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Thursday, September 07, 2006

September Seventh: Univocalic Day

September seventh is Univocalic Day. A univocalic is a piece of writing where the writer may use only a single vowel. Because September Seventh has nothing but the vowel 'e', it's the perfect day to celebrate this rare but interesting writing form.

As Richard Lederer points out in his book The Word Circus, some of the longest common univocalic words use the vowel 'e':

strengthlessness

senselessness

defenselessness

Lederer also cites a univocalic translation of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" by Paul Hellweg from Word Ways magazine:

Meg kept the wee sheep,
The sheep's fleece resembled sleet;
Then wherever Meg went
The sheep went there next;

He went where she needed her texts,
The precedent he neglected;
The pre-teen felt deep cheer
When the sheep entered there.

But 'e' is not the only vowel for constructing univocalics. Dave Morice in his book Alphabet Avenue quotes a univocalic haiku by Howard Bergerson that uses only the vowel 'i':

The Haiku of Eyes

In twilight this spring
Girls with miniskirts will swim
In string bikinis (2).

Today's Challenge: One Vowel Howl
Pick a vowel and make a list of words that contain only that vowel.
Then, put those words together in a sentence or a Haiku in which you only use a single vowel. Here's a famous example concerning the Ten Commandments:

Preserve these perfect tenets, men;
Ever keep these precepts ten.

Quote of the Day: Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry. --Bill Cosby

1 - Lederer, Richard. The Word Circus. Springfield, Massachusetts, Meriam-Webster, Incorporated, 1998.

2 - Morice, Dave. Alphabet Avenue: Wordplay in the Fast Lane. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1997.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Hi - I also live in Anacortes. I was searching for info on univocalic poetry and found your site. This month's challenge on the poetry board that I belong to is to write a univocalic poem describing the subject picture.