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Why would you write books or poems or plays with only one vowel? Or in palindromes? Or only using the example sentences in dictionaries? Sometimes you need to force yourself to jump a few hurdles (and perhaps the rest of the obstacle course) before your creativity will be unleashed.
- Other Allusionist episodes about how dictionaries work are The Authority and Word of the Day.
- Dictionaries draw their example sentences from a corpus - here's how the Macmillan Dictionary's corpus works...
- ...and more about corpuses from Oxford Dictionaries lexicographer Ben Zimmer.
- Hear the writer Joe Dunthorne try to infiltrate the Oulipo on an episode of Short Cuts.
- Oulipo member Anne Garréta's novel Sphinx omits gender.
- Daniel Levin Becker's Many Subtle Channels is about the Oulipo and him becoming the second ever American member.
- Other tricky literary movements.
- At university, I acted in the Caryl Churchill play Blue Kettle, in which gradually all the words were replaced by 'blue' and 'kettle'. It was moderately fun to be in and I wonder whether it was at all fun to watch.
- The transcript of this episode is at theallusionist.org/transcripts/trammels.
Would you be a pal and have a bash at the annual audience survey at surveynerds.com/allusionist?
YOUR RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Jez Burrows is the author of Dictionary Stories, which is out now. Find his varied other projects at jezburrows.com.
- Ross Sutherland makes the podcast Imaginary Advice (you heard the S.E.I.N.F.E.L.D. episode on the feed here a few weeks ago), and he's touring this autumn. Find his writing and videos at rosssutherland.co.uk.
- This episode was produced by me and Martin Austwick, who also composes all the music for the show. You can hear his songs under the name Pale Bird.
- Find me on the socials: facebook.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/allusionistshow, twitter.com/helenzaltzman and instagram.com/helenzaltzman.