Mr. Nym Goes Adventuring

A palindrome, you will recall, is a word that can be read both forwards and backwards, like dad, or the language name Malayalam. But we needn’t stop at words; entire phrases can be palindromed, as for example, in the phrase: Otto made Ned a motto. And why stop there? Why indeed. In the entire history of humankind, no one has ever been able to fashion an entire coherent story in which each and every sentence is a palindrome. Everybody knows those lame one-liners like Able was I ere I saw Elba, and A man, a plan, a canal, Panama. But how far does that get you, after all? Today, on the Star Chamber pages, history is made. Herewith, we present you with that most remarkable of remarkable creations, the wholly palindromic story.

Mr. Nym Goes Adventuring

(Editor’s note: I know that’s not a palindrome; it hasn’t started yet)

My name is Siema Nym. Once I went to the city of Foyticeh tott New Iecno. There I met a magical dwarf named Deman-Frawdla Cigamat E. Miereht.

“Eciovy reeh canie mot diase!” he said to me, in a cheery voice.

“Huh? Em etib,” I helpfully read from my phrasebook, but he said, “Dias eh tub, koobe sarhpym morf da erylluf plehi, bite me!”

“O no!”

“Ecanem ta ergh tiwdna reduol diase!” he said, louder, and with great menace.

He taunted me… he threatened to poke me in the shoulderblade with a candlestick, all the while growling in a low voice, “Eciov wol anig nilworgelih weht; llakcit seldna cahtiw edalbred-luoh seht nieme kopot denetaerh… tehem detnuateh.”

What a terrible mistake to come to Foyticeh tott New Iecno; I wish instead I had gone to Tenog da Hidaet-Snihsi Wionce Iwent tothe Cityo’Fo Temoco Tekatsim el-Birret a Tahw!! At least there they will offer you a tasty plate of the local delicacy, caciled lacoleht foe talpy-tsatau oy reffolli wyehte rehtt saelta. Mmmm.

“Look over there!” I shouted, hoping to draw his attention away from my increasingly desperate situation by pointing out a low-flying fruitbat native to his country whose name is quite long and complicated and which I will abbreviate here (if you will forgive me) as a saem-revokool*.

No luck; he glared and gurgled, “El grug d’na deral gehk culon…”

“Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?”

He paused and tapped his finger thoughtfully on his long nolsih-noy llufth guoh tregnifsih deppat d’nad esuapeh.

Aha! I left and never went back to the city of Foyticeh tot Kcabt New Revend Natfeli.**

My name is Siema Nym.

The end neeht.***

  • Its full name is Saemev igrof-lliwuoy fier eh etaiverbba lliwihcihw d’nadetacilp moc d’nagnol etiuq sieman esohwyrtnuoc sih ot evitan tabtiurf gniylf-wol a tuo arey ouchec kingt his gnitniop yb noitautis etarepsed ylgnisaercni ym morf yawa noitnetta sih ward ot gnipoh detuohs Ierehtre vokool. Wow.

** A law came into effect during the course of the story that actually changed the city’s name! Hah!

*** I accidentally typed the word “neeht” at the end of this sentence. It was an honest mistake.

A trip to Mexico

As the noble Coffee Czar confided in our last installment at this site, the board of directors for Star Chamber Consolidated Heavy Industries went adventuring in Mexico last month (see our
helpful phrasebook
on the subject if you plan on visiting). It was a delightful excursion, made all the more pleasant by the fact that one of our number, zaP, speaks the language and is intimately familiar with the sights.

I found the place names in Mexico almost as arresting as the visual splendor: Xochimilco, Ixtaccihuatl, Teotihuacan. Some of these names defy pronunciation by the typical gringo (such as myself), but if you keep at it and tame the sounds, you are rewarded with gemstones on the tip of your tongue. Once you’ve captured the volcano name Popocatepetl, once you can conjure it up at will, you can practically see the steam belching from its dark conic peak. Cuauhtemoc, Kwau-TE-mok, was a warrior, and if you see his likeness and hear his name properly pronounced, that stressed second syllable falling forcefully against the front teeth, Kwau-TE-mok, you can sense the repect he commanded (it’s no accident the current mayor of Mexico City has the given name Cuauhtemoc).

Whereas the Coffee Czar amused us in the van by carving tiny animals out of soapstone and scrap wood, I entertained my fellow travelers by reading all the place names aloud as often as possible. I’m told it can be annoying, but it had the curious effect of magnifying my there-ness. Even now I can cook up a little Mexican there-ness by pushing my finger across the atlas pages and reading aloud: Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Iztapalapa, and Iztacalco. To my mind, the conquering Spaniard’s names (San Miguel, San Luis, Santa Ana, repeat…) don’t have nearly the same staying power as the solid Indian names. Fortunately for Mexico, the old place names survived more often than they were lost. Good place names reek of earthy there-ness, and Mexico is blessed with an abundance of good place names. And I don’t know anybody who doesn’t need a good dose of there-ness every now and again.

Reversals of fortune in placenames and prose figure prominently in our contribution this week. It may seem a matter of no great importance, but zaP spelled backwards is Paz, which is the Spanish word for peace. In this season of darkness becoming lightness at long last, may peace, and an abiding sense of here-ness, be with you all.