Monday, June 30, 2008

YCQ #11 / January: Linguistics in Song

Today I have a special treat for you listeners. It's time for a yellow card question, but instead of our usual theme song, we have a podcast in production since January 2007. That's right, like finely aged wine, very moldy cheese, or those dirty socks that got lost behind the dresser, this podcast is of the finest caliber producible by dusty musty forgotten dark corners.

Launch it in a separate player, or just open the mp3
Billy Joel - If I only had the words
Leonor Dely - Para todo hay un signo
Tito Gomez - Aunque no lo digas
Los Amigos Invisibles - Gerundio
Los Aterciopelados - Complemento
Rouge Rouge - Attention
Pablo Mayor - Dobladillo a la lengua
Miriam Makeba - The Click Song
Blackalicious - Alphabet Aerobics
Gilberto Gil - Lingua do Pê
K-G, Sideshow, Musah and Neno - Analyze
John Benjamin Band - More Science

And now, while that plays in the background, let's get on with the show! The one and only yellow card question of the hour, pulled from this perfectly normal deck of electronic cards -- there's no computer special effects here, folks -- well, not very special anyway -- I mean, it's just like a really short python script that picks a random element from an xml file full of questions, and formats it in a yellow-background div element floating in the center of the page, pretty kludgey, really. The text is generally formatted badly, because there's an extra space for some reason in places where there is a line break in the original printed cards, but the actual line breaks in the electronic version is just dependent on html formatting. For example, take a look at this one:

In the printed card, there was a line break between "make" and "the", and so you can see here a little extra space between those words. And then we end up with "place" on a line all by itself. It really loses the poetry of the question. So I would like to make the world a better place by fixing the yellow card script to make the formatting a bit prettier. If I could do that, my life would be complete. I've heard it said that there are other issues in the world, riots, flooding, earthquakes, drought, fires, more flooding, violence of diverse kinds, and even diseased kittens dying slowly. But I can't change the world or rescue every kitten, so I gotta take small steps with what I've got.