Thursday, November 09, 2006

Who Is Mighty Abbott? A Twin-Turrent Scallawag

Ambiguity has a certain quality to it.

It isn't often that one has an opportunity to introduce a new literary form to the linguistic community, as it often seems that everything must have already been done. In fact, I can't even be certain that this is in fact, what I am about to do. If anyone knows of this literary form by some other name, please let me know. If not, I'd like to introduce you to the Phonemagram.

I'm sure that many of you are familiar with the Anagram, and the Palindrome. An anagram is a word, phrase, sentence, etc. formed by rearranging the letters of another word, phrase, or sentence. The word "evil" is an anagram for the word "live." A palindrome is a somewhat similar device in which a word, phrase, or sentence, when the letters are reversed, results in the same word, phrase, sentence, clause, etc. For example, one famous palindrome reads "A man, a plan, a canal, panama." I'm not sure of what value these sorts of literary devices are, but they can be fun.

The Phonemagram is a distant bastard cousin of the Anagram. In an anagram, the letters of a word, phrase, sentence, etc., are rearranged to form a different word, phrase, yada yada yada. In a Phonemagram, it is the phonemes of the structure that are rearranged. Like the anagram, the rules for a phonemagram are that all phonemes must be used.

Now, I've linked to the definition of phoneme for those of you who want to puzzle over its exact meaning, but in a nutshell, phonemes are the bits of sound that result from breaking a word apart into its constituent sounds. This is quite a bit different from the letters that make up a word. The same letter can sound completely different in the context of a word. But a phoneme will always sound the same.

The title of this post is a phonemagram for the sub-title. The sub-title of this post is "Ambiguity has a certain quality to it." By rearranging the phonemes, one can derive any number of more or less sensible phrases, such as "Who is Mighty Abbot? A twin-turret scalawag." Or, perhaps, "A brute awe as you, a metallic hag entity, eat us."

Which brings me to the next logical extension of the Phonemagram, which is the Phonemagraph. A Phonemagraph is a poetry form. The rules of it are (relatively) simple: The title of the poem is the basis for the poem. The poem has the same number of lines as the number of phonemes in the title, and each line of the poem is a Phonemagram of the title.

To date, I have only successfully written one such poem, with the help of my nephew, Jon Blalock, entitled "Giftless Christmas."

Giftless Christmas
by Uncle Chutney and Jon Blalock
Miss Rugs felt sick-
Girl stuff, sick mess.
Cuss lifts grimace-
Firm guts still sulk.
Smug self - Risk it!
Muster slick fig!
"Some fiscal grits -
Phyllis gets crumbs!"
Some Elf kiss grits,
Mugs if skirtless.
Sick, Meg flusters -
"Glyphs suck, Mister!"
Guilt miffs sucker,
Must fix gristle......

I would enjoy hearing of any other successful attempts at this admittedly, most difficult "art" form. I might even publish them, so that your work could be read by the tens of people who read this blog!

Remember that the rules are, but are only slightly subjective, as pronunciation may vary slightly from one dialect to another, and of course, it is poetry. But remember also that reckless drivers may lose their poetic license!

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