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Tuesday 11 May 2021

The pleasure of the senses A dictionary that begins with baba

A dictionary that begins with baba

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The Zanichelli publishing house published an interesting volume many years ago (1988): Pushups, rhymes, anagrams. The Italian in a kit. A female quartet led by Daniela Ratti produced a tool kit that could be useful for those who, in one way or another, found themselves working with the Italian language. The volume consisted of the three modules indicated by the title. The module "inflections", which also included alphabetically the inflected forms deriving from the mother voices (verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.), was followed by the "rhymes" module. It was not, in truth, a rhyming (rhyme, you know, is another thing), but a simple "reverse" listing in which the items were displayed with the alphabetical order applied from the last letter to the initial ones . The "dictionary", thus, instead of 'zuzzerellone', ended with 'gin fizz', instead of starting with 'abacà', it began with 'babà' ... In the following the same publishing house has printed something similar: lo ZANICHELLI reverse. The words of Italian in alphabetical order from right to left (Bologna, 2004).

The third collection was that of anagrams; also for this reason all the inflected forms of the first module were taken as a basis and all the anagrams (172.662) obtained from them were listed. The method used (the automatic procedures of the lexical data were mainly handled by Lucia Marconi, Giovanna Morgari and Claudia Rolando) was the one that a Sicilian enigmist with an eclectic genius had already devised many years before: Enzo Cavallaro (mathematician, astronomer, damist, chess player, as well as philatelic and numismatic expert) divided his repertoire into chapters, according to the number of letters and ordered the anagrams according to a concise representation of the relative graphemes. The noun 'helicopter', for example, was indicated with the alphanumeric notation C.1 E2 I1 L1 O2 R1 T2 (one C, 2 E, one I, two O etc.) which naturally came to coincide with that relating to 'beetles' and also to 'beetles'. In any case, Zanichelli's volume already contained the novelty of its extension to the inflected forms, being able to find also correspondences such as: 'diminuí' / 'inumidí', 'memoria' / 'row', 'centrerò' / 'current', 'faboleggiaste' / 'sulfeggiavate' etc.

Today Zanichelli has the digital version of the dictionary Gypsies, in which the possibility of finding the anagram of a word is easily resolved and is naturally extended to its inflected and conjugated forms.

Regarding anagrams, the main interest remains that of being able to find a result even for a set of several words or a sentence. This is now possible with the aid of computers capable of permutations of a high number of letters, excluding those including non-existent words; the result, however, requires the intervention of man to verify if there is any complete meaning in the various emerging sequences. If, for example, when using a special program, the input 'tiger of Malaysia' is given, thousands of combinations come out, all composed of words of complete meaning, but with no or poor sense of the whole: 'say twins salata ',' ramped rendered blackbirds', 'flood medium stems' etc. Patient research, however, may lead to the valid phrase the star of the Magi.

* The puzzles published last time were explained with: the coin, the sexton, the wheat.

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