Word Ways

Article Title

The Soul of Logology



What is logology, otherwise known as recreational linguistics? There appear to be two ways to define it: subjectively, as an intellectual quest that stimulates and beguiles its devotees, and objectively, as a body of organized knowledge. The advent of the computer has sharpened this debate. Consider this example: in the old days, a fourteen-letter pair isogram (each letter appears exactly twice in the word) such as TAENIODONTIDAE could be found only by lengthy dictionary-searching, and its publication in Word Ways in August 1971 was a celebration of human persistence. However, since the publication of Levine's computer-generated pattern word lists, one can look this word up in a minute or so. Is, therefore, TAENIODONTIDAE still a word of high interest to the logologist? The answer is yes if recreational linguistics is a body of knowledge, but no if it is regarded as an intellectual quest.