Printer Friendly

Etaoin Shrdlu words.



Etaoin shrdlu (e-s), the classic 12 most frequent letters, make up 46% of the alphabet and are the first letters on 55% of Web3 pages, so one would expect lots of words to contain these letters alone. Toward quantifying this I did an indicative study sampling the head word on 4/10 of Web3 pages (every -2, -5 -7 and -0). Of 1063 words just 117 were pure e-s (11% or 20% of e-s initials). 38% (400 = 249 e-s initials +151 other) had a single miss, so 49% of the words contained no more than one non e-s letter. It's interesting that there were 3.4 times more single non's than pure e-s.

Most common single extra letters were C71, P 63, G 51, M 41. Add C to e-s for a half alphabet and 18% are pure "etaoin shrdluc". ("A twin-shared luck" beats "a twin-shared loo"!). Conversely, take away successive letters from e-s and the % declines rapidly: e-s= 11.0%, -U leaves 8.6%, -L 5.8%, -D 3.3%, -R 1.5%, -SH 0.4% (only 4 pure etaoin words). From the E end the decline was even faster, as expected,: -E 4.7% left, -T 2.8%, -A 1.5%,-O 0.3%, -IN 0.1% (just 1 shrdlu word).


The only reported transposal of etaoinshrdlu is outlandisher (OED). I add antishoulder, unlisted but with many Net quotes for the hyphenated spelling, mostly related to countering 'shoulder surfing', plus one unhyphenated use, antishoulder policy, meaning no bicycles allowed on road shoulders. Jeff Grant found another transposal cited on the Net, the coinage out-hardlines.


My longest e-s words were alliterational and Neanderthaloid (14 letters each). Interinstitutional (18), the longest in M-W Pocket Dictionary, oddly isn't in Web3. DEINSTITUTIONALISATION (22, Chambers; inferred plural 23) is the longest listed e-s word found. Other long words inferred or in Net quotes: disinterestednesses (19, plural inferred + Net); antiauthoritarianists (21, Net + Web3-ism); interinstitutionalised (22, Net); deinstitutionalisationist (25, Net, adjective); and antideinstitutionalisations (27, Net, plural inferred). Antideinstitutionalisationists, a 30-letter coinage from Jeff, had no hits. Can readers find longer ones, listed, inferred, or googled?


The longest word free of e-s, except for poly-Z and poly-M onomatopoeia, is probably Pygmy, although the unlisted coinage pygmyfy was found on the Net. Next longest is by-by, then eight Web3 headword trigrams, cwm, cyp, gym, gyp, myx-, pyx, zyg-, zym-. Can't do much without e-s!


Antideinstitutionalisations has an alphanumeric value (AV, where A=1, Z=26, etc) of 342, highest of the above. Highest listed word, deinstitutionalisation, is 279. But their AV densities (both average 12.7 points/letter) are well below my test words trust (19.6) and Usun (18.75). The densest of all e-s words is U (21, upper class; Burmese title), then utu (20.7), ut and tutu (20.5) and tut-tut (20.3).

For comparison, what is the highest AV of all words? Counting nonce OED quotes, the highest dictionary AV is 1118 for the 'word' zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (43z) under the headword Z. The Web3 45-letter pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is both the longest and the highest AV dictionary headword at 560 (density 12.4), but higher AV chemical names are given under shorter headwords (see Gooch 05-67). The densest words are any length of the snore-bore poly-z's (26), then zy (25.5, old "see", OED), XYZ (25, numerous OED et al. citations, eg, unknowns, and the x,y,z Cartesian coordinate system), then XYY (24.7, Chambers, XYY syndrome, a sex chromosome number abnormality).

For this and the following article I thank Ross Eckler for pointers and Jeff Grant for extensive help.



Prth, Strl

Grk ws th frst lphbt t gv sprt chrctrs fr th vwls. Rlr Iphbts gt b wtht thm,. g., Id Smtc lnggs. F y cn rd ths t hips t prv tht w dn't rll nd thm! N mjr prblm wth lmntng vwls s wth sngl lttr wrds lk nd . Vwllss mngrms nd bgrms r Is prblmtc (blw).


* Wtht vwls, ngmimng wld b Its sr. Mn wrds wld hv dzns f ngrms. N wndrs f mn prs f snnms wld mk vwllss ngrms? Hr s n: n = n (n ndvdl rtcl = th nmbr f sd ndvdls). Cn y thnk f n lngr ns?

* Lng smlr lns, hr's n pq VWLLSS NGRM WRD-SQR PM: (Tmsltn blw.)

* Fnll ths CHLLNG: fnd th vwllss mngrm r bgrm wth th mst tmspsls (spllngs), xcldng bbrvtns.


ANIL, Perth, Australia (or Anile, 'peareth sterile?)

* Definitive Anagram:

aN = oNe. Several others turned up in the lists below (cf). Another is seen in this article's title, NDS: NeeDS eNDS [approximately equal to] (our needs [or imagined needs] create our aims). The title could then read: "Who Ends Vowels?" That would be your friendly vocaliclastic author.

* Anagram Word-Square Poem:

(The poem's message is: whether it's a happy new eon depends on one's actions and viewpoint.)

* Vowelless Monogram/Bigram Transposals "Chilling Challenge":

I only did the monogram N and bigram pair R7S (guessing them to be the richest), as a benchmark to be bettered. Most words are from Web 3 and Collins Scrabble Diet, and exclude affixes, abbrvs. and capitalised and non-English words. N had 70 "transposals", 12 in M-W Pocket Diet, (bold):

N = aeon/eon ain aine ainee aini ainoi an ana an'a ane ani anoa anoia anu/anyu any aune ayin 'ayn ean een e'en [dagger] eena/[dagger]eenee/[section]eenie/[dagger][section]eeny/[dagger]eny eina eine en ene eoan [section]eunoea/[section]eunoia eyen/eyne in inia ion 'n/'n' na/nae naio nao naoi nay ne ne/nee/nee nie no noa noo noy nu ny nye on one onie ono ony oon un unai/unau uni.

[dagger] OED, OED2, or Shorter Oxford / [section] Wiktionary/Wikipedia

R/S had 179 transposalss (125 RS+54 SR), or 157 (104+53) excluding */** noted; 43 in MWPD. * nonce plural of an adjective, etc, as a word (noun) in itself; eg, "There are not two aerys in this sentence," aery being an adjective treated as a noun;

** nonce noun of action made by adding -er to a verb, sanctioned by Fowler for any English verb.

RS = aeras aeries [dagger]aeris [dagger]aerious aeros aers * aerys aieries *aires airs/ayres air-sea *airys aras araise arayse areas ares arias ariose ariosi arioso aris arise/arose arouse ars arse arsey/arsy, aruis arusa aryas *arys auras *auraes *aureis/aureus aureous aures/auris aurous **avers ears 'ears *e'ers *eeries/*eerys eras erase eres *eries eros erose ers euros eyers eyras eyres eyries ioras ires iris oars *oarys *o'ers *oors *oories oras ores ors orse *orys ours *ouries oyers rais/reis raise ras rase rayas rays rees reis res resai resay reseau resee re-sue reus/*reas/*reaes reuse *reys reyes rias rise roes rois roos roosa roose rose/rose rosy roues rouse r's rues rusa ruse ryas ryes *urs uraeus uraos ureas urease ures [dagger]uroos ursa/ursae urus.

SR = asar asor easer easier eyesore osar osier sair/sare sar sari/saree saury sayee sayer see-air, sea-ear sear seare seer seir ser sera serai seraya sere serio sir/sire/siree siri soar soiree soor sora sore soree sori sory souari sour sra sri suer sur sura sure **syer usar user usura/usurae/usure/usury.

Since the bigram far outweighed the monogram, there are probly trigrams (eg, N/R/S or R/S/T) with even more transposals. In any case it seems we do need vowels for very short consonant groupings. How large a group is necessary to get by without vowels? Generally that is, allowing exceptions of course. Re-reading the vowelless text above I'd guess four consonants will usually suffice, even three in most cases. But most ones and twos need vowels. Yet in the context of a sentence even they can very often be read without their vowels, barring exotic words.

A somewhat similar idea to this was explored in Ross Eckler's 82-119 "Compression of English Text". Instead of vowels he eliminated different percentages of the most superfluous letters to create the least ambiguity.

* All-Vowel Words:

My search ran into some of these oddities. Most are in Borgmann's Language on Vacation (p. 156) but not aye-aye and Iouea. Iouea is the shortest word with all five vowels and the shortest four-syllable word, but it was coined to be such by the wordsmith zoologist who named this sponge genus (Wiktionary). Borgmann also cites the one-consonant word Aeaean, which I omitted from my N list as it's capitalised.

* Cognate to Near Definitive Vowelless Anagrams:

Notes: [dagger] = also anagrams with their vowels; [dagger] [dagger] = reversals.
 I. etvmolosicallv related:
 aine, ainee (elders: M, F)   ayin/ain, 'ayn/ain (Hebrew, Arabic
                               letters) airs, arias
[dagger] raise, arise, rise an, one (noted above)        sear, sere
(scorch, dry) areas, ares                  sir, sire aures/auris, ears
reyes, rois (kings) aureus, aureous, aurous 

Plus several alternative spellings of the same word, like ain/ane/one/un, na/nae/nay/no, sere/sear (dry), usura/usurae/usure/usury.

II. unrelated (some flawed bv being different parts of speech):
 airs, raise (voice/s opinions)                raise, rouse airs,
soar (fly/s),                           [dagger][dagger] reus, suer
                                                 (antigrams, defendant/
                                                plaintiff; picture ares,
ures (land area units)                    the two facing off in court
                                                mirroring each other)
auras, rays (haloes)                          roes, rusa (deer) *
[dagger] 'ears, ears (hears--dialect)         sayer, sure (commonly
the same) [dagger] erase, easer                         [dagger] sear,
rase (burn,
                                                burn down) [dagger]
eros, rose (poetic, slang; + pun!)   [dagger] sir, sri eyres, oyers
(courts, trials)                 sore, sour (adj. of people) in, on
(occasionally interchangeable; otherwise usually antigrams) 

* There are also eight other mammals: aruis (sheep), euros/roos/uroos (kangaroos), eyras (wildcats), ursa/ursae (bear/s), urus (aurochs); two + six plants: anu/anyu, naio / aras, arusa, osier, roosa, seraya, souari; two + three birds: ani, nye / ioras, soor, sora; five moneys: aureus, euros, [dagger] oras, reis, [dagger] rosa; eight related to vision(s): iris, seer/seir/ser, eyers, eyesore, rays, resee; and five related to anger or bitterness: [dagger] ires/rise, rouse, sore, sour.

Years (= eras) isn't listed as that y is a consonant, which I believe it isn't in any of the list words.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Jeremiah Farrell
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Word Ways
Date:Nov 1, 2016
Previous Article:Colloquy.
Next Article:Initial-friendly and friendly initial letters.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters