Friday, March 17, 2023

Fun with Palindromes

If you use my beginning Greek grammar, you might not realize it, but by chapter 6 you have encountered two Greek palindromes, sophos ("wise") and alla ("but"). Palindrome is a Greek word meaning "running back again." It refers to a word or sentence that reads exactly the same forwards and backwards (as in sophos and alla). Here's a longer Greek example, attributed to the fourth century church father Gregory of Nazianzuz:

  • "Nipson anomēmata mē monan opsin."
  • "Wash my transgressions, not only my face." 

Apparent, palindromes are literally in our genes. I've always enjoyed these examples:

  • "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!" 
  • "Step on no pets."
  • "Madam, I'm Adam." (Her name "Eve," of course, is also a palindrome.) 
  • "Too far, Edna, we wander afoot."
  • "Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?" 
  • "So many dynamos!"
  • "Tis in a potato pan I sit."
  • "Was it a rat I saw?" 
  • "Racecar."
  • "Kayak." 
  • "Deified."
  • "Rotator."

Here's one in German:

  • "Nie grub Ramses Marburg ein."
  • "Never did Ramses bury Marburg." 

And in French, if you ask someone if they know a palindrome and they say, "non," they just used a palindrome. There's got to be a palindrome in Hawaiian but I haven't found it yet. 

Finally, I leave you language geeks with a challenge to translate this Hebrew palindrome.