lipogrammatism (lipəˌgramə ti-zəm)

Lipogrammatism is a style of writing in which a letter or group of letters is excluded from a literary work.

Happy October! Recently, my English class received an unusual writing assignment from our teacher. Our assignment was to write a detailed description of our faces. This seemed easy enough, but there was a catch. We could not use the letter “s”.  I thought this was going to be an impossible task. How was I supposed to describe my ears, lips, earrings, eyes, or glasses without the letter “s”?!

This style of writing in which a certain letter or group of letters is excluded is called lipogrammatism. Lipogrammatism contains the Greek roots *lipo- meaning lacking or without and –gram meaning something written. The Greek word “gramma” means letter. The word lipogrammatism literally means “lacking a letter.”

For me, this was a challenging assignment. My teacher said that the result was likely to be “odd” and indeed it was. Below is an excerpt of my lipogram:

I have thick, refulgent, long black hair. I have a wide grin with mainly permanent teeth. Each dark chocolate colored ocular organ is framed by long curved blepharal hair.  I detect fragrance or odor with a narrow bridge in the center of my face. Upon the bridge, I wear a purple hued myopia correction device. I have a dimple in my cheek. I wear a tiny, gold hoop earring in each earlobe.

Have any of you written a lipogram before? If so, I would love to read it! Please post a link or paste it onto a comment. For those of you who have never written a lipogram, I challenge you to do this assignment and post it below in the comments.

*The Greek root –lipo also means fat

2 Comments

  1. The most famous lipogram is probably the novel Gadsby from 1939. It does not have a single letter “e.” Think of all the words the author can’t include, such as “the,” “they,” “he,” “she,” and “are.” It seems impossible.

    Here is an excerpt. Do you think it sounds natural?

    If Youth, throughout all history, had had a champion to stand up for it; to show a doubting world that a child can think; and, possibly, do it practically, you wouldn’t constantly run across folks today who claim that “a child don’t know anything.” A child’s brain starts functioning at birth; and has, amongst its many infant convolutions, thousands of dormant atoms, into which God has put a mystic possibility for noticing an adult’s act, and figuring out its purport.

    Up to about its primary school days a child thinks, naturally, only of play. But many a form of play contains disciplinary factor. “You can’t do this,” or “that puts out out,” shows a child that it must think, practically, or fail. Now, if, throughout childhood, a brain has no opposition, it is plain that it will attain a position of “status quo,” as with our ordinary animals. Man knows not why a cow, dog, or lion was not born with a brain on a par with ours; why such animals cannot add, subtract, or obtain from books and schooling, that paramount position which Man Holds today.

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