10 July, 2008
The Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick Form
Nineteen years of designing typefaces has amply proven H&FJ’s Third Law, which states that for every act of exhaustive research, there is an equal and opposite act of total silliness. This principle extends from typography into other disciplines as well: behold — no kidding — the Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick Form.
Precisely the kind of project that the internet was made for, the OEDILF (stop snickering!) has brought together contributors from around the globe for the purpose of rendering every entry in the world’s most famous dictionary into a-a-b-b-a form. The fascicle A-Cr is well underway, with 45,297 entries so far, making this a site you don’t want to stumble upon when you’re up against a deadline.
As if the premise wasn’t ridiculous enough, many contributors have taken a shine to words that offer a chance to demonstrate their meaning within the construction of the limerick itself. Above is abecedarius, a literary work in which lines begin with successive letters of the alphabet. Here’s acrostic, by Holger Martin:
At the tip (acro-, Greek) in each line:
Crossing words as in Scrabble design.
Reading columns' extension
O, second dimension!
STIC means “line,” so this fits rather fine.
Those with a taste for wordplay might know the mind-bending autogram, a self-referential paragraph which describes an inventory of its own contents. Chris Doyle offers this autogrammatical limerick, one of four autograms contributed so far:
My autogram has seven T’s;
Five A’s; three U’s, W’s, V’s,
M’s, F’s, I’s, Y’s, and G’s;
Twenty S’s; eight E’s;
Four H’s, N’s, O’s, R’s; two D’s.
Collinear, which means the positioning of many items along the same line, naturally calls for a one line limerick. Chris J. Strolin contributed the following:
Asked speller Iago LaMar, / “A·r·e·Y·o·u·F·o·r / W·h·a·t·I / M·e·a·n·B·y / C·o·l·l·i·n·e·a·r?”
Strolin continues with ampersand, leaving it to readers to imagine what was so scandalous about Brandon and Mandy’s handstand:
H& in h& on the C&yl& b&st&,
D&y Br&on & M&y R& gr&st&.
W&a's husb&, a b&it,
Is c&id: “Unh& it!
Ab&on your sc&alous h&st&!”
That which suddenly comes to an end,
Like a greeting too brief from a friend,
Or flat ground, at steep rises —
An end by surprise is