The N+7 Machine
The N+7 procedure, invented by Jean Lescure of Oulipo, involves replacing each noun in a text with the seventh one following it in a dictionary. (In French, it is also referred to as the 'S+7' procedure.)
Here you can enter an English text and 15 alternative texts will be generated, from N+1, which replaces each noun with the next one in the dictionary, to N+15, which takes the 15th noun following.
You can type in your own text or copy and paste from another source (Project Gutenberg is a good source of well-known texts).
Or if you're lazy, you can look at some of the pre-generated examples.
There's probably a limit to how large a text you can paste in, but in any case a few paragraphs will probably provide sufficient entertainment.
- The N+7 Machine is not very clever - although it has some basic rules about plurals, there are quite a few plurals it cannot identify. This may be fixed in due course. It works by basic word substitution - it has no syntactical or other grammatical knowledge.
- The large dictionary used for this procedure still needs tidying up, as it contains a few words that are not nouns and seems to have a few quite common nouns missing. Also it includes many nouns that are more common as verbs (e.g. rise, abandon), so some verbs will be replaced as well, and the resulting texts may be less syntactically correct than if the small dictionary is used. You can prevent a word being treated as a noun by prefixing it with
- The small dictionary, obviously, will overlook quite a few nouns in a text, particularly if they are relatively uncommon. But this dictionary will less often make substitutions for other parts of speech than the large dictionary. This dictionary will probably give better results for texts with more limited vocabulary. Also, it will more often substitute words that are semantically remote from the nouns in the original, as it contains many fewer compounds for core vocabulary like eye and sun.
- At present, neither dictionary is circular. In principle, with enough iterations, all nouns would be replaced with zone (small dictionary) or zoom (large dictionary).
- The site doesn't keep any record of the submitted or generated texts. If you find a text that gives particularly good results, please feel free to mail me at email@example.com.
- More on the N+7 procedure will be found in the Oulipo Compendium.
- There's more literary and verbal piffle at The Spoonbill Generator.