h: Heteroradical Homonyms

An English teacher once told me that in Chaucer's day the word "venerie" referred to matters involving either hunting or love; and that by saying the Monk "lovede venerie," Chaucer definitely meant he was both a hunter and a lover. I eventually discovered that that statement may be somewhat inaccurate; the modern word "venery" can […]

g: Haunts and Apparitions

I used to think everyone knew how to play Ghost, but that turns out not to be the case. So here's an explanation of the game before I get into variants: The game of Ghost involves spelling a word, with each player in turn adding a letter to a growing word. The object is to […]

f: What They Did: The Movie

The entry for 3 December in Another Almanac of Words at Play is a quasi-story called "What They Did," by Freddy Bosco, consisting of selected book titles beginning with "They." That piece was in the back of my mind one day when I heard Arthur reading aloud a series of movie titles from a movies-on-video […]

e: An Eloquent Orator (Reader Comments)

Tamara Munzner mentions a sung vocal warmup done in rehearsals for musicals. The lyrics go: Many mumbling mice Were making midnight music in the moonlight Mighty nice (I'm leaving out the tune for now, but repetitions of the verse start a half-step higher each time through.) Now that I think about it, I believe the […]

e: An Eloquent Orator

Words can be tricky things to say. They get tangled around and come out all wrong if you're not careful, and sometimes even if you are. Which is why actors and others who perform using their voices do enunciation exercises to warm up their vocal apparatus. The most famous such exercise is probably the rhyme […]

d: Everything Higgledy-Piggledy (Reader Comments)

Dominus, who can usually be counted upon to provide a comment, wrote: Higgledy-Piggledy isn't his favorite— too many syllables, not enough length. Mark-Jason Dominus can't do them anyway; metric analysis isn't his strength. —Mark-Jason Dominus Ranjit Bhatnagar wrote to say: "I once tried to combine the venerable Higgledy-Piggledy form with the equally well-respected Ten-Word Story, […]

d: Everything Higgledy-Piggledy

I've long had a fondness for certain poetic forms oft-derided as doggerel. One of my favorite such forms is the Double Dactyl, also known as the Higgledy Piggledy. A dactyl is a poetic foot which consists of a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. Words like "turpitude," "menopause," and "aspirin" are dactylic—their stress pattern […]