Is semordinlap a real word
10 pieces that only exist to annoy people
As mentioned earlier, the English language is full of quirks that allow us to formulate Frankenstein-esque sentences that adhere to the strict rules of grammar - although they look like a typo that even a blind editor would catch. Today we wanted to explore a similar idea and present you with 10 examples of words, sentences and documents that seem to exist for no other reason than to show how stupid language can be.
10The longest word in the English language
We'll be honest, our spell checker just gave up when we tried to type in "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" and we really can't blame it. At an astonishing 45 letters, it's one of the longest words in the entire English language, dwarfing its better-known cousin "Antidisestablishmentarianism" by 17 whole letters.
So what does it mean? Well, the word can technically be used to describe a very specific medical condition that can result from inhaling fine silica or dust, but it would be hard to find a doctor who even knows the word because of the condition described above already has a much shorter medical name: pneumoconiosis.
"Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" was coined in 1935 by a man named Everett Smith in a deliberate attempt at a very long word. Smith got the word by combining a number of Latin terms before presenting it to the National Puzzlers' League (NPL) during a presentation on "the ever-increasing length of medical words." Smith, the president of the NPL on Die Zeit, neglected to mention to anyone in attendance that the word was actually not a medical term, or that he was the one who came up with it. Even so, a few years later the word was able to "somehow" sneak its way into a dictionary to officially make it a real word, much to the annoyance of those who weren't in the NPL. This, of course, led to the sadly unproven rumor that they were responsible for getting it included in the dictionary.
In the literary world, there is a technique called "compulsory writing". Here the author of a work deliberately chooses to limit himself in some way, such as by rhyming every other line with the first, or making each sentence begin with a different letter of the alphabet. Gadsby is perhaps one of the most famous examples of this writing style as it doesn't even use the letter "E", despite being over 50,000 words.
The author of GadsbyEarnest Wright wrote the novel in 1936 after his friends insisted that such a feat could not be done without destroying the English language. Driven by his friends' skepticism, Wright went home, tied the "E" key to his typewriter, and wrote his obscure masterpiece in just under six months. Unfortunately, Wright died just two months after finishing the novel. In the end, a crazy fire burned almost every copy of his book.
Fortunately, some copies of the book survived, and thanks to the wonders of copyright law, it is now publicly available. That said, anyone can read it for free, which we highly recommend - if only for the part where a wedding cake is called an "amazing loaf of culinary art". Genius.
A semordnilap is broadly described as "a word, phrase, or phrase that can be read conversely with a different meaning".
For example, the word "dog" when written backwards turns into "God," which is obviously a very different word unless you follow the most lovable religion of all time. The word was coined by the famous word nerd Dimitri Borgmann to describe a special type of word that wasn't a palindrome (a word or phrase that reads the same thing backwards as it does backwards) but was nonetheless useful as a linguistic curiosity.
Eagle-eyed readers may have already noticed that the word "Semordnilap" is itself a Semordnilap of the word "palindrome", which means that "Semordnilap" is a self-referential word or a word that can be used to define itself. To make this more confusing, although semordelaps are incredibly rare in general English, there are at least four words to describe them including "anadromous", "volvogramme", "heteropalindromes" and our personal favorite "backwords".
We don't think anything sums up how stupid the English language is made up of more than five different words describing some kind of word that becomes a new word when you write it backwards, one of which becomes another word when it is is written backwards.
7 'lion-eating poet in the stone cave'
Moving away from English for a moment, we would like to discuss a delightful Chinese riddle called "The Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Cave". The puzzle was written by a Chinese linguist named Yuen Ren Chao as an example of how ridiculous it was to translate classical Chinese into English.
While the poem on paper makes perfect sense in Classical Chinese, which is traditionally a written language, if you asked someone to read it out loud and then transcribed what you heard in English, you would have nothing else than that The word “shi” is repeated several dozen times, with each word being bent differently.
This is because the puzzle is made entirely of homophonic characters that can be interpreted differently depending on the pronunciation, but since the piece is written exclusively with different pronunciations of a single word, it becomes for everyone except those familiar with the language knowledgeable, quickly incomprehensible if it is read aloud. More than proves to Ren Chao that Classical Chinese requires a more robust translation method than just writing down what you hear.
6That is not what it is
The above sequence of words was put together primarily to help people check for their correct punctuation. Although the phrase at first glance looks like one of our editors is a bit overwhelmed with CTRL + C, with a few well-placed dots, a single comma and a question mark, it suddenly makes sense and can be read as: “This is, is. That's not it. Is that it? It is."
The phrase is used for two reasons: Two reasons: to demonstrate the importance of punctuation and to make other people feel stupid for not being able to understand it. An example of the latter appears quite prominently in the 1968 film Charly, in which the character of the same name uses the phrase to demonstrate his intellectual superiority after an operation to increase his intelligence.
There is an oft-repeated joke that begs the question, "If a word in the dictionary is misspelled, how do you know?" As interesting as the thought is, we have a better question for you: dictionary into an invented word, how would we know which one it was?
As strange as it sounds, this exact scenario happened a few years ago in 2005 when Henry Alford, an editor for The New Yorker, heard the rumble that the New Oxford American Dictionary had a made up word hidden somewhere in its "E" area. After an extensive search interviewing some of the leading experts in lexicography, Alford found a single entry in the second edition of the NOAD that was not true either with him or with the experts he had consulted: “equivalence”.
According to NOAD"Equivalence" is defined as "the willful avoidance of one's official duties". When Alford contacted the NOAD To ask where the word had come from, he was surprised to learn that it had actually been invented by one of the two NOADEditors especially for plagiarists. The editors argued that since the word "esquivalience" existed only within the confines of their dictionary, if it appeared in another dictionary, they could be fairly certain that the competitor had plagiarized some of its other definitions.
In other words, the NOAD made up a word just to catch plagiarism and then defined that word as really bad about your job, only to rub it in in case they were ever caught.
4'I am the walrus'
In 1967, John Lennon received a letter from a young fan that brought the undeniable beginnings of a grin on his face. According to the letter sent by a student in high school where he graduated, students were sung into the Beatles' lyrics to find out what they meant. Seizing the opportunity to fail, Lennon sat down with the sole aim of writing the deliberately dullest song he could think of. The result was "I am the walrus".
The song contains nonsensical lyrics like "Sitting on a Cornflake" and "Yellow Vanilla Pudding That Drips from the Eye of a Dead Dog". The latter was inspired by a song Lennon sang in school to annoy his teachers. The song also contains a sound clip from a production by King Lear that Lennon insisted on being included in the recording just because it was on the radio when the band was in the studio. As the icing on the cake, Lennon asked that the sound guy make his voice as distorted as possible to make the lyrics so much harder to hear.
Unsurprisingly, the song was immediately dismantled by fans who found a host of hidden double meanings behind the professionally written lyrics in a song written by Lennon to prevent people from doing just that. It's almost like people don't remember, and John Lennon was not only an amazing lyric poet, he had a sense of humor too. Remember, this is the same guy who answered "My wife" to the question "What is your favorite girl?"
According to the person who invented this word, it is pronounced "shaw".
The word was first defined by Rupert Hughes in his book in 1903 The musical guide, according to which a zzxjoanw is a kind of Maori drum. Hughes' definition of the word, its spelling and pronunciation remained unchallenged for 70 years. He even managed to find his way into a dictionary before it was found that Hughes had invented the word just to see if people would believe him.
What makes this doubly weird is that the first three letters of the word aren't even in the Maori alphabet, meaning Hughes' joke should realistically have been debunked within minutes. Instead, it survived him, and even today there are still hardcore Scrabble players who insist that it is a real word.
Unlike some of the other words we introduced to you today, there is no agreed-upon way to pronounce "Hiybbprqag" as it only exists as a nonsense word created with perhaps the greatest intention of annoying Microsoft.
Ever since Microsoft launched Bing in 2009, Google has accused the service of tearing down search results, but has never been able to prove it. Unwaveringly, Google employees created a bunch of nonsense words like "Hiybbprqag" and linked them to completely disjointed web pages so that searching for the word on Google would result in a single page that was completely unrelated to the search term.
As Google had expected, if a user tried to search for "Hiybbprqag" using the service, Bing suddenly returned the same results as Google within a few weeks, even though the two sides were completely independent except for the artificial connection that Google had made itself . Unsurprisingly, Microsoft denied they copied Google's search results, which almost didn't fool anyone. The story was quickly picked up and even shown by the media The Colbert Report. As a final insult to Microsoft, if you search for "Hiybbprqag" using Bing now, one of the first results is a Wikipedia page discussing the allegations that Bing is stealing from Google.
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
Fans of the Simpsons will likely instantly recognize the word "cromulent" as one of the show's most popular and enduring neologisms. The word first appeared in the 1996 episode "Lisa the Iconoclast" where it was used to describe another popular Simpsons neologism, "Embiggen". The word was coined by longtime Simpsons writer David X. Cohen and used specifically in the episode because it somehow sounded like a real word.
The irony is that while the word was coined with the intent to annoy fans by forcing it to look up a dictionary to see if the word was really real, it became so popular that it is now used in the mainstream lexicon was taken and actually became a proper word which, when we say it ourselves, is a perfect ending.
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