I don’t know what it is about haikus that makes them so neat. Maybe it’s because they’re made up of prime numbers (3 lines, 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables, a total of 17 syllables), or maybe it’s because you have so much beauty, artistry and emotion neatly packaged in just three lines. Either way, I think they are pretty neat.
I think I first got the idea to write a language based on haikus around two weeks ago when I was reading about esoteric languages. I was going over the Shakespeare Programming Language (SPL) (which I first heard about from a slashdot post a few years ago) when I started thinking about variations on the same theme (that is, prose or poetry as program code). I then thought “What if a haiku could also be program code?”. Thus, the idea of CherryBlossom was conceived. Initially, I was stumped as to how I could transform a haiku into program code. The structure of a haiku is rather rigid, and I couldn’t think of an easy way to make a language (with variables, functions, and flow-control) because of that rigidity. In comparison, SPL is much more free-flowing since it’s prose. In haiku, you are limited to the number of syllables and lines. Then I thought, “What if the language was minimalistic?”. In that case, all I need to do is figure out a way to map words to a small instruction set! When talking about languages with small (although not too small) instruction sets, there is no better candidate than Brainfuck, which is a Turing-Complete language with only eight instructions. With that in mind, I finally had an idea about CherryBlossom‘s implementation.
Like I mentioned before, the idea behind CherryBlossom is pretty simple. Brainfuck instructions are mapped to words that convey the meaning or essence of the Brainfuck instruction. For example, the > instruction, which moves the pointer forward conveys an essence of moving forward, or up. Hence it makes sense to map it to words that convey a similar meaning. With that idea, I came up with the following mappings:
|> (move pointer forward)||above, ahead, atmosphere, bird, birds, flew, flies, flight, float, floated, floating, floats, fly, flew, flying, forward, front, heaven, heavenly, height, high, higher, hill, hillside, hilltop, mountain, mountainside, mountaintop, push, pushed, pushes, pushing, rise, rises, rising, sky, top, up, upward, upwards (words that convey a sense of forward or upward motion, flying, or height)|
|< (move pointer backward)||back, backward, backwards, behind, below, dip, down, downwards, earth, fall, falling, falls, fell, ground, grounded, land, landed, landing, lands, low, lower, lowered, lowering, lowers, pull, rain, rained, rainfall, raining, rains, reverse, sink, sinking, sinks, snake, snow, snowed, snowfall, snowing, snows, valley, waterfall (words that convey a sense of backward or downard motion, falling, or depth)|
|+ (increment value at current memory location)||alive, add, added, adding, adds, beautified, beautifies, beautiful, beautify, beautifying, beauty, butterfly, butterflies, big, bigger, bloom, bloomed, blooming, blooms, blossom, blossoming, blossoms, caress, caressed, caresses, caressing, cherry-blossom, cherry-blossoms, dawn, day, daybreak, days, dove, doves, dream, dreaming, dreams, dreamy, fat, fattening, fatty, field, fields, fire, flower, flowered, flowering, flowers, fragrance, fragrant, gain, gained, gains, get, gets, getting, good, grew, grow, growing, grows, had, happiness, happy, have, having, heal, healed, healing, heals, heat, heated, heats, hot, jasmine, learn, learning, learns, life, live, love, loved, lovely, loves, loving, lush, many, money, more, morning, new, own, owned, owning, owns, pleased, pleasing, pleasure, positive, pretty, rainbow, rainbows, remember, remembered, remembering, remembers, rose, roses, rosy, smile, smiled, smiles, smiling, spring, steam, steamed, steams, steamy, summer, sun, sunlight, sunlit, sunray, sunrays, sunshine, sweet, sweeten, sweetened, sweeter, sweetly, sweets, warm, warmth, wealth (words that convey a sense of gaining, beauty, increasing, or anything positive)|
|– (decrement value at current memory location)||alone, autumn, anger, angry, bad, barren, break, broke, broken, cold, cool, chill, chilled, chills, chilly, cried, cry, crying, dark, darkening, darker, dead, death, desolate, desolation, depressed, depressing, desert, deserts, die, dies, dusk, dying, evening, evil, fear, fearful, few, fog, fogged, foggy, forget, forgetful, forgetting, forgot, forgotten, forsake, forsaken, freeze, freezing, freezes, froze, frozen, fright, frighten, frightened, frightening, gloom, gloomy, greed, greedy, ice, icy, less, lessen, lessened, lone, lonely, lonesome, lose, losing, loss, lost, melancholy, miss, missed, misses, missing, mist, mistake, mistaken, misted, mists, misty, moon, moonlight, moonlit, moonshine, nothing, night, nightfall, nightmare, old, pain, painful, poor, poverty, rage, remove, removes, removing, sad, sadness, scream, screamed, screams, screaming, shrank, shrink, shrinking, shrinks, shrunk, small, smaller, sorrow, sorrowful, tear, tearful, teary, thin, thins, thinned, thinning, ugliness, ugly, winter, wither, withering, withers, wound, wounded, wounds (words that convey a sense of loss, sadness, decreasing, or anything negative)|
|[ (jump forward past the matching ] if the value at the pointer is zero)||if, why, when, where, how, who, what, inspect, puzzle, question, mull, riddle, decide, branch, branched, branches, branching, mulled, mulling, mulls, decides, deciding, decided, contemplate, contemplating, contemplation, contemplated, contemplates, think, thinking, thought, thinks, choose, chose, choosing, chooses, wonder, wondered, wondering, wonders (words that convey a sense of introspection or conditionality)|
|] (jump backward to the matching [ unless the value at the pointer is zero)||return, home, reunite, returns, returned, returning, reunited, reunites, reuinting, acknowledge, acknowledges, acknowledged, acknowledging, acknowledgement, homecoming, retreat, retreating, retreats, retreated, restore, restoring, restored, restores, revisit, revisited, revisiting, revisits, rebound, rebounded, rebounding, rebounds, boomerang (words that convey a sense of returning)|
|. (print the ASCII character represented by the value at the pointer)||answer, answered, answering, answers, art, artist, author, birdsong, book, brook, creek, display, displaying, displays, flow, flowing, flows, gave, give, giving, laugh, laughed, laughing, laughs, laughter, letter, melodious, melody, music, paint, painter, painting, paints, picture, poem, poet, present, respond, result, river, riverside, said, say, saying, says, show, showed, showing, shows, sang, sight, sing, singer, singing, sings, speak, speaker, speaking, speaks, spoke, stream, view, views, window, word, words, write, writer, writes, writing, wrote (words that convey a sense of speaking or saying)|
|, (input a value and store the ASCII character of that value at the pointer)||absorb, absorbed, absorbing, absorbs, accepted, accepting, accepts, annex, annexed, annexes, annexing, ask, asked, asking, asks, attract, attracted, attracting, attracts, conquer, conquered, conquering, conquers, ditch, fill, filled, filling, fills, hear, hearing, hears, hole, in, indoor, indoors, inside, knew, know, knowing, knowledge, knows, learn, learned, learning, learns, lesson, lessons, question, questioned, questioning, questions, read, reader, reading, reads, receive, received, receives, receiving, suck, sucked, sucking, sucks, taken, takes, taking, taught, teach, teacher, teaching, took, vortex, whirlpool (words that convey a sense of questioning, learning or taking something in)|
|NOP (instructions that don’t do anything)||about, all, and, am, an, at, a, any, are, because, be, by, came, can, come, could, did, do, does, every, everything, for, from, go, he, her, hers, here, him, his, in, i, is, it, man, me, mine, my, no, now, of, one, on, or, our, ours, she, should, some, such, that, them, then, the, their, theirs, there, they, this, to, to, us, was, went, were, will, with, woman, would, yes, you, your, yours (these are words that I added so that it would be easier to write haikus, since it’s hard to construct sentences or phrases without these words)|