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Frequency heterograms.

I. Transposals of ETAOIN SHRDLU

Etaoin shrdlu, the twelve most used English letters in order by an old count, is an entry in Webster's 3rd (W3) as the Linotype not-to-be-printed marker slug. When I noticed that malnourished misses by one letter (t) being a transposal of it I was tantalised and sought a full transposal. I found but one, outlandisher, an obsolete word for foreigner (OED) already noted by Darryl Francis in the February '73 Kickshaws (WW73-43). I also worked up two polyanagrams of etaoin shrdlu 'defining' it from two different angles, linguistic meaning (1, from up/dn p.17) and physical function as a slug (2):

1. Hits don a rule. (Under-hots ail as ruled "no hit".)

2. Linos had true hard 'line-oust' shard; "Line out, lose it!" had run on 'shed' ritual

[1. Hits and hots are the most popular letters, the rule is their order. 2. Linotypers routinely imprinted the metal slugs ('shards') with this self-referential "omit" message when needed.]

II. Frequency Heterograms

The previous search inspired a general hunt for transposals of the n most frequently used letters for each number n. These will all be heterograms--non-pattern words with no repeated letters, what Dmitri Borgmann called solo isograms. He gave many 13-15-letter examples, mostly coinages including a few 16-17s, in Word Ways (85-67) and Language on Vacation (Scribners,'65, p.296). None of his used only top letters, all missing by at least two. Here are my results, including those from another frequency count--that of the whole Cambridge Encyclopedia (D. Crystal, Cambr. Encycl. of the English Language,'95, p.265). Both show a surprising number of blanks--which I hope readers can fill. Less common words are defined below. All are in W3 unless marked (M) (Macquarie'01), (R) (Random House'66), (C) (Chambers), or (O) (OED). Thanks to Jeff Grant for definitions from the last two sources and for other help.</p>

<pre> n nth Linotype letters 1 E E e 2 T et to 3 A ate eat eta tae tea 4 O toes 5 I oatie 6

N -- 7 S atonies 8 H -- 9 R hairstone 10

D -- 11 L -- 12 U outlandisher n Cambridge Encyclopedia words nth 1 = (same letters as etaoin shrdlu) E 2 ea ae

A 3 = " "

T 4 -

I 5 entia taine tenia tinea

N 6 = "

O 7 otarine

R 8 anoestri arsonite notaries notarise rosinate senorita

S 9 orientals relations serotinal tailerons L 10 -- H 11

-- D 12 --

C </pre> <p>et ate (dialect), or and (R) (in Latin phrases such as et al.)

te ti in the musical scale (M,R), or Taoist virtue (R), or a variant of tee, anything T-shaped

ae one (Scot. dial.)

ea river or stream (Eng. dial.)

tae to or toe (Scot. dial.)

toea (M) coin of Papua New Guinea, 1/100th of a kina

oatie (O) var. of oaty (in OED quotations)

entia entities, pl. of ens

mine (O) taken (obs.); also a surname

tenia tapeworm, var. of taenia

atonies slacknesses of muscle (lack of tonus) or of pronunciation (lack of stress)

otarine of the eared seal family

anoestri vat. of anestri, pl. of anestrus, the period between heats in female animals

arsonite var. of arsenite, an arsenic salt (Google); also a rare var. of arsonist (C)

rosinate var. of resinate, a salt or ester of resin acid or of rosin

hairstone quartz thickly penetrated with hairlike crystals of other minerals

serotinal of the latter usually drier part of summer

tailerons (C) differentially operable ailerons and elevators of an aircraft's tailplane

III. We Try Harder.

To fill the blanks here are some flawed or nonce transposals (bold), or (free) the best of the near-misses--a wrong letter of the highest rank (superscript) replacing the lowest ranked missing letter (second superscript). * = slot filled in first table (as with n's 1-3 & 9)</p>

<pre> n nth Linotype letters 4 O *# 5 I *# 6

N astone atones Easton (7 -5) 7 S * Estonia# 8 H

oatenish# anoestri (9 -8) etc (above) 10 RD throne-dais#

soldier ant (11 -8) authorised (12 -6) 11 L detrusional (12 -8) chifarones (13 -10) 12 U thousand-lire# malnourished (14-2) 13 C lact-nourished# maltnourished (14-13) the binoculars (20 -10) 14 M guild merchants (16 -4) 16 FG

guild of merchants n Cambridge Encyclopedia letters

nth 4 ante Aten etna neat tane (5 -4)

I 5 * etain Etain Teian# N 6 = nerita ratine retain retina Tirane (7 -6) O 7 * ratione#

R 8 *#

S 10 ion halters north aisle# throne-dais (11-10) LH anchorites chain store (12 -9) charleston (12 -4) 11 = (14 -12) and (12 -11) D 12 outlandisher (14 - 13) malnourished (14 - 3) C 13 mid-Charleston#

M lact-nourished (14 - 13) malnnourished (14 - 12) 14 guild merchants (17-6)

U 16 guild of merchants (17 -16)

FP </pre> <p>Definitions (in W3 or noted):

Aten (M, R) the first monotheistic God, Egyptian c. 1360BC; also Aton etna: old heating device used in chemistry, named after the volcano tane: taken or tone (Scot. dialect)


Perth, Australia
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Publication:Word Ways
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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