Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today's Word: matriarchy

matriarchy: A social system in which mother's are the heads of their families, clans, or tribes.

Today's word is in honor of my grandmother, Margaret, who passed away in her sleep last night at the age of 93. She was a true matriarch in our family, not passing down judgements but blessings. If a new grandchild or great-grandchild was born into the family, not two weeks would pass before the family would make the pilgrimage to Bargersville, Indiana, to introduce that child to "Grandma Margie" and, essentially, to get her blessing upon the child.

She was respected and loved, in the community and in her family. The family won't be the same without her.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dam Max: Beyond Anadrome

My apologies to my readers for not posting in so long. I've had a lot to do in preparation for a big concert by the Indiana Wind Symphony, I'm trying to keep my head above financial waters with some freelance editing, and I've been pecking away at an upcoming 26-part series for this blog.

(Hmm. A 26-part series on a blog about words. How might they be organized?)

But when @Wordnik posted its list of the day today, I knew I had to get over here and share it, because it reveals a word I've been looking for my entire life. That word?

Anadrome: A word that, when you reverse the letters, spells another word.

We're all familiar with palindromes -- racecar, Bob, tit. Anadromes, though, spell a different word when read backward: reined/denier, reward/drawer, stop/pots, stressed/desserts. I'll leave it to Wordnik's crowdsourcing to offer a more comprehensive list of anadromes.

Other names have been given for this linguistic phenomenon, too: backwords, volvograms, heteropalindromes, semordnilap, and revers(o)grams, to name a few. Until now, I've always referred to anadromes just as anagrams (which they are) because I didn't know what else they were called. But not anymore.

But now the big challenge begins.

Creating palindromic sentences has been a pastime for quite a while, to the point that most of best ones are well-known: A man, a plan, a canal -- Panama. Dennis and Edna sinned. Sex at noon taxes. Able was I ere I saw elba. (This last is a palindromic sentence made entirely of anadromes.)

The big challenge is this: Create an anadromic sentence that isn't palindromic. Whoever comes up with the longest, bestest one wins -- well, nothing from me, but most likely a permanent place in the annals of logodaedaly.