What's your favourite non-word?by George_Sherston (Vicar)
|on May 27, 2002 at 21:50 UTC||Need Help??|
Often one needs a random word to put into an array, enter in a db or whatever, to test a programme. Of course, 'foo', 'bar' and 'baz' are old faithfuls. In some circles "Lorem ipse..." is popular.
But when I looked over a db for which I've been testing a new interface, I noticed most often I used 'goom' or some variant - 'gum', 'goomp', 'gumbo' (though never 'gump'). What can this mean?
I'd be most entertained to know what your standby nonsense words are. Maybe we can start a new language. Maybe we can even learn something about our unconscious minds...
... although now I think of it, I realise that the source for my word is rather prosaic, though satisfactorily geeky. It's from a logic puzzle I read ages ago in a book by Martin Gardner, with which many will be familiar:
You go to the proverbial island where there are two clans, one of which always tells the truth, the other being made up of habitual liars. You meet two people, evidently from different clans, but you don't know which. You ask one of them "are you a truth teller?" He replies (and this is the bit I remembered) "Goom!" And the other one says "He says yes - but he's a liar."
So who's who?
And... there are two answers. The classical answer is that the first guy's lying. Because if the second guy's lying, then the first guy actually said "no", truthfully. But he couldn't answer "no" truthfully, because he was asked "are you a truth teller?", and if he were speaking truthfully he'd have been saying "yes".
The fuzzy logic answer is that "goom" doesn't mean "yes", and in fact it doesn't mean "no" either; it means "sorry I don't speak English" or something. And the second guy is lying to confuse you.
§ George Sherston