Saturday, 1 November 2008

Eunoia is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels

It's supposed to mean 'beautiful thinking'.

There was a radio 4 program on a couple of days ago about a book of this title written by a Canadian poet, Christian Bok. He was inspired by a French group from the 1920s and 30s who had produced poetry based on restricted use of vowels and with a complex set of rules to see if it was possible to break the normal 'requirements' of language and still retain meaning and artistic value.

In each chapter he'd very carefully used words that only contained one of the vowels and brought out the innate character each of those vowels carried. It took him 7 years to write, and rather than do it haphazardly, he'd carefully worked through some-or-other dictionary, carefully selecting words, categorising them as verbs, nouns and adjectives, then using at least 98% from each vowel.

The BBC carries a report and examples if you care to look.

So after a long description of the processes involved, his feelings on the characters of each vowel etc, the guy actually read some of his 'poetry.

Let's just say that it makes a better story than it does poetry. The 4th comment down under the article sums it up well.

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