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The palindrome

The art of taking a word by both ends 

 

A palindrome is a word or a group of words that can be read both from left to right and right to left while conveying the same meaning. This language oddity has inspired many authors with formal games and exercises in style.   

 

"What if we built sentences backward?"

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Maybe you never took this offer from singer Alain Bashung seriously. Building sentences backward ? Just call the palindrome to help!

A palindrome is a word, a sentence or even a text that can be read both from left to right and right to left while conveying the same meaning. "Palindrome" comes from the Greek palindromos, "the one that runs backward".

So when you're from the city of "Callac" and you ride a "kayak" so fast that it seems to be on the same "level" as a "racecar", you're actually swimming in palindromes without even knowing it.

 

Georges Perec "Trace the unequal palindrome" 

The Sator square is admittedly the most well-known and widely-represented palindrome in western culture. Inside the square, the sentence "Sator arepo tenet opera rotas" can be read in every direction (vertical and horizontal) and could be translated as "The farmer Arepo has as works wheels a plough". This sentence with esoteric meaning still leaves the most persistent exegetes in awe.

In France, writer Georges Perec, a member of the Oulipo movement (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) is the author of "The Great Palindrome". The text has 1,247 words in French, but has sadly never been translated due to its complexity. Its opening sentence "Trace the unequal palindrome" and the closing sentence "your treachery will bite into neither the shore nor the space between" are an amazing palindrome in French

Do you want to try to make palindromes? Georges Perec surely would have answered: "Engage le jeu que je le gagne…" ("Start the game, for I will win it"), but Theodore Roosevelt may have challenged this virtuoso of formal games. Applying the art of palindrome to geopolitics, the 26th president of the United States laid for posterity this famous sentence: "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama." "