Author Topic: Help me with my new website!  (Read 421 times)

Offline FlatAssembler

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Help me with my new website!
« on: October 22, 2017, 04:27:04 AM »
Hi Daniel (and other people here who know something about informatics)!
I'm building a website, and I need some help. Here is its URL:
http://flatassembler.000webhostapp.com/
Specifically, I'm interested in how the Pacman game is working on various smartphones. It's supposed to have two interfaces. One is that the Pacman follows your finger, that it goes in the direction where you last tapped. In case it doesn't work, it has another interface, the bottons bellow the maze. On Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini both interfaces work, but I haven't had a chance to test it on some other smartphones.

If you could give me some other ideas for my website (I've already written something about linguistics on it), I'd appreciate that. Do you have maybe an idea for some game about linguistics that's easy to programme? I don't think I would be able to make a game any more complicated than that Pacman is.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2017, 08:26:52 PM »
No idea about the programming questios (I'd recommend the forums at dynamicdrive.com for web design and programming!), but the game was fun to click for a minute.

As for linguistics, it's hard to think of a game that would fit. Maybe something about a conlang, but still it's hard to say what that would be exactly. Of course you could design something other than a game, such as a grammar tool (whether it makes trees, or conjugates verbs, or whatever), but some of that would be text/language-based rather than the interface.
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2017, 11:48:54 AM »
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No idea about the programming questions.
I haven't really asked a programming question, I've asked how the game works on your smartphone. You don't have a smartphone?

Didn't you make this forum? I thought forums were made in the PHP programming language.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2017, 12:28:20 PM »
Using SMF software, yes. And I have modified it some. I do know some PHP. But my knowledge of Javascript or other types of browser/interface interaction is minimal, especially when it comes to mobile browsers. (I really do recommend dynamicdrive, though. I learned a lot there for a number of years, though I've been concentrating on linguistic research for a while now and haven't done much with programming, another reason I'm not up to date on mobile browsers.)

Well, I tried the game now on my iphone. It works about as well as on the computer (Firefox browser). It is somewhat unresponsive so it's a little hard to control, but it's functional. One quirky problem is that double tapping in iOS Safari zooms to the relevant section of a website, in this case the game, or back to the full window. So when I'm playing if I double tap to try to get the pacman character to move (again, it doesn't always respond the first time), sometimes it'll zoom out to show the whole website.
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2017, 07:55:28 AM »
Here is a text-based version of my new game about etymology. I'll implement some graphic interface later. Meanwhile, what do you think about it?
http://flatassembler.000webhostapp.com/etymology.html

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2017, 08:12:31 AM »
Interesting. Could end up being a nice tool for classes.
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2017, 02:53:33 AM »
I've done some "dirty fix" in the PacMan game for a mobile browser to automatically zoom in to the size of the game interface. Seems to work perfectly on Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini. How does it work on iPhone?

Do you think that my algorithm for randomly generating words as if they were in related languages in the Etymology Game produces convincing results? To me it seems like it does, especially for shorter words, but you could be more of an expert for those things.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2017, 04:35:06 PM »
It zooms in (close, but showing a little more than the game) automatically, but still zooms in (fully) or out (to that same original close view) when double tapping. I don't think that can be disabled on iphones.

As for the etymology/sound change game, it really depends on what you'd use it for. Nothing can ever replace real data, of course. Professors often make up some exercises for tests (either to make it an original problem no one has seen before, or to simplify things from messy real-world data), but even then it's usually modeled on real data.

In terms of picking the most likely candidate just from a list, sure, what you have works. So it could be a good first day exercise. But the things it does not include (which would be hard to add) include:
1. Producing realistic sound changes based on common patterns. For example, it is more common for S or F to become H than the other way around. There is frequently a directionality to changes that can be seen over and over again in various languages. But then there can be exceptions or alternatives sometimes. So figuring out sound changes is more about looking at the whole picture than just what an individual sound could change to. But part of figuring that out is thinking about probabilities as well as possibilities.
2. Importantly, sound changes must be figured out as general patterns in a language. You just can't do it for single words. As a first day example for students to guess what sound change might make sense, this could be fine. But it's not realistic because they'd never just be looking at a single word-- and they shouldn't be. That's a bad way to identify sound changes, because you can't tell real correlations apart from coincidence. You need a large data set with repeating patterns. Then you know what the changes are (and can apply them to individual words).
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2017, 09:16:04 PM »
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For example, it is more common for S or F to become H than the other way around.
Really? I programmed to it that h>s and s>h are equally likely. 'h' changes to 's' regularly in modern Croatian before 'i', and to 'sh' before 'e'. I know that 's' turned to 'h' regularly in Ancient Greek and Armenian. I also programmed it that h>f is more likely than f>h is. 'h' changes to 'f' regularly in the Shtokavian dialect of Croatian before 'u'. Also, it apparently changed that way in Proto-Germanic. "Four" should start with "wh" according to the Grimm's law.
Is there some table that provides more accurate data about those things than the intuition does?

Also, what do you think about the part 2 and part 3 of the game?

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2017, 08:36:09 AM »
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Is there some table that provides more accurate data about those things than the intuition does?
I'm not aware of an easily accessed summary chart. You would find some examples in an intro textbook, but it wouldn't cover everything.
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Really? I programmed to it that h>s and s>h are equally likely. 'h' changes to 's' regularly in modern Croatian before 'i', and to 'sh' before 'e'.
There may be exceptions. But s/f>h occurs in Romance languages (fabular>hablar in Spanish, or even in modern Spanish dialects final -s is becoming -h [or lost entirely] such as "lo niño" instead of "los niños" in some Latin American, usually coastal or Caribbean, dialects). That's actually just my intuition then (along with what I think I've heard others say) so referring to some statistics would be a good idea. There are arguments about this, though, such as the idea of "weakening" in general. You can find some sources online of typical chains of weakening (or lenition) if you search for that. One common example is palatalization, and another is the (e.g.) t>d>ð>... chain, especially intervocalically.

Part 2: rather than looking at more random words, you should provide some part that shows systematic examples of the same change. Rather than matching, do repetition. No idea how that fits into a game, though. But a common test item in classes is finding the phonological environment where a change occurs (it isn't just 'always'), such as between vowels, or before a nasal, or whatever.

Part 3: this is oversimplified, because you would need changes based on phonological contexts, not just one phoneme changing in all environments.
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2017, 11:00:08 AM »
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This is oversimplified, because you would need changes based on phonological contexts, not just one phoneme changing in all environments.
What are you talking about? Most of the sound changes are one phoneme changing in all, or nearly all, contexts, right? I mean, the Grimm's law, the Great Vowel Shift, the High German Consonant Shift…
Anyway, I did program it to sometimes add a phonological context to a sound change. "0[a]>e" means that 'a' changes to 'e' only in the beginning of a word. "[q]V>h" means that 'q' changes to 'h' only in front of a vowel. "N[m]V>0" means that 'm' disappears if it happens to be after a nasal and in front of a vowel (both of the requirements have to be fulfilled for a sound change to take place). "V[ u]C>w" means that 'u' changes to 'w' if it's both in front of a consonant and after a vowel. "x[z]0>r" means that, if a word happens to end in "-xz", the ending changes to "-xr".
Would you advise me to use a different notation?
« Last Edit: November 03, 2017, 11:02:45 AM by FlatAssembler »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2017, 11:13:38 AM »
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What are you talking about? Most of the sound changes are one phoneme changing in all, or nearly all, contexts, right? I mean, the Grimm's law, the Great Vowel Shift, the High German Consonant Shift…
Nope. Most changes (by far!) are contextual. See any intro textbook.

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Would you advise me to use a different notation?
Again, see an intro textbook for the notation commonly used by 'actual linguists' (as you wrote).
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Offline FlatAssembler

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2017, 02:48:19 AM »
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Most changes (by far!) are contextual.
I've always assumed that contextual sound changes were more well-known only because they produce grammatical peculiarities. Like, in German, the last consonant in a word is devoiced. However, when attached an ending, it becomes voiced again. As in, "Tag" (pronounced "tahk") and "Tage" (pronounced "tah-ghe"). The sound change is obvious when you analyze just that one language.
But would you be able to guess that the Grimm's Law (which included a series of sound changes that happened under most conditions) occurred just by analyzing English? Very unlikely. Just by analyzing English, you probably couldn't guess that the words like "spring" and "frog" or "stack" and "thatch" share the same root.
The different forms of palatalization are visible in Croatian because, well, they mostly affect only the endings, they are conditioned. The metathesis of the liquids (or>ra and ol>la) happened under nearly all phonetic conditions, so it's hard to see its traces in modern Croatian. Just by analyzing Croatian, you probably wouldn't guess that the words like "orati" (to plow) and "ralo" (plow) share the same root.
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Again, see an intro textbook for the notation commonly used by 'actual linguists' (as you wrote).
You can't really blame me, the only time I've seen formal notations of conditioned sound changes is when I watched the videos of a blogger called NativLang. That was a notation like one I programmed into my game, because I assumed that same notation was used in research papers.
Can you quickly explain me what notation is used in research papers? If it's easy to reprogram my game to include it, I'll do it. The formal notation used by NativLang is, maybe accidentally, relatively easy to program.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Help me with my new website!
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2017, 10:06:44 AM »
Well-known information about sound changes would tend to focus on only those most obvious changes like Grimm's law where the consonants change in all contexts. But that's like saying that vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are the only flavors is ice cream in the world. There are far more changes that are contextual, even if you don't as often hear about them. Aside from fun facts that might stand out to non-linguists as interesting, the science of historical linguistics is all about the contextual changes!

And actually, Grimm's Law is NOT an example of contextless change. The sounds did change across all environments, but if you look at the details sometimes there was contextual variation. The 'voiced aspirated' bh/dh/gh series (whatever the phonetic realization was) actually became EITHER voiced stops b/d/g or voiced fricatives β/ð/ɣ depending on context.

Completely contextless changes are very rare.

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I've always assumed that contextual sound changes were more well-known only because they produce grammatical peculiarities.
No. Sound changes are studied in order to know how languages change, how they are related, and what a plausible reconstruction might be.

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You can't really blame me, the only time I've seen formal notations of conditioned sound changes is when I watched the videos of a blogger called NativLang.
But you wrote "actual linguists"! I'm not blaming you for your lack of knowledge (or for anything really), but you should be careful not to state non-facts as facts. Clearly you would enjoy and learn a lot from taking a class about historical linguistics. There are things you don't know, and that's really not a problem, but the solution is to read a textbook or take a class, not state non-facts on forums.

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Can you quickly explain me what notation is used in research papers? If it's easy to reprogram my game to include it, I'll do it.
It's not too different from what you wrote, but it has different conventions. Phonetic symbols (usually IPA, sometimes traditional symbols from historical linguistics research, similar to IPA but a little different such as š for 'sh') are used, and there is a specific notation for the contexts in which the sounds occur, even down to specific phonetic features (sub-segmental level). You should take an intro class about phonology (using the traditional 'SPE' [= Sound Pattern of English by Chomsky and Halle] method even though that is more or less rejected today by phonologists-- it's a useful notation and a good introduction to relevant topics), as well as one about historical lingusitics (which will usually focus on sound change). Or if you can't take a class, read a textbook. You can also of course look up examples in research papers or on Wikipedia, etc. There are some examples here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_change (there might be some inconsistencies or oversimplification there to make it readable to nonspecialists; I just skimmed)

Trying to 'finish' the game before you master the basics is putting the cart before the horse, as they say.

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