacked-up data: Mostly unsatisfying attempts to mix and match data from real languages to create original datasets.

Data from invented languages: These data are culled from various gameworlds and novels. Note that for a world like Glorantha, it's easy to generate distinctive names for particular areas by combining the basic data with some more words from the real world. For example, Glorantha plus Hindi equals Teshnos. Loren Miller has had success combining Russian, Lithuanian, Georgian and other names with some Gloranthan names for his campaign set in Carmania.

Data from real languages: These data work pretty well, and I wish you luck in putting together a fantastic mixture for your own use. Note that the English names were collected using a list of local Rice users and may not be ideal.

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Dying Earth spell generator

In Jack Vance's classic Tales of the Dying Earth, the nomenclature for the magical spells seems curiously archaic. Xarfaggio's Physical Malepsy ... Arnhoult's Sequestrious Digitalia ... The Spell of Forlorn Encystment ... Khulip's Nasal Enhancement ... The spell names occasionally evoke a decadent arcane humor. The Excellent Prismatic Spray ... Phandaal's Critique of the Chill ... For the Dying Earth spell generator, a slightly revised language confluxer mixes names from the Dying Earth with names of Basque, Armenian, and Persian extraction to yield the names of previously-unknown sorcerors. The perplexing inventions of these sorcerors are then revealed with the aid of Roget's Thesaurus (1911) ... If you are initiate to the delights of the Dying Earth Role-Playing Game, these odd discoveries may perhaps be of some use.

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Pokethulhu names

Pokethulhu is a brilliant parody RPG by S. John Ross and John Kovalic. It is available at Wizard's Attic. I whipped up this name generator for it in about two and a half hours, so don't expect too much:

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Feng Shui character names

Feng Shui is a fabulous roleplaying game, full of chop-socky, both-guns-blazin' action. Inspired by Hong Kong action movies, the characters often have names that mix English and Chinese elements, sometimes with tongue firmly in cheek. I have some lists of possible elements that get mixed and matched into a new sample list of names every fifteen minutes:

See also Steve Barr's Feng Shui adventure generator and a military operation generator suitable for inventing Buro ops.

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Amazing verbal kung-fu

If you've seen a lot of wuxia / kung-fu movies, you know what this is about. Use it for a silly game of Feng Shui, Hong Kong Action Theater, or Exalted. Consider it review material for playing Jared Sorenson's Happy-Lucky Chinese Restaurant Game. Whatever! Enjoy.

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The standard fantasy name generator

This is a first pass at a potentially amusing name generator for what you might call "standard" fantasy worlds: romanticized, pseudo-medieval, Earthlike settings full of barbarians, wizards, assassins, and the like. It seems that not everyone likes really exotic names, and some of those folks have nevertheless expressed an interest in random name generators. This one's not very "cool" yet (as if it ever could be!), but I'll keep working on it from time to time. As with the Feng Shui names, above, the output of this script is updated every fifteen minutes:

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Yet another word generator

Werd is a tiny word generator that takes a set of rules for word-building and randomly generates a word. The ruleset is just a little tree-grammar sort of thing, beginning with a rule named "W" that expands to some list of rules like "CVnC" or "XCT," each of which expands to more rules and to lists of lowercase letters that might actually appear in a word. See the English ruleset for info.

  • werd, the other word generator.
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Links to other name generators

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Credits, etc.

If you're intrigued by all of this, subscribe to the world-design mailing list via majordomo@erzo.org. I think Majordomo wants you to say "subscribe world-design [address]" in the body of the message. Or, maybe you'd prefer the constructed-languages list. Tell majordomo@diku.dk to "subscribe conlang". Have fun!

Alan Sweeney (Page 637@aol.com) contributed all the datasets for Arabic, Celtic, Modern Greek, Spanish, and Thai names. Loren Miller (loren@wharton.upenn.edu) contributed the datasets for Cthulhoid, Carmanian, Assyrian, Japanese, and Viking names. Alex Fink (fink@cadvision.com) contributed the Latvian files. Hayden Sweeney (bmalehtmai@aol.com) contributed the dataset for Ancient Egyptian. Kaoru Moriyama (caro@aaa-int.or.jp) provided some excellent info on Japanese names, which I'm afraid I corrupted a bit given the way I incorporated it into the Japanese ruleset for werd. Aaron Parecki (www.aaronparecki.com) contributed the Hawaiian ruleset for werd. Mark Rosenfelder (markrose@tezcat.com) gave me a copy of an old Pascal program of his that inspired me to write my little "werd" script (so much simpler in perl! :-). My thanks to Skyfox (skyfox@telia.com) for help with the kung-fu move generator.

If you have any question or comments, or if you have a new dataset you'd like to contribute, email me: cpound@gmail.com.

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This page last changed in ... August 2003