It’s easy enough to find movie quotes via Google, but it’s even easier via QuoDB, which tells you exactly where in the movie it’s from. Via Paul Ogden, who says “Amazing. I gave it one line from a movie I was watching and it instantly found the book it came from, with details.”


  1. Any day on which you can find six movies with “Play it, Sam” in them is a good day. Though when I typed “in the original Klingon”, I got two true hits and one false one.

  2. Ken Miner says

    I like it, I like it. Tried “I only feel alone around other people.” (The Iceman). But the lack of such a simple thing as number agreement in these programs still annoys me. You get “About 1 phrases found in 1 titles” – computer people: how hard could this be?

  3. “Ben Hur 1860” comes up empty. Seems that both scenes are missing a few seconds of dialog at the crucial point.

    Both together on TCM.

  4. Getting number agreement right is trivial, which is why it doesn’t get done, because it seems like something unworthy of the great talent we are all supposed to have. Of course, making sure it’s done right in each and every possible place (and language) is not trivial, which is why there are software libraries that package it up for you — which, often enough, programmers or their management refuse to use.

  5. Weird. You’d think it would be embarrassing to have an error so glaring and so easily fixed. I’ve wondered about that too.

  6. Couldn’t find, “Serpentine, Shelly, serpentine.” Lots of “serpentine” quotes that are probably referencing The In-laws, but not the original quote.

  7. Getting number agreement right is trivial

    I’ll take your word for it, my level of numeracy being markedly deficient. Especially irritating to me is Microsoft’s phrasing when seeking to “Uninstall or change a program” in older versions of Windows: “Please wait while the list is being populated.” They have to populate a list? Couldn’t they just compile it?

  8. Basically, you instruct the computer thus: if the number of phrases (call it n) is 1, display “1 phrase”; otherwise, display “n phrases”. That’s all there is to it for English. You just need to be sure and do that in each and every place in the program. If it’s Russian, you need more complicated logic: you have to handle numbers ending in 1 (including 1 itself) one way, numbers ending in 2 to 4 another way, and all other numbers a third way. Arabic needs six separate rules: for 0; for 1; for 2; for 3-10, 103-110, 203-210, etc.; for 11-99, 111-199, 211-299, etc.; and for everything else, including all fractions. For Welsh, the cases are 0, 1, 2, 3, 6 (because 6 is 5 + 1), and everything else. As I mentioned, there are multilingual libraries, but they only know about a very limited number of nouns, typically for units of length, time, mass, etc.

    Both populate and compile are technical terms in the computer business, and the first is the appropriate one, though strictly speaking what’s being populated is not the list but the container in which it’s displayed. Whether they should use technical terms in this context is another question, but it’s hard to use a computer at all without learning a lot of them, which involves learning to suppress the ordinary semantics of the words used`. (Primo Levi thought neologisms would have been better, but too late now.)

  9. The rule (for each language) is trivial, but the morphology and the lexicon aren’t. In the case of English you need to know how to form the plural from the singular given in the programmer’s text — or require the programmer to provide both in every message, which leads to some resistance.

    Getting number agreement right is a good thing, for sure, but there is so much other agreement wanted that I think people give up on it all, sadly. Any kind of message pasting (to avoid a polynomial explosion of strings to translate) is asking for trouble. So there’s a a stilted ‘messagese’ pattern of speech that tries to dodge the whole problem as much as possible.

  10. Both populate and compile are technical terms in the computer business, and the first is the appropriate one

    Granted computers are loaded with technical stuff, and it takes seriously technical people to design them and make them work for everybody else. But the vast majority of users are technopeasants (not to mention the legions of technomenaces). ‘Populate’ may be the technically appropriate verb, yet to the non-technical-but-literate among us it sounds wrong. If it’s technically inappropriate to use ‘compile,’ then how about ‘produce’? E.g., “Please wait while the list is being produced.”

    BTW, for ‘populate,’ the AHD offers only:
    1. To supply with inhabitants, as by colonization; people.
    2. To live in; inhabit: creatures that populate the ocean depths.

  11. it’s the first meaning that is the source of the metaphor here: the frame is being populated with inhabitants, the names of the programs that you might wish to remove or modify. But in my opinion “Please wait” would have been sufficient in this case.

    An example of what Tangent is talking about would be “Phrases found: 1”

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