[Tutor] New to list & first steps in Python

Chris F Waigl cwaigl at free.fr
Wed Jun 2 21:51:05 EDT 2004

I am thrilled to find that there is a list where beginners can find 
guidance. Thanks for taking the time to help!

I'm interested in natural language processing, and chose Python as a 
programming language. I'm working my way through various tutorials 
right now, but I've only just begun. I've also changed over from W98 to 
Debian GNU/Linux and am not yet familiar with the modules installed on 
my box with Python 2.3. I use Idle, which I find very convenient. 

Right now I'm mostly interested in not adopting bad habits -- learning 
"good" style from the very beginning. In a different life, I used C for 
number-crunching type programming (solving equations and the like), but 
I never particularly enjoyed it. 

Here's my first script not copied from a tutorial. It works, so the only 
question is, should I have done something differently? (Well, it's so 
short, there's not much to _do_.)

from random import *  # or "... import choice" ?
adj1 = []
adj2 = []
nouns = []
file = open("ElisabethInsults", "r")
for line in file.readlines():
    words = line.split()
print "Thou", choice(adj1), choice (adj2), choice(nouns) + "!"

ElisabethInsults is a file containing three rows, 2 x adjectives, 1 x 
nouns, of derogatory words taken from Shakespeare. (If you're 
interested, it's here: http://kastalia.free.fr/misc/ElisabethInsults )
The script creates a random insult, e.g.
"Thou clouted onion-eyed pigeon-egg!"

I'm planning to put together something like a very simple tokenizer, 
something that reads in a text, counts sentences and words, handles all 
the punctuation correctly, tells me something about word frequencies 
and the presence or absence of grammatical structures I might be 
interested in. I'm certainly going to run into a lot of problems soon.

Any comments and recommendations are warmly encouraged.


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