I7 6E72: Table Problem

I’m sure there’s a simple solution to this, but it’s beyond me.

I have a simple table with two columns. One of the columns is labeled “topic.” When I try:

[code]choose a random row in the Table of Example;
say “[topic entry], for instance.”;

Table of Example
topic reply
Infinite Jest “Heavily influenced by my End Zone.”


I get:

Problem. You wrote 'say "[topic entry], for instance."'  , and in particular 'topic entry': but this asked to say something of a kind which can't be said, or rather, printed. Although this problem can arise when you use complicated text substitutions which come in variant forms depending on the kinds of value used, far more often what this means is just that you tried to use a substituted value (e.g., in 'say "The dial reads [V]."') of a kind which could not be printed out. For instance, if V is a number or a piece of text, there is no problem: but if V is a parsing topic, say an entry in a 'topic' column of a table, then this problem will arise.
I was trying to match one of these phrases:

1. say "topic entry - text" 
2. say "[topic entry - number]" 
3. say "[topic entry - unicode character]" 
4. say "[topic entry - sayable value]" 
5. say "", for instance." - text" 
This was what I found out:

topic entry = a table entry, holding a topic

I thought there might be some ambiguity in the word “topic” there that was throwing things off, so I’ve tried to change the column heading, but this results in a fatal compiler error:

Problem. An internal error has occurred: compiled a generic specification. The current sentence is Infinite Jest [I've changed this to match the above] ; the error was detected at line 89 of "Chapter 16/Compiling from Specifications.w". This should never happen, and I am now halting in abject failure.

There’s also a line that reads: "instead of asking Don DeLillo about a topic listed in the Table of Example: say “[reply entry][paragraph break]”. (That’s formatted properly in the code itself.) I think that the word “topic” there has a syntactical meaning independent of the column heading, but the fatal error results if I change the column heading without changing it. (If I do change it to the new column heading, it doesn’t seem to recognize it.)

Thank you in advance.

I can see now that I misunderstood the special nature of the topic column.

If you do have a long table with a topic column, however, and you want to grab a random entry from that topic column, is there a way to do it without copying the table?

I could be misunderstanding what you want here, but if you want a random entry from a topic table, you can just say for example [reply entry] after choosing a random row.

I want(ed) a random topic from a topic table.

I’ve made another table to handle this now, but I would guess that there would be a way to avoid duplication. The problem, even if so, is that the topic column has a lot of “this/that” and “the thing” or “thing” or “the purple thing” type of entries, which I would imagine would be a problem to parse even if they are accessible. So the cleaner table is probably simpler.

Right. A topic cannot be printed for exactly that reason. A topic is a function that asks a question, not an inert piece of text to be manipulated by functions.