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Jan 24, 2011
This week's theme
Words with no repeating letters

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Recently I came across this book titled Never Again. It's the story of a gambler who wants to correct the mistakes of his past by not doing (or saying) anything again. It's a fine topic for a novel, but that's not what makes the book noteworthy.

It's written with the constraint that no word would be used again in the book. It starts off nicely. Here's the first sentence:

"When the racetrack closed forever I had to get a job."

And then it quickly goes downhill. Here's a sentence from a randomly opened page of the book:

"Environmental breakdown hillsides, counterpotentially, demonstrate stumps bristling clear-cut floodplain backdrop."

But what would you expect when you can't use any word -- including nut-and-bolt words as: in, on, to, for, is, are, he, she, said -- more than once. The writer cheats a little with the use of contractions ("Juicier diversions're proposed.") in an effort to make use of words that have appeared earlier, but that doesn't help much.

In spite of the general unreadability of the book, I applaud the author for the extremely difficult challenge he tackled (as if writing wasn't hard enough by itself). And if you think it's easy to write with such a constraint, try your hand at crafting a paragraph, let alone a 200-page work that uses no articles, no prepositions, and no pronouns more than once.

There's a long tradition of writing with self-imposed constraints. A group called Oulipo has tried many things with constrained writing, often with admirable results. Some examples of constrained writing are lipogram and univocalic.

This week we'll feature five isograms, words with no letters repeated. These are words that say: Never again.



adjective Of or relating to the bottom of a sea or lake.

From Greek benthos (depth of the sea). Earliest documented use: 1902.

"Tuesday night, despite benthic scores once again, Brissie and partner Mark Ballas survived another week on Dancing with the Stars."
Your Daily Dose of Gossip; Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania); Nov 18, 2010.

See more usage examples of benthic in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Among men, it seems, historically at any rate, that processes of co-ordination and disintegration follow each other with great regularity, and the index of the co-ordination is the measure of the disintegration which follows. There is no mob like a group of well-drilled soldiers when they have thrown off their discipline. And there is no lostness like that which comes to a man when a perfect and certain pattern has dissolved about him. There is no hater like one who has greatly loved. -John Steinbeck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1902-1968)

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