A perfect example

wordsmith ambigram

I often talk about how some words seem to hover in the ether (or aether, if you prefer) and will themselves into being, often by jumping into multiple brains near-simultaneously. And now I have a great example of this phenomenon, which I can share with you.
I just (and by 'just', I mean 'in the past several weeks') got a lovely email from Anthony Durity, in response to my TED talk, and letting me know a word he invented, ygology. Ygology, is, of course, the study of palindromes.
Now, I thought, that's a cool word. Let's Google it. So I did, and found some competing coinage claims.
Which, frankly, only makes sense. Knowing what a palindrome is, and knowing the suffix -ology, ygology was inevitable. It had to be born; English almost demanded it.
It's probably possible (with some taking of depositions) to determine exactly who first used ygology, and when, and in response to what … but why bother? We have the word, which is the important thing, after all. I think coining claims should be like Nobels; nobody minds if two or three people win one together.
The illustration above is an ambigram, a kind of visual palindrome, done by John Langdon. Check out his website!

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12 thoughts on “A perfect example

  1. Oh, I love making ambigrams. The best one I ever made was for my little brother’s name, Dmitri. Actually, I made three versions. They’re fun.


  2. how would you even pronounce that? i-gology? or would it have to be orally palindromic as well, such as ee-jology? …if the word palindrome doesn’t find the necessity to be palindromic, why should the study of such words be? Oh sure it’s fun, but impractical. Shall we rename palindromes to semordromes? or spalinilaps? with the singulars being emordrome and palinilap? Or maybe the studiers of them shall be stsigologists?


  3. Someone who studies palindromes would surely be a ‘tsygologyst’… giving ‘tsygology’ as the study of palindromes. Not itself a palindrome, but then as Sue points out, neither is ‘palindrome’.


  4. semodromes could work. Like “places where meanings fight”.And it doesn’t translate awfully, there’s “aigología” in spanish and italian.


  5. Sarah, it’s ‘erinaceous’, which might make why it’s my favorite word more apparent. I like it because it’s silly, and because it has the string E-R-I-N in it. Blame a childhood of never being able to get personalized pencils or license plates. When I was young “ERIN” was an unusual name!


  6. if you ever do give those nobelsi think i may have been first with ygology as well as tsigologist a few others like that in my 1996 booki love me vol i


  7. I coined Ygology in 98, using it as the title for a CDR of my favourite They Might Be Giants songs, and then I discovered it on the Web shortly afterwards. For a while, that persons site was the only reference to the word on the Web. He kindly gave me credit on the site for having come up with the word as well.Its probably been around for decades though, scribbled on the backs of pages of miscellaneous university students class notes, but it just hadnt made its Web debut until 99.


  8. dear klaatu42 as for the web debut of ygology i trust you are rightbut about the earliest minting of the coin itselfyou must have overflown what i just said about a copyrighted 1996 citationi love me vol ii was aware of not being original at that time with the word aibohphobia it may be that i was copying dmitri borgmann or was being truly original at that timewith ygology tho i am sure my pronunciation was original btw dear suewhy golly geebut i honestly dont remember if i was the true originator of the word at that time or notso if you are authenticating the coindo call it 1996 or earlier klaatu keep looking for it in borgmann 1960swhere you may very well find the original gold dear erin again tooi do realize you said why bother in 2007 yikes its 2009 alreadybut tracing such coinages was one of the purposes of that encyclopedic 1996 book a longtime interest of mine thanx for the nice site opportunity to explain this


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