Attenuated Language

What’s the longest “narrow” word — the longest word whose handwritten letters keep tidily to the middle of the line?

Dmitri Borgmann considered this question in 1965 and came up with overnervousnesses and overnumerousnesses — 17 and 18 letters.

In 1973 Darryl Francis sought the opposite — “tall” words made up entirely of letters that ascend above the mean line or descend below it. He discovered if, hip, glib, lipid, highly, fifthly, filthify, flightily, and lillypilly.

“I must tell you that my wife has a theory that only thin people can talk English well,” Bismarck told journalist Henri de Blowitz in 1878. “According to this, neither you nor I will make our mark in that language.”