The height of control

Posted on Fri 23 May 2014 @ 3.44am UTC

constrained writing in commerce

ARE there any grammatically sound sentences in English where every word starts with the same letter?

This kind of writing is called constrained writing.

The French-speaking world has a word for it — Oulipo (pronounced ‘oo-lee-poh’), a contraction of Ouvroir de littérature potentielle (‘workshop of potential literature’). To cut a long story short, Oulipo is about “freeing literature by tightening its rules” (as The Guardian newspaper puts it) to see what ‘literature’ could be rather than what it is.

Ouvroir — because it intends to work

littérature — because it’s a question of literature

potentielle — because it has various potentials

Oulipo supporters are interested in the idea of constrained writing techniques to create bleeding-edge literature because it can produce some unexpected results. In other words, constrained writing is arguably an artform using words.

Why are we getting verbatim quotes instead of a link?

This cop-out post will quote some of them — just so that everybody knows this blog is not dead or abandoned or something nasty had happened.

The Infobahn Intarwebz Internet being what it is, pretty soon these morsels of language cleverness will disappear forever…

All of the below are examples of the person having first-class control of the language.

(Featured image above via Printerest)

* * *



(via c4c)

No, none. It is impossible.

— by Teris Riel

I ignore ignorant idiots implementing insane ideologies. But baffled Betty believes blatant bogus beliefs.

— by Rachel Fields


Actors act.
Bloggers blog.
Curators curate.
Drivers drive.
Editors edit.
Farmers farm
Guards guard.
Haters hate.
Interns intern.
Jugglers juggle.
Knitters knit.
Lovers love.
Medics medicate.
Nurses nurse.
Operators operate.
Programmers program.
Quitters quit.
Rockstars rock.
Singers sing.
Tranquilizers tranquilize.
Ushers usher.
Vendors vend
Waiters wait.
Yodelers yodel.
Zookepers zap.

— by Krishnabh Medhi, hacker

* * *


Writing a ‘story is hard enough even for the reasonably educated. To write a story with all sentences starting with the same letters is reasonably said to be impossible. Until we have a flood of them, like below.

filthy alphabet mug

(via c4c)

Andrew asked Annabel about Alcoholics Anonymous. But because babes buy bubbly beverages, Bel bickered. Can’t couples communicate? Duh! Drunk dumb-dumbs debate. Everyone enjoys elocution. Flibbertigibbets flatter fellas; fellas fraternize. God, gabbers get grating! However, handsome hombres have healthy habits. I include Ignatz. Jesus! Jennifer justifies jealous jeering. Kindness keeps kin kinda kinky. Luckily, lovers likely love licking luscious legs. Meanwhile, Marcus marvelously mangles meaning. No! Neither nuance nor novelty negates negativity. Only Ontology, Orientalism, or Orthography obviate overdoing Occultism. Perhaps purple prose permeates popular periodicals. Quite! Quit quibbling! Quixotically queer queens quip quietly. Right? Radical reactionaries really resent redundancies. Really, really, really! So, stay silently stealthy. The timidity towards Teutonic tonic turns technically terrific talk to tittle-tattle. Understand? Unlikely. Unless users utilize unusual unicode. Very vexing! Well, we will wait without worrying, won’t we? What words will we write? “Xu”? “Xi”? “Xis”? “Xyst?” Yes! You yammering yokels yack, yack, yack. Yawn! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz …

— by Marcus Geduld, published author

siege of belgrade 1717

The Siege of Belgrade, 1717 (via Wikipedia)

“The Siege of Belgrade”
by Alaric Alexander Watts

An Austrian army, awfully arrayed,
Boldly by battery besieged Belgrade;
Cossack commanders cannonading come,
Dealing destruction’s devastating doom;
Every endeavor engineers essay
For fame, for fortune, forming furious fray!

Gaunt gunners grapple, giving gashes good;
Heaves high his head, heroic hardihood;
Ibraham, Islam, Ismail, imps in ill,
Jostle John, Jarovlitz, Jem, Joe, Jack, Jill;
Kick kindling Kutosoff, kings’ kinsmen kill,
Labor low levels loftiest, longest lines;
Men marched ’mid moles, ’mid mounds, ’mid murd’rous mines.

Now nightfall’s near, now needful nature nods,
Opposed, opposing, overcoming odds.

Poor peasants, partly purchased, partly pressed,
Quite quaking, Quarter! quarter! quickly quest.

Reason returns, recalls redundant rage,
Saves sinking soldiers, softens seigniors sage.

Truce, Turkey, truce! truce, treach’rous Tartar train!

Unwise, unjust, unmerciful Ukraine!

Vanish, vile vengeance! vanish, victory vain!

Wisdom wails war–wails warring words. What were
Xerxes, Xantippe, Ximenes, Xavier?

Yet Yassy’s youth, ye yield your youthful yest,
Zealously, Zarius, zealously zeal’s zest.

(via John Cowan)

absolutely nothing

(via Uncyclopedia)

Banal bantering boggled Bill’s brain.
Clearly, cunning can confirm concepts.
Dumb dolts don’t doubt deceptions.
Every elephant eluded each egret.
Fanny’s frog’s fit for freedom.
Go greet Greg’s gunner.
Hoosiers have hogs.
Ignore irritants.
Jogged jelly jiggles.
Kipper keeps killing kittens.
Ladies lounging linger languidly.
Many meerkats mingle merrily.
Needless numbers negate neatness.
Only Oliver opines openly.
Please pardon Paul politely.
Queer Quora questions quietly queue.
Regals resist rowdy rogues.
Sam seriously slandered Sally’s solution.
Tom truculently touched tender topics.
Ursula uulated unmelodiously.
Victor vexed Vivan’s visitors.
We willingly waged war.
Xerxes xeriscapes Xanthus.
You yodeled yesterday.
Zoa zip zestily.

— by Gregory Scott, photographer and retired database analyst


alphabet aerobics blackalicious

“Alphabet Aerobics”
by Blackalicious

(image via Vimeo)

Artificial amateurs, aren’t at all amazing
Analytically, I assault, animate things

Broken barriers bounded by the bomb beat
Buildings are broken, basically I’m bombarding

Casually create catastrophes, casualties
Cancelling cats got their canopies collapsing

Detonate a dime of dank daily doin’ dough
Demonstrations, Don Dada on the downlow

Eatin’ other editors with each and every energetic
Epileptic episode, elevated etiquette

Furious fat fabulous fantastic
Flurries of funk felt feeding the fanatics

Gift got great global goods gone glorious
Gettin’ godly in his game with the goriest

Hit ’em high, hella height, historical
Hey holocaust hints hear ’em holler at your homeboy

Imitators idolize, I intimidate
In a instant, I’ll rise in a irate state

Juiced on my jams like jheri curls jockin’ joints
Justly, it’s just me, writin’ my journals

Kindly I’m kindling all kinds of ink on
Karate kick type Brits in my kingdom

Let me live a long life, lyrically lessons is
Learned lame louses just lose to my livery

My mind makes marvelous moves, masses
Marvel and move, many mock what I’ve mastered

Niggas nap knowin’ I’m nice naturally
Knack, never lack, make noise nationally

Operation, opposition, off, not optional
Out of sight, out of mind, wide beaming opticals

Perfected poem, powerful punchlines
Pummelling petty powder puffs in my prime

Quite quaint quotes keep quiet it’s Quannum
Quarrelers ain’t got a quarter of what we got uh

Really raw raps, risin’ up rapidly
Riding the rushing radioactivity

Super scientifical sound search sought
Silencing super fire saps that are soft

Tales ten times talented, too tough
Take that, challengers, get a tune up

Universal, unique untouched
Unadulterated, the raw uncut

Verb vice lord victorious valid
Violate vibes that are vain make em vanished

? well would a wise wordsmith just
Weaving up words weeded up, I’m a workshift

Xerox, my X-ray-diation holes extra large
X-height letters, and xylophone tones

Yellow back, yak mouth, young ones yaws
Yesterday’s lawn yards sell our yawn

Zig zag zombies, zoomin to the zenith
Zero in zen thoughts, overzealous rhyme Zea-lots!

(via Jeewon Kim)

Good … can you say it faster? Admittedly, this contains the occasional word starting with a different letter. Still, it’s epic.

* * *


f and u someecards



Absolutely. Assembling an appropriate answer appears achievable, assuming an articulate author appropriately adept at alliteration.

— by David Greenspan

An aged anglophile ate algae and angora, and afterwards anticipated an aching abdomen, and, agreeing amicably about atheism, avoided answering angry Anglicans about Abrahamic advocacy, and, articulating antitheses, answered an advanced argument against antidisestablishmentarianism.

— by Marcus Geduld, published author

Antelopes and ants and alpacas are all animals and aren’t angry about anything, although an angry artificial antelope actually accidentally annoyed an ambling alpaca, ably articulating ally’s actions at another arrogant alpaca, amiably arranging anthologies around an ambivalent ant aunt, aware alpacas are around, although actually avenging another ant’s actions against antlered antelopes, actions arguably aggressive against all antelope anywhere, after annoying alpacas, artificial antelope always appropriately access artistic ambidextrous Aleutians around an auxiliary artillery; auxiliary artillery are arguably always an answer after an angry asp asks around about anything amicable armadillos already answered ambiguously.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

Always avoid alliterations.

— via Ramya Ramesh

by Oulipo-Hobo

Arnold, an architect, approachable, always amiable attire, amicable attitude. An affordable address at Alabaster Avenue. An accommodation amply adorned; ancient African artefacts and abstract articles attained at art auctions. Arnold acted as administrator at Abel Architecture Association. Always awake and attentive, awaiting academics after apartment amendments and adjustments. An answerphone assembled at agency, angry amber Aldebaran, an alarm appearing as an alternating apparition, awaiting attention.

An August afternoon, Arnold aches after accelerated aerobics alongside another associate, astonishingly active and agèd. Aspirational, Arnold applied all ardour and attempted acrobatics at Artichoke Athletics Arena. Arrogant arseholes arrived around, acting apelike, augmented abdominals, assuming attractiveness. An aerobics assistant aided Arnold at all activities and Arnold adored all approaches. After an awkward accident, Arnold aggressively attacked apparatus and arm abrasions appeared. Arnold altered. Arnold abhorred all actions and ambled away.

Answerphone alive and awake. Arnold approaching anthropological absence; anxious, atrabilious. At an arched abutment aquarelle, Arnold averted attentions. An aeroplane advanced across Arnold’s augen. Arnold avoided actual answerphone. Arnold, aware as Alderbaran always aflame, anticipated argumentative askers acquiring answers. Arnold appreciated all askers, as all aspire advice, although Arnold abominated aiding again and again. Arnold, altruistic and apathetic, an abstraction about another atlas and atmosphere absorbed Arnold’s attention. Away. Alone. Absent.

Arnold absconded, aseity at armslength. Alcohol abundantly absorbed, Arnold’s azygous, almost ataxic. All’s awry as Arnold’s astray, adrift. An autoroute appears appealing; an adventure almost. Automobiles ambulate apace, accelerating.

Astatically ascending an archway, anonymously Arnold awaits angels.

(via Arsène Hodali)

An arm around anyone, appear as an armour.

— by Muhammad Bilal Javed, QA engineer

Apples are awesome.

— anonymous


Behold, by being brave, but besides boldness by brainstorming before beginning, broadcasting brief blurbs becomes bizarre but basic babbling.

— by David Greenspan

Barry Brian Bonds blew bugles beautifully but bitched blatantly because Barry’s brother, Butch Bobo Bonds, blew bugles better.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal


Continuing, casual crowd commenters can concur, collectively checking current compositional constraints controlling character choice, concerning certain crackpot creative chores, chiefly claiming common cunning’s compelled conclusion, comprising conjectured chore conquerability (circumstantially) carrying clear caveats cautioning care, considering calling colossal commitments complete cinches could convey controversial cool confidence.

— by David Greenspan

Charlie Chan’s critical covert cop capers caused corrupted criminals considerable consternation causing crime cessation, congratulations Charlie Chan!

— by Himanshu Jaiswal


Don’t dare doubt David’s diligence doing deeds demanding deft, devious design, dear discussion denizen, deeming dogged determination doesn’t darken David’s door; during diction’s driest drudgery, despite delightful daydreams delaying development, destiny’s death-defying daredevil detail deviser dodges despair, denying defeat, displaying devotion demonstrating dreary deliberation doubles daft drama’s devastating dynamic disposition, dovetailing directly.

— by David Greenspan

Duke decreed, “Despite dumbfounded doubters, doors don’t detract devotees dealing decks, demonstrating dastardly developments defying deities’ decrees dealt downstairs diligently”; Dale’s dysfunctional dystopia doesn’t deny desperate, diabolical demons didactically decrying Duke’s decree denying delegated dumbfounded doubters.

— by Louis Jack Ades

Doing daring despicable deeds didn’t dissuade Dudley Doowright’s dastardly demeanor, damaging Dudley’s dubious development.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

Doing dirty deeds defeats decency.

— by Ian Raskin


English enthusiasts eagerly envision enhanced emotional elevation, exceeding even existing examples’ elicited elation, encountering each ensuing eccentric exercise, ergo everyone’s esteemed enlisted essayist (enchanted!) ensures each exquisite excerpt exhibits explosive expressive efficacy evincing either excruciating editing effort, extreme endurance, engineering excellence, etc., else elemental extemporaneous effervescence, entertaining enough except — explaining earnestly — entailing eventual emergency; essentially, endorsing ever-escalating elaborate experimentation encourages extravagant excesses, especially emphasizing expectations encompassing elusive execution extending established events — exclusively employing equal everyday emblems (E’s, e.g.) embodying each emblem ensemble’s earlier end (elsewhere enunciated easily) — evaluating endowing entirely equivalent eloquence eternally, envisaging electronic education’s emerging endeavor enjoying eight, eleven, even eighteen entries, exploits experts empirically estimate expending extra-Einstein egghead energy engendering environmentally evil, Earth-exposing exhaled exhaust emissions.

— by David Greenspan

Every etymological entity exercised, euphemisms, even extremely elementary exhortations effective.

by Vivek Nagarajan, blogger and writer of short stories

Eating enough early eases elimination.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

Evidently, eyeing each extraordinarily elaborate endeavor: entries expeditiously elicited.

— by John James Morton

Elephants easily eat entering Erno’s example elephant emulation.

— by Matthew Pinnock

Every entrepreneur eventually earn.

— by Carl Vergara, client services specialist


Five funny features feel fairly finished for forum fodder, foolish followers falsely fancy, for failing further focus fueling full foresight, fellow fiction fanciers frankly forget fundamental facts framing fruits from frenzied freelancing, for first fragments flowing from frantic freshman fingers frequently fall flat, forming forced, flawed fakeries feigning fluency, faded facsimiles fractionally fitting for fatuous Facebook flapdoodle, familiar formulaic fragments famously fouling friends’ feeds; fine, for furthermore, fascinatingly, first forays facing far-flung fringe frontiers, finding faith’s fortitude ferociously fighting formidable foes — fear, frustration, flaky functioning, foot fungus — forge foundations for future feats, figurative furniture for fortune’s foyer, faintly favoring fantastic fairytale fates, fervently foremost finally finishing forever.

— by David Greenspan

First Friday Father Francis fried five fresh fishes for five French fathers from France.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

French fries feel failed for finding flabby feet flying.

— by Matthew Pinnock

Fun fruit features fungus.

— by Tristan Isham


Good grief, getting gobsmacked glimpsing great glory gushing goofy gibberish generates growing gaiety, gladdening geekery’s gracious groupie (greetings), generally greasing God’s genetically ghostwritten gearbox governing giddiness gainsaying glumness: graphically, guts, glands — generously, gantries guiding glowing glee grains granting genuine giggles, graceful gadgets guarding geniality’s green garden gate; gobbledygook, gentle guy/girl gathering: grin given glimmering gold; gasp gratuitously guzzling glittery glamor (greedily, gilded gramophones gurgling garbled Gangnam getting groovy gyrating go-go gals gamely gesturing galloping); groan giant, gutteral groans given glaringly glib games, gross grammatical goulash, gloppy gumbo grouping gimmicks galore: gawkish gymnasts gliding gallantly, gingerly grasping gigantic grotesque gorillas; guileless genius guaranteeing gullible gala-goers grimy garbage garnering ghastly grapevine gossip (galling grieving geriatrics gripping geraniums gentrifying grandpa’s grave); ghoulish gory galleries giving grimacing guests grisly gas, grunting gruffly: go gag gobbling grass, goddamn gibbon, get gone guilty gent, git!

— by David Greenspan

Good girls get good guys’ gazes. Harry hurt his hands handling hot hamburgers. I idly insist I’m in Italy. Jaguars jump joyful, jabbering jaybirds.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal


Huge hits have historically harbored hidden hazards, hysterical hordes hardly heeding how habitually heaping honors hyping his Holiness, Harry Harangue-Hatcher, hollering, “Hip hip, hooray! Hail Hypertext Highway’s happening hack!” heavily heightens his hedonism, hubris, head hugeness — harsh harbingers hurling humanity’s hardiest hero hellward, hereafter helming his hapless human husk haunting Hades’s hallmark hot haze, heckling Halloween’s hideous headless horseman (hefting his hollow head), harassing Hitler’s hired Holocaust henchmen, hassling ham-handed helicopter handlers — hopefully, hypothetically, having hardcore horizontal hugs holding his horny, high-heeled hourglass honey (he handily helped hang her hemp Hawaiian hammock), heartland’s “happy” housewife humbling hotel heiress Hilton, heinously having hated her husband’s horsey hee-haw “hello,” his hundred horrible hay howls hammering her homicidal; however, have heart, huddled hint hobbyists, hearkening how hallowed hieroglyphs hurtling hence harmonize hypnotically, heaven’s harps highlighting how hyperactive hippocampus hockey heaves hilarious harvested hash — healthy herbs healing hungry humor hankerings.

— by David Greenspan


Is it in?

— by Sharath Chandra

It is intriguing, if I innocently introspect, inquiring into industriousness, imagining isolating its ingredients, i.e. internal impetuses instrumental in inspiring indefinite intransigence in inking inane, ignoble illustrations (illuminating immoderate idiom’s indomitable impetuosity, its irrepressible impishness, in infinite iterations), intently ignoring indolent inclinations inducing interest in idly inspecting Internet idiocy instead — insouciantly ingesting incessant immature innuendos insulting impromptu interactive images, inevitably imbibing insipid informational items interpreting important issues incorrectly; if indeed impressive inner influences inhere in intrepidly indulging improbable initiatives, I informally identify: idiosyncratic innate impulses involving inflexible ideals; incurable insomnia; iron intestinal integrity; insufficiently inebriated introversion; indubitably, intellectual imperative imitating insecure icicles in impaling indifferent inactivity.

by David Greenspan

Individual identities insist insecurities.

— by Priscilla Durisko


Jumping Jehoshaphat, J’s jaunty jangle jovially jolts jaded jargon junkies, justifying judicious juggling joining jocose journal jottings; judging Job’s Judaic journey jejune, jamming jousts (jointly, jabs) jeopardizing joyful June/July junctures — just jubilate, juvenilely jacking jumbo Jamba Juice jugs joking jumbled jingles jollify jail’s jeering junior janitors.

by David Greenspan

Jotting jargon juxtapose joviality.

— by Priscilla Durisko

Justin just jumped Julie’s jam.

— by Matthew Pinnock


Knucklehead knaves karate-kicking King Kong’s kidneys kneel, kindred kibitzers, keenly knowing kempt knights knead keyboards, knitting kooky keynotes — kerosene kinetically kindling kinky kittens’ kisses, kiddingly kidnapping Kim Kardashian’s kingdom keys, knotting klutzy Kanye’s knickers; knappish killjoys, kowtow: kryptonite k-key knacks keep knowledge-knockers knackered.

by David Greenspan


Look lively, listless language lovers, learning lame lulls lack lasting legitimacy lessening lofty literature’s lumbering, lurching locomotion; leaving Local Lunatic Linguist listing letters, let’s lazily luxuriate, losing life’s latest little lingering laments like landlords limit lawless louts’ leases, least-leniently letting long-lost loathesome lecturers lambaste liberated leaders, lucidly laughing: Listen — lending lighthearted levity lubricates lavish labor, launching latent legato lyrics like larynx-lodged lasagna; likewise, licking lollipops; looping leashes loosely; lustily locking lips; lemon-lime lozenges; large-lidded lunch liquids; lastly, low light levels limning luscious landscapes.

by David Greenspan


“Luscious Lollipops”
by Matt MacDougall (date unknown)

luscious lollipops laugh languidly
learning lacan,
labled lipstick lickers
lack labored locked labias
lava lady
leash lost lemming
leaky life-boat
lobotomized loafer
lose lust

lounge lizard
lubricates lurid lungs.

(original poem here)


Me, my muddleheaded, middling mind manufactures meretricious memorabilia: miserable, maggoty, mildewed, moth-eaten monstrosities; mere maundering, mostly.

— by John James Morton

Meal makes me miss my mom.

— by Michael Lin


[We’ve found none using the letter ‘n’ apart from any contained herein.—Editor]


Optimistic options offering openness.

— by Priscilla Durisko


Patient perseverance produces pugilistic prodigies. — P.G. Wodehouse

(via Koshika Yadava)

Prior preparation prevents poor performance.

(via Albert Tian)

Parallel premonitions predicate pupil participation poisoning preposterous pagan people poetically.

— by Priscilla Durisko


Quality Quora questions quash querulous quiddities.

— by Parke Muth

Quantifying questing questions queers quintessential qualities, quoting quantum, quadratic, questionnaires queuing querulously questing, quirkily, quizzically Queenlike, Queenslandbound.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

Quantum quasars quote quietness.

— by Priscilla Durisko


[We’ve found none using the letter ‘r’ apart from any contained herein.—Editor]


Seeing such stunning spoutings, someone should strive similarly stitching sounds skillfully stupefying several.

— by Vivek Nagarajan, blogger and writer of short stories

Slithering serpents suddenly speeding.

— by Priscilla Durisko

Sizzling sartorial syzygies stimulate sneering sibilation.

— by John Morrison, computing wizard


The Time Traveller Took Time To Teach Time Travelling.

— by Vivek Dhiman, coder

Trying tensely to tout these terse tokens, terribly tortuous, tiring too! Torture?

— by Vivek Nagarajan, blogger and writer of short stories


The thrifty that teacheth the thriving to thrive
Teach timely to traverse, the thing that thou ‘trive,
Transferring thy toiling, to timeliness taught,
This teacheth thee temp’rance, to temper thy thought,
Take Trusty (to trust to) that thinkest to thee,
That trustily thriftiness trowleth to thee,
That temper thy travell, to tarry the tide;
This teacheth thy thriftiness, twenty times tryed,
Take thankfull thy talent, thank thankfully those
That thriftily teach thee thy time to transpose.
Troth twice to thee teached, teach twenty times ten,
This trade thou that takest, take thrift to thee then.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal


Unbearable urge, ultimately, use upvotes, ululate, upset ubiquity, understood?

— by Vivek Nagarajan, blogger and writer of short stories

Understand unequivocally ultimatums ultimately.

— by Priscilla Durisko


Vivacious vile varmints viciously venting.

— by Priscilla Durisko


“Tautogram Tale #4
by Smarmy

We were warriors.
We woke wondering where we were.

We wandered,
Weighted with wounds, weighed with weapons,
Weighed with worries.

We waited,
Without watches, we watched without windows.

We wished,
Wanting wives, wanting wins, wanting words.

When we wrote, we winnowed,
We withheld, we whispered.
When we wept,

We wondered,
We were warriors,

Weren’t we?

(via Arsène Hodali)

Why would woodchucks whittle wild wood?

— by Kendal Peirce, marketing professional

While waiting with Wilf where wild winds went west, William wondered, while wrangling wrists, why women wanted Wayne when Wayne whimsically wished women would wait without withstanding worries. Wondering why, Wilf worried, would wrestle with William’s wayward woes.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

Willing Wendy went whirling wiggly with William who was wavering while wholesome white women went wandering willingly when Wilma would welcome whole western whores who were writers within Wyoming where Wookies weightlifted while wobbling with William’s womanly wombat which was weird.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal

Whimsical Witch wantonly worried while wandering within wonderous wild woods, whether wooden whirling wobbly wheels would wreck wolf ‘s wonderful work; whether warts were worse while wearing wet wool; whether warmblooded warriors would walk without whimpering while wearily waving weapons , whether Western wacky wild-eyed wolves would whine while wholeheartedly waltzing within wicked webbed windless woods.

— by Himanshu Jaiswal


[We’ve found none using the letter ‘x’ apart from any contained above.—Editor]


[We’ve found none using the letter ‘y’ apart from any contained above.—Editor]


Zealous Zion zooming on Zeus.

— by Priscilla Durisko

* * *


the sound of silence

(via Threadless)

Sounds instead of letters

Here is an interesting example of constrained writing using homophones instead of actual letters:—

Here is a poem I had written long time ago, every line is a complete sentence. I had every word starting with the same SOUND instead of letter (and I was also trying to maintain the meter), so few of the lines does not fit your criteria, but this still can be taken as an answer to your question:—

Teacher teaches tic-tac-toe,
Greener grasses gradually grow.

“History-Hunters” historically hits,
Swedish singer swiftly spits.

Dirty dockers daily drool,
Crazy clinging keeps cool.

Mystery maiden made me mute,
Crappy kaizen kindled cute.

Laundry lather lavishly laid,
Flying feathers finally fade.

Shimmering shiny showers shine,
Flourishing flowers flourishing fine.

— by Ashish Kushwaha

* * *


blair in house of commons
(Photo: Press Association/PA Wire via The ’60s at 50)

Who’s the top dog in this?

It seems Walter Abish, the Austrian-American experimental novelist, is the ultimate master of this genre:—

While admiring David Greenspan, Marcus Geduld and others [the authors of some of the contributions above], it is worth saying they have been comprehensively trumped. “Alphabetical Africa” is a book by Walter Abish in which the entire first chapter only uses words that begin with the letter ‘a’, while the second chapter incorporates the letter ‘b’, and then ‘c’, etc. Once the alphabet is finished, Abish takes letters away, one at a time, until the last chapter, leaving only words that begin with the letter ‘a’. … The whole novel!

(via Rupert Baines)

The francophones aren’t beaten by the anglophones:—

perecSince there are plenty of correct answers yet, let me briefly introduce you to a master of words: Georges Perec (French dude). He wrote many things, but among them are two wonders:—

(1) “La Disparition,” an entire detective novel he wrote without even once using the letter ‘e‘ — and ‘e‘ is even more [commonly] used in French than it is in English.

(2) “Le Grand Palindrome,” a 1,247-words-long palindrome (a text that remains identical whether you read it from left to right or from right to left).

It’s somehow poetic, but it does make sense. Even better: at the end of [the] first paragraph, you can read: ‘lis à vice-versa,’ which literately [sic] means ‘read backwards’.

I’ve known those pieces for ten years, and my mind still gets blown every time.

(via anonymous)

(Image of Perec via Le silence qui parle)

We don’t usually expect science fiction to have constrained writing but here’s one example:—

The Cyberiad wikipediaI’d like to offer the poem from Michael Kandel’s terrific translation of Stanislaw Lem’s “The Cyberiad.” In one of the stories in the collection, one character builds a computer poet, and another character challenges it:

“Have it compose a poem — a poem about a haircut! But lofty, noble, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter S!!”

The machine responds with:

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.

(via Nicholas Halderman)

(Image via Wikipedia)


They’re awesome but must be nearly impossible to do, and these people must be highly talented.

Obviously, one has to have some kind of talent or yen for this sort of thing first. Having said that, it seems it isn’t as hard as it looks once we understand the basics behind it:—

Of course. Try it yourself by flipping open a dictionary and finding a noun, verb, and noun that all start with the same letter. There’s literally millions of combinations for even a three-word sentence. Even on the first page, you get “Aardvarks ahh arr.”

To illustrate how easy it is, you can form many sentences with much more similarity between words, up to “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” [eight ‘buffaloes’], which is a grammatically correct and complete sentence in American English.

There’s also “Police police Police police police police Police police,” “Dice dice dice,” and “Head head head head head head head head.” Any uninflected transitive verb that can be a plural noun works in a similar sentence.

Some helpful hints:

— transitive verbs are easier because they can take direct objects without a ‘to’ or ‘for’

— plural nouns help you avoid using ‘the’ or ‘a’

(via Cody Pederson)

The tongue-twisters are already constrained writing:—

I’ve got one. “Seashore side, she sells sea shells” — rearranged from the popular tongue twister “She sells sea shells by the seashore.” And you can definitely make many such examples: “The tomato-laden tanker tipped to tremble” … “the tourists travelling too trembled.”

(via Kiran Kannar)


Is there a word limit to same-letter sentences?

It would seem there is no word limit to this language cleverness:—

There are infinitely many such sentences, and no ‘longest one.’ There is no theoretical limit to sentence length in any language. You can take any existing sentence and make it a clause in a longer sentence, or add more words in other ways. The only limit is the writer’s or speaker’s imagination. Well, and practical limits like not being able to say a sentence that takes decades to recite. So…

Sheep sleep.
Sheep sleep soundly.
Sally said sheep sleep soundly.
Sally said seriously, ‘sheep sleep soundly.’
Sam saw Sally say ‘sheep sleep soundly’ seriously; Sally subsequently slapped Sam.

And so forth.

(via Joe Devney, professional writer and editor with a master’s degree in linguistics)

There’s a reason for the possible neverending length:—

Language is recursive, so the longest example of this would be infinitely long, e.g. “They thought things that thought things that thought things that…”

(via Miles Grover)


Forget the long length. How’s about just one single word?

In fact we knew them since Day One:—

Yes! Here are some more:—


Basically any one word answer to a question.

(via Yaakov Sternberg)



.Oulipo — Instantanées sourires” via

(Inspired by, and with excerpts from, a Quora thread. We did say this was a cop-out post.)


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