4.14.2010

Cuz the chicks dig it.

I'm working on a wonderfully picture filled blog, so in the meantime, enjoy this! =) I know I did. But I'm a nerd, so, there ya go.

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Looking at this paragraph with confusion? I'll aid you slightly. Is any odd gap, lacuna or omission obvious to you? Got it now? No?

That's right - this is a lipogram - a book, paragraph or similar thing in writing that lacks a symbol, particularly (but not always) that symbol fifth in rank out of our 26 script-signs (found amidst 'd' and 'f'), which stands for a sound such as that in 'kiwi'. I won't bring it up right now, to avoid spoiling it. I could play with lipograms morning, noon and night. So it is with joy that I submit to you this location – truly, a loquacious location – for lipogram fanatics to join as a unit to glorify this form of wordplay.

As far as I know, this location has a distinct honour: it contains such an abundant quantity of words without using this taboo glyph that no WWW location can outmatch it. As of right now, it contains 1500 words without any hint of that symbol. Naturally, many long lipograms abound in print, including books, rhyming stanzas, and similar works of fiction. Most notably, La Disparition (A Void) by a famous author of a writing group known as Oulipo, stands out as a paragon of lipogrammaticity. I cannot aim to surpass it, but as a fan, I can look upon it with admiration.

Writing lipograms is, as you might think, a difficult task. In my lingo, 2/3 of all words contain that symbol which I am now avoiding, including many common pronouns and similar words commonly found in writing. Without using abbrvs., slang and odd jargon, which most purists scorn as cop-outs, it's darn tough to impart information in a stylistically satisfying way. Stripping paragraphs of particular symbols has a way of making looking at lipograms jarring. No doubt about it, a lipogram is a particularly arduous form of wordplay.

Having said this, acquiring a knack for lipogram composition isn't that hard, and may assist you in your non-lipogrammatic writing. Not to say that I'm without aid in this activity; my dictionary is always handy, as is a book with synonyms for words. And, notwithstanding any drawbacks flowing from passing many an hour looking for unusual ways to say ordinary things, it might aid your socialization skills. Chicks truly dig lipogrammatists, or so my old lady says.


Sadly, a handful of critics find lipograms ridiculous, ugly or without worth (as fiction or as wordplay). To such sorry saps, I say only that in constraining your thoughts and writing in a particular way aids in promoting branching paths of thought, thus amplifying vocabulary and instilling adroit linguistic skills among both young and old. By putting into praxis ways of thinking that wouldn't occur normally, lipograms call for authors to look at writing as an activity in ways that, frankly, wouldn't occur to such niggling adjudicators of linguistic conduct.

Withholding a symbol found in so many words has drastic symptoms that disallow many topics of discussion. (From this point on, I'll stick to talking about that sign I'm skipping right now). Using math is almost an impossibility; you can only maintain 15 of all non-digital words for cardinal quantity up to 100, and hardly any at all past that point, though using digits is a good way out. You can go north or south, but talking about circumnavigating our world latitudinally is an impossibility. How can I possibly talk about various kinds of malt liquor, or parts of my body, without it? To top it all off, as an Anglo, strict prohibitions apply to naming of my own form of linguistic communication. I ought to thank my lucky stars that I'm not writing in lipogrammatic fran├žais, though, which holds on to only an octal portion of its original vocabulary.

But all is not lost. Surprisingly, profanity is mostly intact. As a practicing lipogrammatist, you'll find you want many such words, for it is a task so awkward as to call for cussing and cursing on a normal basis. A world map is truly a blissful oasis; my country (Canada) is totally satisfactory, as with most toponyms for nations (111 out of 186, by my count); with a bit of work, USA, UK, and so on, can still show up, and with twin island nations Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda (both with 17 glyphs) topping my list for prolongation. Musicians (particularly classical artists), astonishingly, hold firm as topics of discussion, with Bach, Bartok, Brahms, Chopin, Dvorak, Haydn, Holst, Liszt, Mozart, Orff, Puccini, Rachmaninov, Rossini, Scarlatti, Schumann, Strauss, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi void of my lost non-consonant.

An additional branch of family Lipogrammatica consists of univocalics. This form of wordplay is akin to a lipogram, but contains a solitary sign that's not a consonant. To wit, a univocalic might omit 'a', 'i', 'o', and 'u' (but what about 'y'?). A univocalic has a sonorant quality that a lipogram lacks, so you must look at a lipogram, but contrarily, a univocalic is both auditory and visual, and has a strong sound if said aloud. Univocalic writing is hard to pull off, but if it's good, its payoff is gigantic.

Taken from the Loquacious Location of Lipograms.

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