have two lengths: number of letters when written, number of syllables when
spoken. There are several words which have 8 letters but only one syllable
(strength, sleights, and thoughts).
iotacism n. The conversion of other vowel sounds
in Greek to the sound of iota.
Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries, a harmless
-- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Now, "iotacism" holds a record: 8 letters and
Does the date January 27, 1777 mean anything to you?
Sixteen syllables when spoken. That's a record which will stand for
exactly 1,000 years. January 27, 2777 will establish a new record
of 17 syllables, and it won't be exceeded for 5 millenia.
The shortest dates, by the way, have 3 syllables (March
1, 1 and May 10, 10). The most recent 3-syllable date was June 12,
12. Jesus still faced puberty.
Abbreviations save letters. Often they save syllables.
For example, IBM saves 6, same as U.S.A. But 3M saves 10. TLD
(Triple Letter Designator) saves 5. RBI
only saves 1. TWA costs an extra syllable. World Wide Web costs
6 syllables when abbreviated WWW.
What word can be pronounced quicker by adding a syllable
What word can be pronounced funny by taking a syllable out
In realms of commerce, of course, TLDs do more than abbr.
Building big motorcycles motivated Birmingham Small Arms to become BSA,
diversification into computers induced National Cash Register to become
NCR, and the name Bavarian Motor Works is known to fewer than half the
yuppies making payments on BMWs. It is unclear to me, by the way,
that initialization improves Trans World Airlines.
Another record held by "iotacism": It is
the least useful word in the English Language.
Here's what I want to know: If some old Greek had enough
initiative to invent "iotacism," why can't somebody come up with a word
for "run batted in"?