Thursday, September 6, 2012


(This article first appeared in the linguistic magazine Word Ways in a slightly different format).


It is common knowledge that man`s ability to communicate sets him apart from other creatures. Only recently, however, has it been discovered (much to the chagrin of L’Acadamie Franรงaise) that man has been using English palindromes throughout the aeons. A paleontologist has interpreted one of the oldest cave murals ever found to be saying, “Og,go!'” Civilization is replete with significant palindromic ejaculations. In chronological order, here are some of the noteworthy palindromic utterances.

Was it Ararat I saw? (On the 17th day of the 7th month of confinement with odorous beasts, Noah does a double take when the ark comes to a rest upon Mount Ararat; circa 3500 B.C.)

Sex, Rex Xerxes? (Attributed to an Athenian courtesan after the Persian king Xerxes led an invasion of Greece; 480 B.C.)

Splat! I await Alps. (A wary Hannibal lingers at the foothills of The Alps after one of his soldiers was crushed by an elephant; 218 B.C.)

Draw O Caesar, erase a coward! (Cicero`s advice to Caesar to launch a pre-emptive counterattack against Brutus goes unheeded; 44 B.C.)

Mary bred a derby ram. (To supplement Jacob’s meager carpenter’s income, Mary raises thoroughbred rams. The one named Shofar goes on to sweep the Triple Crown of sheep racing; 3 B.C.)

Lepers, alas, repel. (A leper begs Jesus to cure him so that he can meet a nice Jewish girl on J-Date. (27 A.D.)

Rise, sir. (Jesus commands Lazarus to come alive; 28 A.D.)

No! Rome, moron. (Attila chastises a hearing-challenged Hun who was heading to pillage Nome, Alaska; 452.)

Was it a rat I saw? (Attributed to the Pied Piper of Hamelin ; 1284.)

Hot, oh! (Joan of Arc is barbecued; 1431.)

Egad! A base tone denotes a bad age. (French astrologer Michel Nostradamus in

Centuries predicts the onslaught of oxymoronic hip-hop music; 1555.)

Sums are deified, Erasmus. (John Calvin decries society`s materialism to Desiderius Erasmus; 1563.)

Posh serf – a fresh sop. Referring to Oliver Cromwell, the last words spoken by Charles 1 at his 1649 execution.

Able was I ere I saw Elba. (A marooned Napoleon (known in palindromese as the "namable Elba man") raves in English  during his exile; 1821.)

X Ramses? - Order red roses, Marx! (Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx`s Communist Manifesto collaborator chastises Marx for acting like a sexist bourgeois pig; 1848.)

No in uneven union! (Jefferson Davis exhorts the South to secede from the Union; 1861.)

Are we not drawn onwards, we Jews, drawn onward to new era? Theodore Herzl tries to drum support for Zionism; 1897.)

A man, a plan, a canal- Panama. (Woodrow Wilson dedicates the opening of the Panama Canal to its` chief engineer, George Washington Goethals; 1914.)

Jar a tonga; nag not a raj. (Winston Churchill admonishes Mahatma Gandhi; 1942.)

Can I attain a C? (Dubya soliloquizes in his quest for mediocrity while attending Yale; 1967)

Nu, Nasser? Race - caress a nun. (Attributed to Golda Meir; 1969.)

Neil, an Alien! (Astronaut Buzz Aldrin mistakes his own shadow for a Moonman; 1969.)

Drat! Sadat a dastard. (Ariel Sharon expresses his distrust of Anwar Sadat during the Camp David negotiations; 1979.)

Di, did I as I said I did? (An absent-minded Prince Charles asks his wife, Princess Diana, if she remembers what he has just said; 1987.)

Egad! A Red loses older adage.(Ronald Reagan admits that Gorby seems to be a swell type of guy; 1988.)

Drat! Saddam a mad dastard. (The Emir of Kuwait, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah expresses his disgust at the chicanery of Saddam Hussein; 1990.)

Sex at noon taxes. (Attributed to Bill Clinton declining a midday service call from Monica; 1998.)

Now, I won. (George Bush is relieved after the Supreme Court rules that he has won Florida's 25 electoral votes and will thus become the 43rd President of the United States; 2000.)

No, it is open. I felt, Bush, subtle fine position. (Attributed to Vladmir Putin speaking to George W Bush. It is unclear whether Putin is referring to Russian society, or to Bush’s zipper; 2005.)

Imam am I. (Attributed to Muqtada al Sadr who in a clandestine meeting with Condoleeza Rice in Baghdad tells her that he should not be addressed as His Holiness; 2007.)

Tao mania in a moat. (Headline in the Rangoon Gazette tells up the mass drowning suicides of monks protesting the repression by the Burmese government; 2007,)

Sex? Obama boxes! (An aide to Barack Obama vigorously denies that his boss is having an affair and explains that Obama’s chief extra-curricular activities are b-ball and boxing; 2008.)

Not now! Foe Tibetan ate bite of won ton. (China’s President Hu Jintao is vexed when his spying on the Dalai Lama is disrupted; 2008.)

THE END (for now)
DNE EHT (won rof)

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