Boredom is just another word for nothing to say

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 April, 2005, 12:00am

When I am bored out of my mind and then some, I have two remedies. The first is to drink so much coffee that I start to shake and hallucinate. The second is to play with those time-killing, word-spewing online oddities: language generators.

My favourite is the Dialectizer (, a redneck lingo generator. I have never actually met a real redneck. My closest encounter came when I once saw a couple of beefy, bearded blokes in a jeep sporting a Confederate flag in the Castro district of San Francisco. Perhaps they were merely making a butch fashion statement.

But I bet that rednecks talk just as the Dialectizer makes out, if at less length. Either way, the Dialectizer is quite slick - like that easy option for dodgy linguists, Babelfish, it translates a webpage once you feed it the address.

I offer A property headline degenerates into a torrid procession of mangled nouns and apostrophes: 'Click har fo' th' latess residential transackshuns info'mashun fo' Hong Kong islan', Kowloon an' Noo Territo'ies.'

For no apparent reason my first name morphs into Abner.

In the interests of balance, I scour for a politically correct online generator that will change 'girl' to 'pre-woman', 'ugly' to 'under-attractive' and 'redneck' to 'rustically inclined', for example.

No luck. I only manage to find an Alanis Morisette lyric generator that asks you to enter the name of 'one thing you really hate'. I write 'Alanis Morisette' then quit the program when confronted by the next request, which is for 'Six plural nouns that have something to do with that thing.'

Language generators should deliver their verbiage effortlessly. The Corporate Bull**** Generator (****.htm) is much easier. All you do is click on the button emblazoned with the word 'GO' and perfectly crafted claptrap you read in the financial pages about growing robust markets and deploying cutting-edge technologies appears on the screen with a cash register sound (nice touch).

But speech generation technology comes into its own in the context of insults. Whether you prefer crude, Shakespearian, brutal, Arabian or plain lowbrow, all are catered for and pretty much all are unprintable, except perhaps the understated, but cutting, 'Get an STD'.

You wonder how many friendships and partnerships these sites have wrecked. Ditto the swarms of alibi generators that tell you how to dump someone, avoid paying tax or wriggle out of any predicament.

If you want to wriggle into someone's good books, consider visiting The Surrealist Compliment Generator ({tilde}lynn/jardin/SCG/). Prompted to life by reloading the page, it tells me that my hands do the work of 10,000 highly trained lesbian jumping beans.

When I reload, this time it drools: 'Wood nymphs sprinkle your path with bowling balls while you dance and prowl in the sequined moonlight with leftover heads of lettuce.'

On reflection, the first compliment sounds somewhat barbed. The second sounds a touch threatening.

I feel equally unsure about the spirit of a virtual cousin, the Compliment Generator ('num=1). Maybe it is sincere in its flattery or maybe it is just sarcastic. 'You are clearly an unstoppable avatar of a prodigy!' it says. Hm. While obviously true, it raises the spectre of the bull**** generator.

Whether these generators will ever prove truly useful looks doubtful, however. Persuasive communication stems from - and rests on - a sense of something too subtle for computers: context. Or, if you're a redneck, 'corntext'.