Lee Sallows



Take a glance at the top left-hand corner of this page and you'll see a cartoon of mine that appeared long ago in Word Ways, The Journal of Recreational Linguistics. Whence came the picture? The answer is simple. I am a compulsive word-player. Being fond of palindromes, I often found myself examining the word ‘palindrome’ in thought. Noting one day that the ending ‘drome’ coincided with the beginning of ‘dromedary’, I came up with the word ‘palindromedary’. But what could that word mean? To me the answer was obvious: a palindromic dromedary, a beast I could see in my mind's eye. This had nothing to do with Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Dolittle and push-mi-pull-yus, about which I had then never heard, but purely my own verbal-visual pun. Not being much of a draughtsman, I then took a pack of Camel cigarettes and some tracing paper to help me create a drawing of what I had in mind. I even borrowed the palm trees and pyramid for effect. I then included it with a jokey piece entitled ‘Palingroans and Amalgrams’ and submitted both to Word Ways where they appeared together in the November 1988 number, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp 237-8. You can see both here. Don't be fooled by the primitive typography. In the field of wordplay Word Ways has never been matched.


Thus, for what it's worth, I am the inventor of the word and concept palindromedary*. Not an achievement to write home about perhaps, but one that reflects the kind of person I am and that is a mild source of satisfaction to me, for all its triviality. But try typing in ‘palindromedary’ on Google. Whereupon, despite a deluge of hits, with the single exception indicated by the above link, you will seek in vain for the slightest trace of my name. It seems that the word palindromedary has entered into wider usage but without its author receiving so much as a nod of recognition for the fact. Little wonder then that on thinking back to my English teacher at school telling the class what a great achievement it would be to contribute even a single new word to our language, I tend to snort.


Nor does irritation stop with this example. Like many another, I'm only too happy to run across a mention of my work on the web. However, the inaccuracies and other blemishes that so often accompany quotations or examples, merely emphasize how shallow and indifferent is the actual interest evinced. Hence the present website, where I can present my own work in my own words, unmarred by the omissions and distortions so often introduced by second parties. The present layout is still tentative. No doubt I shall add to it and change things around from time to time. By all means write if you have something to say. A photo of the author is here.

* My rendering of a hippodromedary can be seen here.

If you like self-descriptive sentences and suchlike then you might like to glance my expanded article Reflexicons, recently updated [14 June 2020]. The earliest version of the piece first appeared some 28 years ago in Word Ways, a small-circulation quarterly consisting of crudely printed A4s stapled together between soft covers. Word Ways was aimed at word and letter-play enthusiasts, such as myself, among whom it was held in affectionate regard. I published a number of pieces in Word Ways at that time, some of them quite innovative, or so I believed. However, I found the total lack of feedback from other contributors so disheartening that I let my subscription lapse and stopped contributing.

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