Thursday, December 08, 2005


This may be more fun without the timer. A lipogram is a type of constrained writing, done by forbidding words that have a particular letter or particular letters.

Rewrite Mary Had a Little Lamb without using the letter s. Try also eliminating a, e, h and t. (And anything else you'd like to try.)

Here's the original:
Mary had a little lamb,
its fleece was white as snow;
and everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day,
which was against the rule;
it made the children laugh and play,
to see a lamb at school.
(If you need help Rhymezone has an online rhyming dictionary.)

When you're done, Ross Eckler has come up with several constrained versions of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

If you think that was hard, people have written entire novels under various restraints:

11 Incredible Lipograms

Lipogrammatic Works of Fiction

And a new book that even gets very good reviews. It's a satire on censorship.

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters

From Amazon: Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.
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