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Play On Words
Posted by Brando Dimagiba on 07/04/2013 01:03 PM

In 1939, Ernest Vincent Wright published the novel Gadsby. The story is set on the  declining fictional city of Branton Hills, which is somehow rejuvenated thanks to the efforts of the book's hero, John Gadsby with the help of a youth group he organizes. The novel contained 50,110 words, each one does not contain the letter 'e.' The whole novel is an example of a lipogram, which is a written work from which the author avoids using one or more letters of the alphabet.

Logology used to mean “the scientific study of words.” But in 1965, Dmitri Borgmann resurrected the obsolete term and gave it a new meaning of “recreational letter play.” Logoly, not to be confused with the study of logos, has many topics including lipograms. Below are some of these topics to play with friends or English language professors.

1. Acrostic - a form of writing in which certain letters, usually the first in each line, form a name or message when read in sequence. A fine example is the poem by Edgar Allan Poe entitled “An Acrostic.”
Elizabeth it is in vain you say
Love not — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:
In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.
Zantippe's talents had enforced so well:
Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,
Breath it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.
Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried
To cure his love — was cured of all beside —
His follie — pride — and passion — for he died.
2. Ambigram – a word that looks the same upside down as when right side up, usually with the help of calligraphy. In the book and subsequent movie Angels & Demons, the illuminati ambigram was encountered. Other examples would be NOON and SIS.

3. Anagram – a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. An excellent example would be 'debit card' is an anagram of 'bad credit.'

4. Antigram – a word or phrase that form antonyms when the letters are rearranged. For instance, 'antagonist' is an antigram of 'not against.'

5. Isogram – a word in which no letter of the alphabet occurs more than once; or more broadly, a word in which the letters occur an equal number of times. In a first-order isogram, each letter appears just once like in 'dialogue' or 'uncopyrightable.' In a second-order isogram, each letter appears twice like 'deed' or 'intestines.' And then there are those rare third-order isograms that are unusual in usage like 'deeded.'

6. Marsupial or Kangaroo Word – a word that carry a smaller version/s (joey/s!)of itself within its spelling and have its letters in order within the parent kangaroo word. Example: 'respite' has 'rest,' 'instructor' has 'tutor,' and 'feasted' has 'fed,' 'eat,' and 'ate.'

7. Palindrome - a word, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. For instance, 'Some men interpret nine memos.'

8. Pangram – a phrase or sentence that includes every letter of the alphabet at least once. The most famous of which is 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.'

9. Semordnilap – a close relative of the palindrome, it is a word or name that spells a different word backwards. For example, if you reverse 'diaper' you get 'repaid ' Same for semordnilap, you get palindromes.

10. Tautonym – a word or term made from two identical parts or syllables, such as so-so, tom-tom or Pago Pago.

TAGS: play on words, logology, recreational letter play, anagram, lipogram, acrostic, isogram, pangram

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