Experiments in Producing Playful “Explanations” for Given Names (Anthroponyms) in Hebrew and English

  • Yaakov HaCohen-Kerner
  • Daniel Nisim Cohen
  • Ephraim Nissan
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7934)


In this project, we investigate the generation of wordplay that can serve as playful “explanations” for given names. We present a working system (part of work in progress), which segments and/or manipulates input names. The system does so by decomposing them into sequences (or phrases) composed of at least two words and/or transforming them into other words. Experiments reveal that the output stimulates human users into completing explanations creatively, even without sophisticated derivational grammar. This research applies to two languages: Hebrew and English. The applied transformations are: addition of a letter, deletion of a letter and replacement of a similar letter. Experiments performed in these languages show that in Hebrew the input and output are perceived to be reasonably associated; whereas, the English output, if perceived to be acceptable rather than absurd, is accepted as a humorous pun.


Computational Humour English Folk-etymology Hebrew Mockaetiology (playful explanations) Onomastics Puns Wordplay 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaakov HaCohen-Kerner
    • 1
  • Daniel Nisim Cohen
    • 1
  • Ephraim Nissan
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept. of Computer ScienceJerusalem College of TechnologyJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Dept. of Computing, Goldsmiths’ CollegeUniv. of LondonLondonEngland, United Kingdom

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