I am a logophile. Before you leap to dangerous conclusions, let me explain! I am a lover of words! Words fascinate me, excite me, and intrigue me—the sound of words, the use of words, and the play with words. While I run scared from attempting a Sudoku puzzle (I guess that makes me Numerophobic or Arithmophobic!) I cannot resist any kind of word game or puzzle. Scrabble is the only board game I enjoy. I feel insecure without the presence of my faithful dictionaries on my table, even when I can Google up a word with a single click. I enjoy the act of turning the pages to find the word I am looking for and, in the process, discover at least a few new ones while browsing.
Perhaps the first word that got me hooked was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the film Mary Poppins. It sounded as wonderful as it meant. It took many hours to learn how to say this, and much longer to even dare to spell it out! Though an invented word, it later found its legitimacy in the Oxford English Dictionary. But it could not lay claim to being the longest word in the English language, the title of which is claimed by—take a deep breath—pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis! (a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust.)
Over the years I have been noting down interesting words and word-related things.
Sharing some fun and games with words!
These are words or phrases that read the same in both directions. According to language experts palindromes are the most difficult kind of phrase to create.
The best known example: Madam I’m Adam.
An interesting one: A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama.
And a very clever one!
Doc, note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.
This is a literary work in which one or more letters of the alphabet are excluded. The term lipogram comes from the ancient Greek leipográmmatos, which means ‘leaving out a letter of the alphabet’.
As far back as the 3rd century BC, Greek poet Tryphiodorus wrote an epic of 24 books, each one omitting one letter of the alphabet.
One of the most famous lipograms of more recent times (1939) is a 50,000 word novel called Gadsby. The author Ernest Vincent Wright makes no use of the most frequently used letter of the English alphabet—E.
A tiny extract illustrates how: ‘Upon this basis I am going to show you how a bunch of bright young folks did find a champion: a man with boys and girls of his own; a man so dominating and happy as individuality that youth is drawn to him as is a fly to a sugar bowl.’
From selective exclusion to all-inclusion—that is the Pangram! This is a short sentence containing all 26 letters of the English alphabet. All the worthies who learnt touch typing on a manual typewriter will be glad to learn that the one sentence they pounded out, in endless practice, is the most famous Pangram: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Cheers to all fellow logophiliacs, wordaholics, word fanatics, word nuts, logolepts, verbivores and, the even nobler, epeolatrists (worshipper of words).
May our tribe increase!