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Beyond lipograms and pangrams.

Posted 6 Months ago by chiarizio

A lipogram is a passage written without using a particular letter.
A pangram is a written passage that uses every letter.

It’s a fairly common exercise, at least among English authors, to write a series of 26 lipograms; each of which omits a single letter of English’s alphabet; and each long enough to use all of the other letters than the one designated to be elided from that particular lipogram.
If it makes a connected narrative that’s a real bonus!

....

I propose something beyond that here.
For each of the 325 unordered pairs of English letters, write a lipogram that doesn’t use either member of that unordered pair; but does use every bigram that actually occurs in English that doesn’t involve either of the two letters in the elided pair.
The passage written will be a sort of bigram-pangram.
The shortest possible one might have to be at least 576 words long; or it might be possible to shorten it to 1152 letters long.
I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know; I haven’t even located an online list of all the legitimate bigrams that occur in English words.
Wikipedia seems to say they quote the most frequent 100 bigrams in a certain corpus and refer to a list of all the bigrams in some longer corpus.
In this post I’m referring to all the bigrams that occur in words in the latest edition of the OED, omitting bigrams that occur only in proper names or only in acronyms or only in foreign words or only in compound words.

.....

One difficulty one novelist who wrote lipograms is that, if you follow the rule that all numbers have to be spelled out, there is a limited set of ages characters can be (assuming ages are always in years but you never have to write the word “years”) in any lipogram that elides the letter “e”. In his stated opinion this limited romantic scenes.

The allowed ages when omitting “e” are;
Two;
Four;
Six;
Thirty, thirty-two, thirty-four, thirty-six;
Forty, forty-two, forty-four, forty-six;
Fifty, fifty-two, fifty-four, fifty-six;
Sixty, sixty-two, sixty-four, sixty-six;
And the next number is:
Two thousand.

If one also omits “y” then no age older than six but younger than two thousand is available.

I suppose in that chapter there might be a six-year-old android who’d been cr*at*d as an adult and bootstrapp*d or IPL’d as an adult, who has a romance with a two-thousand-**ar-old vampir*, or something.

....

Anyone want to try?

There are 4 Replies


For each of the 325 unordered pairs of English letters, write a lipogram that doesn’t use either member of that unordered pair; but does use every bigram that actually occurs in English that doesn’t involve either of the two letters in the elided pair.


That's a ridiculously difficult challenge.

Challenge accepted.

I haven’t even located an online list of all the legitimate bigrams that occur in English words.


I'm installing a Wordnet database on the server as we speak. I'll be able to index it once done and there will be a searchable tool of bigrams --> words here. As well as a list of all of them. I need the database anyway for other projects.

The allowed ages when omitting “e” are;


You could get around it by prefixing "half-" and "quarter-" to numbers -- would give them a more interesting feel in the story. "He was half-forty, she was half-fifty".

6 Months ago
Riven
 

I love that you accepted the challenge!

....

“Quarter” has in it both an e and a t.
“Month” doesn’t have an e or a y, but it has a t. “Moon” has no e no t and no y.
Fortnight has no e but has a t.
Summer and winter each have an e. Winter also has a t. Season has e.
Day has no e and no t but it has a y.

I think any chapter that follows Bechdel’s rule could possibly just skip romance. (Or heterosexual romance, anyway.)
Besides romance doesn’t have to mention characters’ ages, any more than non-romance has to.

Anyway I think people aged thirty to sixty-six are perfectly capable of being in romances; at least if they’re fictional characters in fictional romances.
Unless one of them is me. Once I passed sixty I think I was past even fictional romance; and once I was past fifty I think my romantic prospects were purely fictional. But that’s just me.

6 Months ago
chiarizio
 

@Riven:
Are you going in the order ab ac bc ad bd cd .... tz uz vz wz xz yz
Or in the order ab ac ad ae af ag .... wx wy wz xy xz yz ?
Or in an order determined by in-story chronology?

I’m talking about the order of bilipogram chapters in the story, of course; not about the order of the words or the bigrams in each chapter.
Alphabetizing the bigrams in each quasi-pan-bigram chapter is hardly likely to make sense!

In the first case the chapter (if that’s the word) omitting the unordered pair {a, z} will be 25th; in the second case it will be 301st.

But you could do it in order by difficulty from most difficult to easiest.
In order of frequency of use in English the most frequent 14 letters are something like etaoinshrdlucm ..
You could omit e and t first; then e and a; then t and a; then e and o; then t and o; then a and o; and so on.
(An alternative order is etaonirsh .... And Jeopardy’s order is something like etnrsl ... )
And Scrabble makes the last five be ... kjzxq or something.
I don’t think xx is a bigram in any English word that’s not a brand name. The same is probably true of qq and qx, though xq occurs in eg exquisite.

The most frequent bigram is th and the second most frequent is he.
Any lipogram that omits e or t or h is going to have to bypass the definite article “the”. And if it omits t or h it will also have to skip demonstratives such as this and that. Those chapters (? still not sure that’s the right word?) will be interesting.

.....

Did you yet find a list of all bigrams that occur in English words (in for instance the most recent edition of the OED) that aren’t
  • acronyms
  • compound words
  • foreign loan words
  • proper nouns
    ?

  • 6 Months ago
    chiarizio
     

    @Riven:
    Do you still accept this challenge?
    It’s starting to look like you’ll never have time to work on it!

    3 Months ago
    chiarizio
     

    Semi-permanent Lockdown

    Accounts are required to post for the forseeable future. Contact me through discord for account issues or registration: Riven#7868