As a game designer, Greg Borenstein’s work explores machine learning, computer vision, drawing, and generative storytelling. With Uncanny X-Bot, he created a Twitter bot that generates plot summaries for X-Men comics that don't actually exist. Now Borenstein is onto another imaginary generative realm with Fantastic Vocab, a Twitter bot that generates “new words with new meanings out of the atoms of English.”
Fantastic Vocab both posts the fictional generative words and defines them. “Endspecient, adj. displaying an indication of being inside of looking or seeing,” reads one tweet. People can also contribute usage examples to provide some imaginary context, as someone did by remixing the first sentences of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice with the tendencies of Republican voters.
In addition to the bot, which began in 2014, Borenstein just released a supplementary website called Dictionary of Fantastic Vocabulary, which is “a compendium of imaginary words and their uses.” The dictionary is already pretty extensive, though certain letters of the alphabet aren’t currently represented.
The bot is the type of creation that Jorge Luis Borges—the surreal fabulist, lover of words, and weaver of infinities and a labyrinths—might have appreciated. For some, Fantastic Vocab might be a just generative curiosity, but like Finnegan’s Wake, which was stuffed (or over-stuffed) with puns and portmanteaus, it can tell us about the malleability of words, particularly when it comes to the incredibly absorbent English language. Let's see what sticks.
Click here to see more of Greg Borenstein’s work.