Zack Scholl

Autological words and quines


Exploring meta-behaviors.

The word “noun” is a singular word. It is the only word that is what it is. Such a word is an “autological word” as they posses the property that they express. To determine if X is autological, it requires answering yes to any of the following questions:

Some great examples of autological words are “polysyllabic”, “unhyphenated”, “harmless”, “pentasyllabic”, “real”, and “unique”. Dr. Henry Segerman has a long list of these autological words on his website.

There is analog to autological words in the digital world: “quines”. Quines are non-empty programs that produce a copy of its own source-code as its only output. A Python quine is rather simple:

1s = 's = %r\nprint(s%%s)'

A Golang quine is also pretty simple:

 1package main
 3import "fmt"
 5func main() {
 6    fmt.Printf("%s%c%s%c\n", s, 0x60, s, 0x60)
 9var s = `package main
11import "fmt"
13func main() {
14    fmt.Printf("%s%c%s%c\n", s, 0x60, s, 0x60)
17var s = `

Here’s an Idea: what if you wrote a program that quinified your program? It can take any generic program and then re-write so that it also produces a code of itself.

And here’s a Thought: what are other things in the world that are quines or autologically predisposed? Are there other things that are in themselves representations of itself? Without resorting to The Society of the Spectacle, of course.