Walter van Heuven

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Screenshot of Pseudo

Pseudo is a program that generates nonwords from a list of words by randomly substituting one or more letters, transposing two letters, or by adding/inserting/deleting one or more letters. Multiple constraints (e.g., minimum bigram or trigram frequency) can be applied so that the generated nonwords become word-like strings that are more likely pronounceable (i.e., pseudowords). Furthermore, generated nonwords can be checked against one or more lexicons to make sure that it is not an actual word in a language.

Pseudo also automatically checks whether a newly generated nonword is already in the list of generated nonwords. When the program is unable to generate a nonword (e.g., due to strict constraints), it adds a "<" and ">" around the source string and copies this to the list of nonwords. The program can also generate all possible nonwords from a single letter string. First, enter a single letter string as source and then select "Generate all nonwords" in the menu "Generate".

The program calculates (position specific and position non-specific) letter, bigram, and trigrams frequencies from a word frequency database (e.g., SUBTLEX-UK) and these can be used to generate more word-like nonwords. The lexicon file format needs to be plain text (e.g., ASCII, UTF8 format) with two columns separated by a space or tab. The first column should contain words and the second column word frequencies. Letter, bigram and trigram frequencies can be viewed in the program and saved to a text file.

Pseudo can generate nonwords in alphabetic and non-alphabetic languages. Vowels and consonants need to be defined for languages other than English and the character set of a non-alphabetic language can be imported into the program.

Current version Pseudo: 2.07 (4 March 2016)


Note: drag the 'Pseudo' folder to the Desktop and double click on 'Pseudo.jar' to start the program.

Pseudo is written in Java and runs on any computer with Java 1.8 or higher installed. Download the latest version of Java for your platform here.

When you open Pseudo.jar on OS X you might get an unidentified developer message. Right click on the Pseudo.jar file and select "Open" or follow the instructions in this pdf file to start Pseudo.