Monday, June 22, 2009

on words without names.

As an English teacher, and someone who's fond of the written word in general, I find that I think about words a lot. I listen to music a lot of times for the lyrics, and my brothers and I are all pretty fanatical about quoting dialogue from movies back and forth. However, I don't think any of that is weird. I don't even think that Boggle being my favorite board game is weird, nor that I downloaded Scramble for my iPhone and that it's definitely my most-used app.

There are, though, things about my obsession with words that I do think of as strange. Maybe strange isn't the right word, because it's not like I think these thoughts are worrisome, I just wonder if many people think about these things like I do.

As a kid, I flipped when I learned about palindromes and, admittedly, I still think they're very cool. (There used to be this code that you could stick in your AOL profile and one of the options was to have a randomly generated palindrome. I remember Do geese see God? but there were ones that were huge!)

I learned about ambigrams when Grant Morrison made them redesign the logo for X-Men, which became New X-Men. I thought that was pretty cool, and now I guess ambigrams are back in the pop culture sphere with the new Angels&Demons flick.

And, of course, I try to show my kids examples of pangrams as well. It's fun to see them try to figure out what's special about the sentence and it gets them to think of language as a tool, which is nice. There was a great site that was updating pretty almost daily, but appears to have made the move to Twitter.

I'm sure these categories are readily cataloged, and, in fact, even a cursory glimpse over the linked Wikipedia pages reveals many such examples. However, I've started to think of another category of words and I've tried Google searching for a couple different ways of phrasing it but have thus far found nothing.

I'll try to explain, you try to help.

The basic theory is that these are words that you can spell one letter at a time. It's harder than it sounds and might best be served by an example.

1. Do. Doz. (For the purposes of these examples, I'm going to include this abbreviation, simply because it's really hard to think of many that avoid it.) Doze. Dozen. Dozens.

So, all of those words up there are actual words, with the exception of doz. which, as I've noted, is an abbreviation. But I had another example up earlier in a different draft of this post, and it was even worse! I'm super curious about this: does this pattern have a name? Are there examples that work in a much superior way?

For what it's worth, I'm not talking here about the common game wherein we make different words by simply changing one letter - rather, I'm talking about adding a letter but maintaining the structure of a word, albeit a different one. Does that clarify at all?

Help me make a list!

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