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How to construct palindromes

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A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same way forwards and backwards, like kayak or Madam, I’m Adam. The word comes to us from palindromos, made up of a pair of Greek roots: palin (meaning “again”) and dromos (meaning “way, direction”). It occurs in English as early as the seventeenth century, when the poet and playwright Ben Jonson referred to “curious palindromes.” Some palindromes, the simplest sort, are reversible words, often with a consonant-vowel-consonant vowel-consonant (or CVCVC) spelling, like civic, level, dewed, radar, refer, rotor, and tenet. Shorter palindromes are common too, like pup, mom, and wow. Longer ones include racecar and rotator.  The alternating consonant-vowel shapes is convenient but not necessary, and palindromes like noon, deed, boob, (with a CVVC shape), deified and reifier (with a CVVCVVC shape), and redder (with a CVCCVC shape) exist as well. If you ignore the hyphen between its parts, the CVCCVC compound pull-up works as well. Some fans of this sort of wordplay insist that true palindromes must spell the same word in both directions, so live and evil, dessert and tressed, and era and are would not count as true palindromes. When words can be reversed but the meaning changes, they are sometimes called heteropalindromes. I’m not that fussy though. They are all palindromes to me. To understand how to make palindromes, it helps to think about the combinations that can begin and end words. English syllables can begin with a single consonant letter or end with letter clusters like thw, dw, tw, thr, dr, tr, kw, qu, cr, kr, kn, cl, kl, pr, fr, br, gr, pl, ph, fl, bl, and gl, as in thwart, dwindle, tweet, through, dream, train, kwanza, queen, creek, kraut, know, pring, fret, brew, gray, play, phone, fly, and glow.   But many of these clusters don’t occur in reverse at the end of words.  At the end of words, we find wd, wt, rd, rt, rc, rk, lc, lk, rp, rf, rb, rg, pl, lf, and lb, as in lewd, newt, bard, cart, arc, talc, walk,. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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