The word palindrome is derived from the Greek word palíndromos, meaning “running back again.” But palindromes were not exclusive to the Greeks. We've learned that since at least 79 AD palindromes appeared in Latin, Hebrew, and Sanskrit. English poet John Taylor was hailed as one hailed as one of the first palindrome writers when he wrote, "Lewd did I live, & evil I did dwell.” The use of palindromes has increased in popularity every century since and in 1971 the Guinness Book of World Records began recognizing the world's longest palindromes. In the nine years between 1971 and 1989, the winning palindrome grew from 242 words to 11, 225 words.
"With palindromes, the same rules of punctuation, capitalization, and spacing don’t apply. For example, the word “Hannah” is a palindrome, even though both “H’s” aren’t capitalized. And what about words that spell another word backward, like “live” becoming “evil”? That’s called a semordnilap, which happens to be itself a semordnilap of palindromes." Two common palindromes are, "Madam, I'm Adam" and "A nut for a jar of tuna," Here are some others that I hope you'll enjoy.
1. The Guinness Book of World Records has bestowed the longest single-word palindrome to detartrated. Most English palindromes have seven, or fewer letters. But this winner has an impressive eleven letters.
2. The longest palindromic word, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary is tattarrattat. This word was coined by James Joyce in his 1922 novel Ulysses. The word is an onomatopoeia...It has been used to describe the sound of someone knocking on a door.
3. The most recognizable palindromic poem is Doppelgänger by English poet, James A. Linden. "At the poem’s midway point, each line is repeated backward. The use of the device has literary significance: the concept of a doppelgänger involves a ghostly reflection of oneself, and the palindromic structure means that the latter half of the poem serves as a reflection of the first half." Pretty clever, eh?
4. The longest palindromic place name is Wassamassaw, a swamp (my favorite!) located in South Carolina.
5. The longest palindromic novel is Dr Awkward & Olson in Oslo, written in 1986 by Lawrence Levine. It contains 31,594 words.
6. The history-based palindrome is Able was I ere I saw Elba. This palindrome related to French leader Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile to the island of Elba.
7. The best palindromic album title award goes to Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas (Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas) by the 1991 American rock band Soundgarden.
But palindromes don't live and die just in language. Oh, no. There are palindromes in math, science, and music, too. Palindromic strands of DNA can be found in molecular biology, and mathematicians may look for palindromic numbers that have unique properties. Classical, experimental, and humorist composers have integrated musical palindromes into their work. Even Weird Al Yankovic has gotten into the palindrome craze!
Please join me back here tomorrow for a Friday special. If you're a fan of Winnie the Pooh (and who isn't?) you won't want to miss this blog. Until then, I wish you