LINGUIST List 6.650

Mon 08 May 1995

Sum: Palindromes

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dr. Manfred Immler, Sum: Palindromes-1

Message 1: Sum: Palindromes-1

Date: Mon, 24 Apr 95 18:54:23 +0Sum: Palindromes-1
From: Dr. Manfred Immler <>
Subject: Sum: Palindromes-1

[Moderators' note: Manfred Immler has sent us a comprehensive collection of
palindromes, including some from Fijian, Norwegian, and Japanese (among
others). However, the complete summary is over 3,000 lines long, so we
have put it on the listserv, in two files. Interested readers can retrieve
these listserv files by sending the message

get paldrom1 txt linguist
get paldrom2 txt linguist


Below is a sampling of what you will find in the complete file.]

Dear friends and co-fans of palindromes !!

I have now received many palindromes from many of you, and I want to
share them with all of you; for transmission safety I will break it up
in two parts before sending it to the linguist list.


Several weeks ago I had the lucky idea of asking over the Internet for
palindromes in the hope of receiving as many as possible new
palindromes I did not know yet, and I was overwhelmed by the many
answers and beautiful specimens I received, many of them very amusing
and very interesting - and some so beautiful long lists, too! I will
now publish for all of you the postings I received about palindromes,
with only some minor editing - as I do not want to have too much work
with it. (As you will certainly understand, I will not go to the
trouble of eliminating the 'duplicates' among the many palindromes
communicated to me.)

And I hope that this first round will inspire many more readers to
think about palindromes which they did not yet send to us, and to mail
them so we can post them to the rest of the LINGUIST community in a new
round later on.

What I would be interested in PARTICULARLY, are more palindromes in
French, Italian and Spanish; I am convinced there must be many many in
these languages since their structure should allow that there should be
MANY palindromes possible; but up to now I only know few.


Hi you all out there !

I am a total fan(atic) of palindromes, such as "A man, a plan, a canal
- Panama!" or "in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni" - i.e., words or
sentences in any language which, when read from behind result either in
the same message or, even more interesting, in a new, different,
however meaningful message. I assume there are many palindromes I do
not know yet, so I would just want to ask any one of you:

 If you know of one or more palindrome(s) in any language, please
 write them to me via LINGUIST, I will then make the results
 accessible to everybody.

Also if you know of books and/or articles citing palindromes, please
write me !!!

And here is my absolute favorite, the best I know:

 "Nie fragt sie: ist gefegt? Sie ist gar fein" (source unknown)
 (she never asks: has the sweeping been done? She is very refined.)

I would be thankful to receive as many as possible palindromes, Thank
you! And if it is not in German, English, French or Italian, please
also add an English translation ...

 "Koop ik 'n ei, dan nadie 'n kip ook" (when I buy an egg, then also
 a chicken)

 "Esope reste ici et se repose"

So long, I am looking forward to many messages!

"Madam, I'm Adam"

Manfred Immler

Herbert Pfeiffers Buch "Oh Cello voll Echo", ein Buch randvoll mit so
wundervollen Palindromen wie "Das i von Novi Sad", "Ob Marx, Ajax,
Rambo", "Boxe, Ex-OB!", "Dr. Busch, CSU, BRD" und "Neben uns nur Esel
... u.a. starb ein Leser uns nun eben" ?

Some more:

"Die liebe Tote! Beileid!" (source unknown)
"Na, Freibierfan"
"Leporellos oller Opel"

A wonderful Greek palindrome, written on the edge of a well or a font

 nipson anom_emata m_e monan opsin

(where "_e" stands for Greek "eta" and "ps" is one letter in Greek),
"wash (off) my sins, not only my face".



There are many palindromes in Finnish; one of my favorites is
 "Neulo taas niin saat oluen" (knit again, you will get a beer).

Some years ago two young men published a small book of poems that were
palindromes. Some were really long and had a good message - as a good
poem does. Would you please tell me your address, and I will try to
find that book again, if you are interested in Finnish. Sorry, I would
not be able to translate them.

All the best
Pirjo Karvonen

 From: Stephen P Spackman (

Guy L Steele in _Common Lisp the Language_ (2nd ed 1990) p170:

"Unremarkable was I ere I saw Elba Kramer, nu?"
"A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal - Panama!"

Palindrome extension is an interesting talent :-).

 From: (Elisabeth Neugebauer):


Ich habe zwar keine Palindrome zu bieten aber daiuer eine moegliche
In den Buechern von Adrian Plass (zumindest in "Tagebuch eines frommen
Chaoten" und "Andromedas Briefe") tauchen immer wieder mal Palindrome
auf, weil eine der Figuren sich mit Vorliebe welche ausdenkt. Den Verlag
weiss ich leider nicht.

Ansonsten viel Spass beim Suchen,
 Elisabeth Neugebauer

 From: Graham Russell (

The most outrageous extension of the "Panama" palindrome that I've
seen is in Guy L. Steele's "Common Lisp: The Language (Second
Edition)", Digital Press 1990. It occurs on p.406 during an
exposition of functions used for locating items within a sequence
which satisfy some test:

 A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs,
 a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag,
 a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again
 (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo,
 cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal-Panama!

The test employed here does not involve immediate relevance...


Graham Russell



 From: Michael Niv (

able was I ere I saw Elba. (What napoleon could have said)
remarkable was I ere I saw Elba Kramer.
Unremarkable was I ere I saw Elba Kramer, nu?

Sit on a potato pan, otis.


-- Michael.

 From: Larry Horn (

Hi. The palindromes below come partly from an electronic collection
compiled and in some cases invented by David Hodges, Dan Hoey, and
John Jensen. Some of the below (and others) are included in various
volumes of "Language at Play" byWillard Espy and in "Common Lisp, the
Language", by Guy Steele, as well as in postings on various
language-related lists and users groups. The editing is mine.

First, there's the gold standard, originally designed to honor
President Theodore Roosevelt:
 A man, a plan, a canal--Panama!

[[ I believe it is dedicated to Ferdinand Lesseps who planned the Suez and the
 Panama canal - M. Immler ]]

And then come the extensions. A couple of favorites:
 A man, a plan, a cat, a canal--Panama!
 A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal--Panama!

and if we want to get REALLY baroque...
 A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, a coloratura, maps,
 percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again
 (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a run, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a
 peon, a canal--Panama!

Or, for a change of pace,
 A dog, a plan, a canal--pagoda!

Then, of course, there's always Napoleon:
 Able was I ere I saw Elba.

or, in the unexpurgated version,
 Unremarkable was I ere I saw Elba, Kramer, nu?

The first attested palindromic discourse? Fundamentally, it's
 --Madam, I'm Adam.

Some more elaborated (if not downright poetic) examples:
 I roamed under it as a tired, nude Maori.
 Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas!
 "Reviled I did live", said I, "as evil did I deliver."
 Sir, I soon saw Bob was no Osiris.

Getting hungry? Too bad; it seems to be a non-smoking restaurant.
 Cigar? Toss it in a can, it is so tragic.

Look at all the celebrities in this joint:
 Ed, I saw Harpo Marx ram Oprah W. aside!
 So, G. Rivera's tots are Virgos?
 Sis, ask Costner to NOT rent socks 'as is'!
 Plan no damn Madonna LP.
 T. Eliot nixes sex in toilet!

Unfortunately, not all the guests could make it:
 Noriega can idle, held in a cage (iron).

Never really recovered from what they found in his canal, I guess.
Let's see what's on the menu:
 Tuna nut
 U.F.O. tofu
 Kayak salad (Alaska yak)
 Eel: urbane hen a brulee
 Emu fat; sap; pasta fume
 Go hang a salami! I'm a lasagna hog!
 (No lemons. No melon.)

But don't worry about overdoing it:
 Doc, note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet
 on cod.

And, to wash it all down,
 Lager, Sir, is regal.

Now, to wash up, we'll need the services of the longest one-word
merchant, just arrived from Finland for our benefit:
 Saippuakauppias 'soap dealer'

OK, time for some post-prandial entertainment. But what shall it be?
 O.E.D. or rodeo?

And afterward? Something's going on in there...
 Dennis and Edna sinned.
 Naomi, did I moan?
 Solo gigolos!
 Eros? Sidney, my end is sore!
 Ma is a nun, as I am.
 Sex at noon taxes.

Please be gentle...
 Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots!

That's it for now;
 So, Ida, Adios!

--Larry Horn
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