Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rhopalic Contest

As I typed the date for today's post, I realized that 30 years ago today I moved to this part of Michigan. Wow. I think I just felt an artery harden. Or maybe it was a root. I seem to have put down a few.

Hey, I learned a new word recently: "rhopalic." It basically means something that gets subsequently longer. It was first applied to poetry where each line of the poem grew longer, but was then also applied to the number of syllables in a word. The Washington Post Style section recently held a contest to come up with a sentence where each subsequent word was one *letter* longer than the last. Here are a few results that tickled my fancy.


Go out west, urged Taylor swiftly.

My bra fits lower, darnit, because gravity's heartless.

The weak vegan senses: Sauteed reindeer satisfies completely!

King Midas dreamt, feeling giltless.

Palin writes notably readable biography: Republican womanifesto.

"I Am Sam, Play Again" ... Seuss's rhyming revision refreshes "Casablanca."

U Nu, the only Burma leader elected, provides countless palindrome enthusiasts interminable entertainment.

"Oh, you heel!" cried direly injured Achilles.

"I do," she says. Groom silent.

I am not with child, merely heavier. Imbecile.

[selected from the Washington Post Style Invitational]


WONDER for YOUR WEEK: Is it mere coincidence that "silent" and "listen" are spelled using the same letters?


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SusanB said...

I have had someone make that "with child" mistake with me once. However, it was a nice lady from church, so I didn't have the heart to call her an imbicile. ;P
Then there was my 39th birthday... the 70-something year old bagger at the grocery store asked me which 39th birthday it was for me. The nerve!! hahahahaaaa!! I told him "The only one God gives me!" heeheeheee. =)

Anonymous said...

It would have been fairer to the original authors of the rhopalic sentences to credit them directly, rather than merely attributing everything to the Style Invitational.

Mark said...

Fair enough. I will take your suggestion under advisement should I do this again. In the meantime, here's a link to the original article from the Washington Post. Some entries may not be considered family friendly.

And I think you have to register for site access, but it's free.

Click here.

Craig D said...

While you are taking Anonymous' suggestion "under advisement," perhaps you should consider also not changing the original author's entries. You certainly have the right to not print information in your Musings which you deem not "family friendly" but it seems a bit unfair to rewrite material under ownership of the Post (see entry #2 in your list).

I fear these two comments could discourage you from reprinting Style Invitational results in the future. I hope that's not the case. I'd venture to guess that people who contribute humorous material to that contest, some quite religiously, always appreciate seeing their work appear in other forums.

Mark said...

No, Craig, you're right, you're right. I probably should have just left that entry out, but I liked it too much. Were I the only one reading - and, believe me, I'm grateful I'm not - I wouldn't have touched it, but I've been taken to task by so many over even lesser things that I fear I've grown gun-shy and I've settled for this middle ground where I do edit the original text.

I imagine the solution is to either not print the "offending" entry, or to make sure my readers know that it has, in fact, been edited for family friendliness.

mkilby said...

One reason that both S.I. credits and subsequent editing are sensitive issues is that the results of Style Invitational contests have frequently been hijacked and passed around as e-mail chain letters. The pirated versions normally delete the names of the entrants (in some cases so that the forwarder can claim credit as author or collator), or the contest itself is renamed (for example, the "Mensa Invitational", which even brought Mensa to post a disclaimer on their website).

Mark said...

mkilby, all the more reason to get the credits right.

Long time readers of my posts know that I take pains to let you know where I find my material, and I certainly appreciate it if people who forward or reprint my post do the same.

Mercy. I had no idea the Style Invitationals were so widely read.