Index I generates “new words” by affixing Greek & Latin prefixes to nouns in the English language. This combinatory word-processing occurs through the poetic intervention of an algorithm & a bot we created (called Geneword) that generates a vast permutational series of selected prefixes and nouns, and can also place these “new words” randomly within a wide range of texts of different genres and forms. The tiered parameters of Index 1 are defined by two sets of nouns: the first is “all nouns,” which consists of 37,199 different nouns, and the second is a smaller set that we are calling “common nouns,” which consists of 1514 nouns. By using 168 prefixes, the algorithm produces over 9 million “new words,” not counting redundancies.
All nouns and definitions are sourced from the WordNet database.
Index I is designed to be a playful provocation and serious starting point for imagining what new words for things can do. With a simple gesture, this algorithm aims to permanently expand the English language, and to find out what happens (expressively & poetically) when such new spaces are created. This feels particularly important in a time when languages of power are being used and abused to limit our vision of what is possible, rather than opening up new pathways of meaning-making and ways of being in the world. This is the power of language — a’bra c’dabra — i create as i speak.