Long Anagram by James H. Young


These are the hallmarks of a good anagram and are from erudite postings on this subject by Richard Brodie, William Tunstall-Pedoe and Jean Fontaine.

(1) Meaningfulness. It must be more than a series of unconnected words in no particular order. It must "sound" like a meaningful phrase or a sentence, however condensed. Condensations that sound like newspaper headlines are quite acceptable. Simply reordering the words can make a difference.

(2) Aptness, relevance or reference to the original phrase. This may involve the use of synonyms, paraphrasing the original phrase, or a commentary or joke about the original. The more relevant the anagram is to the original phrase the better it will be regarded. It may even be the opposite in meaning. Examples may also include a question in the original phrase that is answered in the anagram.

(3) Explanation. A good anagram should be self-explanatory, self-sufficient; it should not need any extra explanation or comment. You may see an anagram followed by a comment in parentheses. The comment may be funny, but it's usually there to enhance the meaningfulness of an otherwise abstruse anagram or to enhance its aptness by stating a contrived link with the original phrase.

(4) Avoidance of incorrect or uncommon spellings. These detract from the quality of the anagram and make it seem contrived or the author seem semi-literate. Old-fashioned spellings (hath, doth, aye, nay, 'tis) are acceptable, as are shortened words like 'n' (for "and"), e'er, or ma'am.

(5) Avoidance of repetition of words in original phrase. Repeating a key word from the original in the subsequent anagram, detracts from the cleverness of the result. The repetition of "the" and other short non-keywords is quite OK, of course. Occasionally, the repetition is acceptable and is sometimes referred to as a parallelogram.

(6) Humour, be it rude, witty, sarcastic, or abusive, will always improve an anagram, especially the punchline contains a real surprise.

(7) Grammatical correctness is the one area where some of us are pedantic. Many a good anagram has failed because of poor grammar. Minor discrepancies may be overlooked if the anagram excels in all other areas. Long anagrams should have impeccable grammar, because the scope of having so many letters allows great flexibility in construction.

(8) Clever use of punctuation. The use of punctuation has its critics, the purists who disapprove of any punctuation at all. However, punctuation can change and improve an ordinary anagram into an Award winner, if cleverly done.

(9) Minimal use of interjections. Whilst the use of "oh", "eh", "hey", "ah", "ahem", "oy", "shhh", and so on can be a handy way of getting rid of those annoying left-over letters, many believe that the excessive use of this device will damage an anagram. The use of one interjection in an otherwise great anagram would not be penalised.

(10) Avoidance of contrived subject text. The best anagrams are those where the subject text is a familiar phrase or a real name. Using highly contrived subject text to create a clever anagram considerably weakens the result. Minor contrivances, such as adding the definite or indefinite article to the text, is a much less serious flaw.

(11) Well known subject text. The more famous the name of the person or thing being anagrammed, the better the result is likely to be.

(C) 1998-2001 Larry Brash.





Hello, peace, and a happy greeting to all! The name is James Young and I am a real recent newcomer in alt.anagrams. Some may recall a few of the anagrams that I have recently posted here. Even I must admit that they have been a tad poor or uninspired so I thought I could assist myself by clarifying some of the problems and pitfalls which I have encountered as a newcomer. Perhaps this will help other newcomers in the near future. Thank you for all your patience in this matter.

(1) Miscalculation. The letters in the anagram text don't even jive properly with those in subject text. Including uncanny and suspicious missing "x", "w" or "j" for example. This is certainly a most common error but it's really nothing to be ashamed of.

(2) Using words that haven't seen the light of day since Moses crossed the Red Sea. Usage of 'thee', and 'thou art' for example. Don't worry, no one doubts that Geoffrey Chaucer was a talented author, or that Icelandic sagas are a good read; however one has to maintain carefree prose of the current vernacular.

(3) Excessive repetition of a large phrase chunk in the subject text. Be sure to adhere to the principals stated in the excellent free guide: "Hallmarks of a Good Anagram", which reads that one must practice "avoidance of repetition of words in original phrase. Repeating a key word from the original in the subsequent anagram detracts from the cleverness of the result."

(4) Yoda-grammar. Who isn't inspired by that lovable green sage from Star Wars? But good grammar made is cannot by him at near imitating.

(5) Blatant number disposal. This gimmick can make it 19,982,001 times easier to get rid of numbers. The easy linear path, however, is not necessarily the most honorable one. This is a good rule of thumb. It would have cultivated a higher level of honor if one had written "nineteen million nine hundred eighty two thousand and one".

(6) URL gimmicks. For more information, just click on http://www.gets.rid.of.extra.q.q.q.com (plus it cleans up at least three w's). Makes sense if one cares to imitate spam messages, for example. But should hardly be considered very honorable or proper anagramming.

(7) Medicine gimmicks. Creation of "new" medicines in the anagram such as Excecenprergene or Gerrellacanene. This is definitely one of the more clever devices, but is as easy to see through as cellophane panties. It's better to stick to using more annoying common substances such as "valium" or "aspirin pills".

(8) Excessive monosyllable syndrome. Very bad error. Very crappy error. No good error.

(9) Suspicious "vowelled" exclamations. It should generally be recommended that the protagonist of one's anagram doesn't want to make a habit of screaming: "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgh!", or "yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

(10) Creation of fictitious names. Perhaps a phone book on the remote island of Jacarrarra contains a certain Sarah-Jill (Sally) Verra-Vaccarreal, but that alone is not sufficient justification for her inclusion in one's anagram.

(11) Using ALL of the above mentioned tricks at once. This is without question the lowest rung of the wordplay ladder. It's completely unacceptable and should be duly punished, preferably by the instant removal of the offender's genitalia with a million butter knives, ESPECIALLY if the anagram ends with a string of nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn's.

[2,709 letters]

This anagram won an Anagrammy in April 2001 (Special Category) and a Grand Anagrammy.

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