Vwl tg t Ggl

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Lk hr .  Dn't knw f th st wll lst bynd td, thgh.

Intrstng tht sm wrds lk "vwl" r trnsprnt wtht thr vwls, whrs thrs lk "tg"* r mpssbl — _ gss mdl vwls r sr t fll n thn ntl r fnl.

*splld wth vwls ftr th ct.



  1. Bob H said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    "sr" gave me trouble, too.
    I noticed that you left in the initial vowel in "Intrstng", perhaps by accident. But in that case, I think the word would still be comprehensible without the initial vowel, "ntrstng", no doubt because there are so many consonants still in there.

  2. Randy Alexander said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 10:48 am

    o oue, o ooa ou e u oe!

  3. CLAUDIU said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 10:56 am

    Good 1st April joke! Like it!, Sorry, lk t!

  4. mgh said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    carved, supposedly, on a church pew:
    hard enough, and that's only missing one vowel, not all of them!

  5. Leonardo Boiko said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 11:15 am

    A Void, hard mode?

  6. Teresa Nielsen Hayden said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    Practice helps.

  7. Emily said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    This is giving me so many flashbacks to first year Arabic.

  8. N2 said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

    Medial vowels being easier to fill in reminds me of that "Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are…" thing.

  9. Zubon said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

    _ s wht _ dd thr.

  10. Caelevin said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    I suspect Slovak hackers. Historical privation has resulted in a thriving black market.

  11. Thomas Westgard said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

    This was on the page where I'm being asked to type in my username and password. I was pretty unsettled by that, especially since Google's email servers were just hacked a few months ago.

  12. Carl said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    Obviously this is all a joke, but I think the readability of no-vowel English can be improved considerably by putting dashes where the vowels go, so we can tell that outage is _t_g, not t_g or t_g_ or _t_g_.

  13. Ben Zimmer said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

    @Caelevin: Are you sure the hackers weren't from Wales or Bosnia?

  14. mitchell said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    it certainly isn't helped by the non-orthographic spelling of english – if you wrote say IPA, or at least something closer to a one-to-one correspondence like Arabic or Hebrew have and left the vowels out it would be a lot easier i think

    obviously the consonantal root system of arabic and hebrew lends to the intelligibility but yeah

  15. Lazar said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    In Semitic alphabets, they do have characters that are used to indicate the presence of a vowel (the "matres lectionis").

  16. Josh said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    In college, I used something similar as a note-taking technique. I would drop all vowels, except for initial vowel sequences (outage –> outg). Anytime I came across a new term or name, it would be spelled in full. In the first lesson, Schroedinger's Equation was Schroedinger's Eqtn. Thereafter it became Schrdngrs Eqtn. In a case like this, I might use an acronym like SE given its length and frequency. Any leftover ambiguity was usually resolved by context. It worked pretty well for me. I could write faster, and my reading speed wasn't significantly slowed, and even 10 years later, the notes are still understandable.

  17. Private Zydeco said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    Does a term exist which denotes this style of writing,
    in which, unlike a lipogram, not only are words contain-
    ing this or that specific vowel or vowels eschewed but
    elision of all vowels is the out-and-out prevalent rule?
    Or is this merely classifiable as a variety of shorthand?

    It took more effort and time to decipher "ntl" than "sr",
    as it were, n th bv. Bt tht m hav bn ttrbtbl t lw bld sgr lvl.

  18. Private Zydeco said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    umm, Potential Spoiler Warning to those still working out
    the enigma who don't wish any clues to be given to them,
    but, just so that there is SOME clarity regading this post…
    "tg" should be deciphered as "tag", right? Just checking…

  19. Simon Cauchi said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

    ntl vwls r cntrstd wth mdl nd fnl, whch rthr gvs th gm wy, mthnks.

  20. Barbara Partee said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

    @Private Zydeco – it's not a spoiler; I did realize that tg would probably be impossible to guess, and I put it below the cut: outage. I like Josh's college system where you keep initial vowels in. I should have spelled out "sr" below the cut too: 'easier'. For that one at least the context helps. I must confess there are some words in some of the comments I haven't figured out yet, including most of Randy's. I'll get some sleep and then try again.

  21. Joe Fineman said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    Such words, according to Professor Quine, have been ebiscerated.

  22. Andy said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

    >#Joe Fineman said,
    April 1, 2010 @ 11:01 pm
    Such words, according to Professor Quine, have been ebiscerated.

    The term I've heard more is that they have been disemvowled.


  23. Karen said,

    April 1, 2010 @ 11:58 pm

    Hey! Wales has all the vowels, plus W and (always) Y.

  24. Private Zydeco said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 9:34 am

    @Barbara Partee – Oh, yes, of course, hah! It were excess haste,
    and the inobservance of not at all catching the asterisk & note
    ensuing therefrom which should duly be called to the carpet. That
    is to say, being an otherwise unqualified linguaphile has ofttimes
    come at the price of tendency toward fervent but very one-track absorptions in word puzzles of all sorts. Erm, missed a shift, like.

    It is, by the way, not merely getting enough sleep but getting a fair
    number –say, seven or eight– hour-long naps for every twenty-four
    which is paramount; or so the polyphasic prerogative would have it.

    All else aside, to what taxonomic heading does this schema devolve,
    really? It is by all accounts a crytogram, no? Or does crytogrammic
    -ness necessitate dissimulation too much for it to be so, per ex-
    ecution – for humor/artistic purposes – in the foregoing instance?
    There is the Borgesian angle on individuation, each "thing" being
    nigh in its own category, but, for cladistics' sake, i.e. copping out…
    Sorry for any particularly egregious formatting blunders. All is dicey.

  25. Private Zydeco said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 9:46 am

    @Barbara Partee – Yes "easier" was one that posed little trouble,
    but, fatigue and other forms of depleted attention being as they
    are, the whole "vowel outage" joke wasn't so unfathomable as…
    well, missed.

    Also by the way; Language Log? Aces.

  26. Tom Vinson said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 10:18 am

    This is a lot like the way they used to post the lineups in ballparks back in the 1950s, before the days of electronic scoreboards. But initial vowels were left in place shorter last names were spelled out fully.

  27. anon said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    Somewhere in David Kahn's "The Codebreakers" there is a reference to a novel that was written without 'e', but I do not recall whether Kahn supplies a name for this type of writing.

  28. Private Zydeco said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    @Randy – That's "so confused…", but then, what?

  29. Private Zydeco said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 11:43 am

    @Randy – Or perhaps the previous is mistaken, but,
    if so, "consonants" is the only (other) word perceivable
    from here… sleep indeed; it may take a raw I.Q. uppage.

  30. Private Zydeco said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    "Something something, no consonants would be…
    gung hoe (sp?)?"

  31. MJ said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    @anon–the one I'm familiar with is by Georges Perec, but according to Wikipedia his was based on a 1939 novel by Ernest Vincent Wright called _Gadsby_. Wikipedia refers to the technique as "lipogram."

  32. Randy Alexander said,

    April 2, 2010 @ 9:45 pm


    ¡ǝsɹoʍ ɥɔnɯ ǝq pןnoʍ sʇuɐuosuoɔ 'ǝsɹnoɔ ɟo

  33. Randy Alexander said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 1:51 am

    There should be an upside-down "no" after (reading from right to left) the upside-down comma.

  34. Roger Depledge said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 5:00 am


  35. Chris said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    Makes me think of Thurber's _The Wonderful O_, which I still re-read on occasion.

    "Life is bring and blish. Even schling is flish. Animals in the z are less lacnic than we."

  36. Private Zydeco said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 6:32 am

    Disclaimer: note posted at 11:47 was (at least half) jokingly meant.
    It's bad enough to drowse through the stark-staring obvious, but…

  37. Private Zydeco said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 6:38 am

    @Randy – What script (and/or typeface) enables the umop apisdn
    text feature? (Hat tip to Q Pheevr, from whom parlor trick a. above
    was purloined, sans royalties, as he and livejournal — which is a somniloquent fawn — slumbered daddishly).

  38. Private Zydeco said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    @Roger – If the question concerns the technical correctness of mgh's rendering of the encoded maxim, it is the word"heed" substituting in
    it for the word "keep" in the other which is to be accounted for as the
    foremost disparity. As for "authenticity", let someone better versed in facts about famous benchcarvings than Rank Private Zydeco submit to -that- debate…

  39. Julie said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 11:52 pm

    Where's the version spelled with vowels? After the cut? I can't find it…

  40. Randy Alexander said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    @Private Zydeco: you can google for an upside-down text generator (html). Different ones have different quality results. I can't remember which one I used.

  41. Colin John said,

    April 6, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    There is also the book 'Ella Minnow Pea' by Mark Dunn which is a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary novel. Light, but great fun.

  42. Private Zydeco said,

    April 7, 2010 @ 1:53 pm


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