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The Purple Turtle.

The PURPLE TURTLE is a magical beast. With one glance, it turns an ABBEY into an ALLEY, reduces a BULB to PULP, makes a VESSEL into a VASSAL, and converts a MUMMY to a PUPPY. By turning POMP into a BOMB, MONACO becomes a MENACE. And from TAMPA to TEMPE, it turns KODAK into SODAS. It's enough to give an ENGINE ANGINA.

But there are some things the Purple Turtle cannot do. It can't make a CONNECTION to a COLLECTION, and turning a NEEDLE into a NOODLE is quite beyond it. No matter what it does, SISTER does not TITTER. And though the PURPLING TURTLING is BURBLING, it's not GURGLING.

As you've probably deduced from the above, a Purple Turtle happens when one letter is substituted for all (two or more) of another letter in a word to make another word. But the substitution has to be commutative. That is, the change has to be able to be reversed. This would not be an issue if it weren't for the requirement that all instances of a letter be substituted for.

Due to the availability of on-line word lists, finding Purple Turtles turned out to be an easy task. For this project I combined the web2 and web2a lists that have been around for years with an extension of the Official Scrabble Words list called enablel.txt (downloaded from the National Puzzlers' League site). To this I added a list of US place names extracted from the GNIS database. In the discussion and lists below, place names will be followed by the abbreviation of the state or territory in parenthesis.

I then wrote a program that found all sets of Purple Turtles within the file. A set is all those that are the same except at the substitution points: i.e., BURBLE / GURGLE / PURPLE / TURTLE is a set. My program found more than 5000 sets of Purple Turtles. (If anyone wishes a copy of the file, they can send me email and I'll send it back.)

As you might expect, the bulk of the Purple Turtles found were substitutions of doubled letters such as NEEDLING / NOODLING and CANNOT / CARROT. I felt that these were the least interesting of all the Purple Turtles. Indeed, there seemed to be a direct relationship between the distance of the substitution points and how interesting the Purple Turtle is. The most interesting were those with substitutions at or near opposite ends of the word, such as POULP / SOULS and CERVICES / NERVINES.

Three-letter substitutions are less common than two-letter ones but are not especially rare. However, all but these eight involved doubled letters: ALALA / ULULU, ARABA / URUBU, ARACA / URUCU, ARACARI / URUCURI, CALCIFIC / SALSIFIS, CARAPA / COROPO, TAMBALA / TOMBOLO, and TARATA / TERETE. For the others, it's rare for there to be more than two letters intervening between the doubled letter and the third. PENNYSTONE / PERRY STORE (AL) is the single exception in my file.

There's a handful of four-letter substitutions: BEEBEE / BOOBOO, KAKKAK / TAT-TAT / WAW-WAW, KAVAKAVA / KIVIKIVI, PIRIPIRI / POROPORO / PURUPURU, and PRIBBLE-PRABBLE / PRITTLE-PRATTLE. There are no five-letter substitutions, but there is a single six-letter set: BIBBLE-BABBLE / DIDDLE-DADDLE / TITTLE-TATTLE.

Among the longest solidly written Purple Turtles are several word-length records I'd like to note. Longest overall COLLECTIVENESS / CORRECTIVENESS, MEDDLESOMENESS / METTLESOMENESS, and SLUGGISHNESSES / SLUTTISHNESSES (14 letters); longest with no doubled letters BARBARIZATION / MARMARIZATION (13 letters); longest with three substitutions MAMMIFEROUS / PAPPIFEROUS (11 letters); longest in a set of three or more words DINGLEDANGLE / JINGLE JANGLE / TINGLETANGLE (12 letters).

Another significant record is the largest set of Purple Turtles (14 elements): BABA / CACA / DADA / GAGA / HAHA / KAKA / MAMA / NANA / PAPA / SASA / TA-TA / WAWA / YAYA / ZAZA (ID). There's also a set that substitutes all the vowels: TA-TA / TETE / TITI / TOTO / TUTU / TY TY (GA).

With such a large number of Purple Turtles, it seemed appropriate to see if all 375 possible substitutions were represented. It turned out that 277 were.

AB auras / burbs AD Aira / dird AF Aiae (HI) / fife AH taiga / thigh AK sauna / skunk AN aevis / Nevin (CA, KY) AP area / prep AU zamboorak / zumbooruk AY coala / coyly AC aleak / cleck AE anticar / enticer AG aurae/gurge AI quacksalver / quicksilver AM toatoa / tom-tom AO abelian / obelion AR Aotea / roter AW Aoa (AS) / wow

BC borable / coracle BF bulbil / fulfil BH baba / haha BJ bay-bay / Jay Jay (FL) BL backband / lackland BN bobwhite / nonwhite BP barbal / parpal BS blurb / slurs BV barbe / varve BX berobed / Xeroxed BZ bibb / zizz BD babble / daddle BG barbet / garget BI habnab / Hainai BK banaba / Kanaka BM barb / mann BO bleb / oleo BR beback / rerack BT barbaric / tartaric BW brab / wraw BY baba / yaya

CD cancer / dander CF cicer / filer CH caca / haha CJ coco / Jo Jo (PA) CL cacopathy / lalopathy CN comical / nominal CP crochet / prophet CS calcify / salsify CV calces / valves CE toc-toc / toetoe CG crance / grange CI Concan (TX) / Ionian CK choca / khoka CM codec / modem CO chic / Ohio CR conduce / rondure CT decence / detente CW caca / wawa CY caca / yaya CZ coocoo / zoozoo

DF died / fief DH dumdum / humhum DJ dingledangle / jinglejangle DL dowdy / lowly DN dogged / noggen DR dashed / rasher DT dread / treat DW dada / wawa DZ danda / zanza DG danda / ganga DI odd / oii DK deled / kelek DM daytide / Maytime DP daddies / pappies DS coedited / coesites DV dad / vav DY dawned / yawney

EG tineine / tinging EI dearest / diarist EM toetoe / tom-tom EP tyee / typp ES equate / squats EU enflesh / unflush EH ease / hash EK seine / skink EO mesquite / mosquito ER bee / brr ET suberise / subtrist EY monogene / monogyny

FG faffle / gaggle FI boff / Boii FK fife / kike FM furfur / murmur FO pfft / poot FR fief / rier FT fife / tite FW Afifi / awiwi FH foo-foo / Hoohoo (WV) FJ haft / hajj FL faff / fall FN fifth / ninth FP furfuraceous / purpuraceous FS faff / sass FV ferfet / vervet FY Mafafa (AS) / Mayaya (GU)

GH geegaw / heehaw GJ gagman / jajman GL gadger / ladler GN agog / anon GP gurgle / purple GS gouge / souse GV Galga / valva GY dogleg / doyley GI wagwag / Waiwai GK gong / konk GM gorgon / Mormon GO gleg / oleo GR gugal / rural GT disgorged / distorted GW Gheg / whew GZ gange / zanze

HI phpht / pipit HL horah / loral HN Hohe / none HP heh / pep HT hashed / tasted HV hah / vav HY haha / yaya HK hech / keck HM heathen / meatmen HO sh-sh / soso HS heath / seats HU sh-sh / susu HW haha / wawa HZ Hoohoo (WV) / zoozoo

IK Ioni / konk IO biting / botong IS buriti / bursts IU sibilate / subulate IZ tie-tie / tzetze IL Boii / boll IR heii / Herr (IN) IT Irani / trant IY timpani / tympany JK jejuna / kekuna JM juju / mumu JR ajaja / arara JT jinja / tinta JZ juju / Zu-zu JL juju / lulu JN ajaja / anana JS juju / susu JY Jo Jo (PA) / Yo-yo

KL kavakava / lavalava KN kaik / nain KR kopek / roper KT skylike / stylite KW kaka / wawa KZ bekko / bezzo KM kiaki / Miami KP keeker / peeper KS kalpak / salpas KV kike / vive KY kaka / yaya

LM lanolin / manomin LP lolled / popped LS longfelt / songfest LV sally / savvy LY Lolo / Yo-yo LN foldless / fondness LR colonel / coroner LT libel / Tibet LW palpal / pawpaw LZ Lilith / zizith

MN mummeries / nunneries MR madam / radar MT manism / tanist MW momser / wowser MY mama / yaya MP mammiferous / pappiferous MS maim / sals MV mimer / viver MX Merom (IN) / Xerox MZ bumming / buzzing

NP unwarn / upwarp NS encrown / escrows NU bonbon / boubou NW nagnag / wagwag NZ innards / izzards NR ovenstone / overstore NT banana / batata NV nan / vav NY Mandan / mayday

OR maomao / Marmar OU porporate / purpurate OZ toetoe / tzetze OS ochavo / schavs OY topo / typy

PR pupal / rural PT porpoise / tortoise PW papa / wawa PZ pipit / zizit PS pinup / sinus PV palpiform / valviform PY papa / yaya

RS rider / sides RU armors / aumous RZ burred / buzzed RT roquer / toquet RY herder / heydey

ST shingles / thinglet SW shes / whew SZ tsetse / tzetze SV salse / valve SY lasers / layery

TV tarted / varved TY patent / payeny TW tillot / willow TZ Tantalian / Zanzalian UV euouae / evovae UY tutu / Ty Ty (GA)

VW vaivode / waiwode VZ divvy / dizzy VY vav / yay

WY wawa / yaya WZ wigwag / zigzag


And finally, perhaps the most interesting and certainly my favorite: BAD DEBT / SADDEST.

How Others See Us

In Volume 31(3) of the Journal of Recreational Mathematics, editor Charles Ashbacker writes about Word Ways:
 Words are too important to be used only as a means of transmitting
 information; they should also be used to entertain and amuse.
 That's the philosophy behind the publication of this journal and
 the contributors are successful in their efforts. Some of the best
 puns that I have ever read appear in this journal. Other common
 topics include geometric patterns made with words, patterns of
 letters in words, and dual meanings of words. It is a tribute to the
 richness of language that so many patterns arise in the words that
 we use. The authors also actively examine other languages in their
 searches for interesting linguistic material.

 Wordplay also has an advantage over other areas, in that the
 database is non-static. Words are constantly being added to the
 language, and with the advantage of the modern archiving of
 information, words no longer leave our language at the rate
 that they used to. It is also possible for a practitioner to
 create a new word to describe a circumstance that had not been
 succinctly been named before.

 Wordplay is fun, but it also demonstrates many important
 characteristics of humans. We are imaginative, creative, and can
 find interesting information everywhere. This journal demonstrates
 all of these features and I recommend it to everyone.


Beaverton, Oregon
COPYRIGHT 2004 Jeremiah Farrell
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Tilque, Dan
Publication:Word Ways
Date:Aug 1, 2004
Previous Article:Transposing one genre into another.
Next Article:Malaproverbs, neo-adages, wrongisms.

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