Charade sentences devised by Howard Bergerson:
FLAMINGO: PALE, SCENTING A LATENT SHARK! =
FLAMING, OPALESCENT IN GALA TENTS — HARK!
NO! UNCLE-AND-AUNTLESS BE, AS TIES DENY OUR END.
NO UNCLEAN, DAUNTLESS BEASTIES’ DEN YOU REND.
HISS, CARESS PURSUIT, OR ASTOUND, O ROC, O COBRAS!
HIS SCARES SPUR SUITOR, AS TO UNDO ROCOCO BRAS.
HA! THOU TRAGEDY INGRATE, DWELL ON, SUPERB OLD STAG IN GLOOM =
HATH OUTRAGE, DYING, RATED WELL? ON SUPER-BOLD STAGING LOOM!
In the same spirit: 1! 10! 22! 1! = 11! 0! 2! 21!
WON TON spelled backward is NOT NOW.
Concerned that the men of 1768 no longer read the Bible, Edward Harwood decided to translate the New Testament into modern language. The result has been called “turgid,” “absurd,” “ridiculous,” and “one of the most discussed and insulted” Bibles of the 18th century. Samples of his work:
Before: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
After: “Since therefore you are now in a state of lukewarmness, a disagreeable medium between the two extremes, I will in no long time eject you from my heart with fastidious contempt.”
Before: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
After: “As thou hast hitherto most mercifully supplied our wants, deny us not the necessaries and conveniences of life, while thou art pleased to continue us in it.”
Before: “We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed.”
After: “We shall not all pay the common debt of nature, but we shall by a soft transition be changed from mortality to immortality.”
And here’s the Lord’s Prayer:
O thou great governor and parent of universal nature (God) who manifestest thy glory to the blessed inhabitants of heaven–may all thy rational creatures in all the parts of thy boundless dominion be happy in the knowledge of thy existence and providence, and celebrate thy perfections in a manner most worthy of thy nature and perfective of their own! May the glory of thy moral development be advanced and the great laws of it be more generally obeyed. May the inhabitants of this world pay as cheerful a submission and as constant an obedience to Thy will, as the happy spirits do in the regions of immortality.
Harwood said his translation “left the most exacting velleity without ground for quiritation.”
CEDED, DEEDED, MUMMY, MUUMUU, and YUMMY are each typed with one finger.
In 1978, as part of an initiative to adopt gender-neutral language, the city council of Woonsocket, R.I., dubbed its manholes “personholes.”
After two weeks of nationwide derision, they changed their minds.
Time reported, “The council members voted to go back to manholes, indicating that it will be a long time before a person-person delivers Woonsocket’s mail.”
Ross Eckler coined the sentence Unsociable housemaid discourages facetious behaviour.
Each of the five words contains the five major vowels in a different order.
n. one who regards poetry with suspicious dislike
Print our alphabet on a series of dials, like a combination lock, and you can arrange them to spell I GOT UP TO FAINT:
In a sense this sentence is latent in our alphabet; it’s an artifact of the customary order in which we list the letters.
Further hidden messages, for what they’re worth:
- AH ME, I AM A SERBIAN BOY!
- I AM A FRENCH VET; I RAP MY TIN BOX.
- OH, MY LAX FUR PEW! AS IF SHE LET ME BY A CROATIAN DAM.
In Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel Contact, an astronomer discovers that if pi is expressed in base 11, a field of 1s and 0s appears 1020 digits from the decimal point. If carriage returns are inserted at certain intervals, this field produces the image of a circle — apparently the signature of a designer who devised our mathematics itself. But even in the book, no one knows what this means.
n. one who works at night and sleeps during the day
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.
That rhyme has grown a bit boring — so Dave Morice has been spicing it up in Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics. Samples:
Three-syllable words only, November 1998:
Marilyn’s ownership! Minuscule lambikin maximized fleeciness snowily.
Certainly everywhere Marilyn visited lambikin visited showily.
Yesterday lambikin, following Marilyn scholarly, misbehaved lawlessly.
Schoolfellows empathized laughingly, playfully, scholarly lambikin flawlessly.
Typed entirely with the left hand, August 1999:
Eva caged a wee, wee ewe, fat tresses wet as grass.
As Eva raced afar, ewe raced as far! Ewe was as crass.
Ewe started after Eva’s feet, faced ewe at fact cave.
Tads tagged, tads teased, tads raved at ewe, tads saw sweet treats ewe gave.
One long palindrome, November 1988:
Mary, baboon? To go to room? Gnu? Star? No, ’tis all lamb.
O, bit on stool, eh, Mary? Won sore heel? Sit! One rule, so:
No nose lure. No, ’tis Lee, hero, snowy ram. He loots not I, Bob.
Mall, la, sit on rat. Sung–”Moo rot! O, got no, O, baby ram!”
Rhopalic (words of increasing length), May 2000:
O, to own lamb, Mary’s little whitest creature,
Violating legalities, schoolmates interrupting
Schoolteacher entertainingly, disrespectfully,
And “The Lamb’s Viewpoint,” November 2006:
Lambie had a little girl, her hair was white as snow,
And everywhere that Lambie went, the girl was sure to go.
She followed him to graze one day; that was a real disaster.
It made the lambs all baa and bleat to see a girl in pasture.
n. careless handwriting
Of all editorial writers, Horace Greeley was most noted for illegible copy. On one occasion the ‘modern Franklin’ penned something about ‘Suburban journalism advancing,’ but the typesetter, thinking it one of his famous agricultural articles, launched out wildly with the words, ‘Superb Jerusalem artichokes.’ The stories of the wild work made by compositors with Mr. Greeley’s writing are endless, and probably most of them inventions; but the fiction cannot possibly outdo the reality. One of his editorial headings, ‘William H. Seward,’ was turned into ‘William the Third’; and the quotation from Shakespeare, ”Tis true, ’tis pity, and pity ’tis ’tis true,’ came out ”Tis two, ’tis fifty and fifty, ’tis fifty-two.’ That a sign-painter turned the placard ‘Entrance on Spruce’ to put up on the Nassau Street door during repairs, into ‘Editors on a Spree,’ is probably apocryphal; but the familiar legend that a discharged printer took his note of dismissal and used it for a letter of recommendation, securing a place on the strength of the signature, which was all anybody could read, is likely enough to have been true.
– Travelers’ Record, April 1889
See Pen Mystique.
ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL is a word-level palindrome.
So is the witches’ chant FAIR IS FOUL, AND FOUL IS FAIR in Macbeth.
CHOCOLATE contains the words HOT COCOA, each in order.
n. tiresome repetition of words
n. much talk without substance
In the word ARCHETYPICAL, five letters occupy the same positions as in the alphabet — A is first, C third, E fifth, I ninth, and L twelfth.
In the remarkable sentence A bad egg hit KLM wipers two ways, composed by Ross Eckler, fully 16 of 26 letters occupy their alphabetic positions.
n. a painter of unpleasant or sordid subjects
This must mean something — move each letter in COBRA three places forward in the alphabet and you get FREUD:
A musical joke, by J.F. Rowbotham, 1908:
… wrote a musical wit to a friend of his, and in these terms conveyed an invitation to dinner. What is the explanation of it? “One, sharp. Beef and cabbage.” His friend, who was not behindhand at a joke, though by no means so witty as his host, replied:–
… which reads off by the same hieroglyphic: “Not a bad feed. Naturally (natural E) I will be in time.”
Rowbotham also offers this rather mean-spirited message for a vain lady:
Hijinks is the only common English word with three dotted letters in a row. Among proper nouns, Beijing and Fiji are better known than Australia’s Lake Mijijie, but all three lose out to the Katujjijiit Development Corporation, a property development concern in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.
Can we beat this? A reader tells me that pääjääjiiri is Finnish for “main ice mitre,” and possessiveness contains 18 consecutive dots in Morse code.
But the all-time winner must remain H.L. Mencken, who in 1938 ridiculed the New Deal by filling six columns of the Baltimore Evening Sun with 1 million dots — to represent “the Federal Government’s immense corps of job-holders.”
- EPISCOPAL is an anagram of PEPSI COLA.
- Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother died in the same house on the same day.
- Only a perfect square has an odd number of divisors.
- “Makes no sense makes no sense” makes no sense.
- The grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol include working oil rigs.
- “Time is the only critic without ambition.” — John Steinbeck
n. a cocker spaniel of “any solid color other than black”
Barnum used to bring consternation into the hearts of his grocers by complaining that their pepper was half peas. When they protested, he would quietly ask, ‘How do you spell pepper?’ and the catch stood revealed.
– William Shepard Walsh, Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities, 1892
adj. forsaken by a lass
n. the delusion that things are more beautiful than they are