P is for palindrome
A palindrome is a word, a sentence or a row of words, or even a longer statement that has the same meaning when the letters are reversed.
A man, a plan, a canal: Panama
P is for pangram
A pangram is a sentence that contains all the letters of the alphabet.
The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.
My girl wove six dozen plaid jackets before she quit.
P is for paraprosdokian
Paraprosdokian is a newly formed word created from the Greek for “against expectation”. It is a figure of speech with a surprise ending, popular with comedians.
I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it. —Groucho Marx.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with. —Anonymous.
P is for prosody and prosify
What’s that? Prosody is the study of poetry, even though it sounds as if it should be about prose. The word contains inside it the root ode, which is a lyric poem, perhaps meant to be sung. Prosody includes the study of versification, including metre, rhyme, and stanzas.
Getting the feel of the rhythms of a language as it is spoken is important for gaining understanding, and therefore, poetry is important for learning a language.
Prosify, on the other hand, means to turn something into prose.
- Can you find another palindrome? How about a pangram?
- Can you create a paraprosdokian?
- Find a little poem and write it out as prose (that is, prosify it).
Special reading assignment
Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot,
Nine days old!
— English nursery rhyme, first published in 1760
Note: This blog post is an excerpt from a book, “English Manual: Letter by Letter,” to be published in the fall of 2014.