what's in a word

(1 comment)
November 22, 2003
Heh...I must be getting Popular Science effect...327 unique IP for a noticeably lackluster day? Dang, I wish I was posting better stuff lately, I'd have a better chance of getting some regular readers.

Word Geekery of the Moment
A while back Ranjit got to thinking about word chains where you add a letter anywhere in the word and still have a real word, like "i in sin sing swing sewing" (which is actually intended as a poem by Ranjit , at least without that final "sewing" which tends to negate the devilish vibe.)
The longest chain he found was 11:
i 
 pi 
  pig 
   ping 
    oping 
     coping 
      comping 
       compting 
        competing 
         completing 
          complecting
He found it was much easier to look at large words that subtract down rather than starting with one letter words and adding letters. He ended up with lightning-bolt looking "trees" of the various possible reductions. Here's a nice one, that again is almost a poem:
shaft
  haft
    aft
      at
        a
    hat
      at
        a
      ha
        a
  shat
    hat
      at
        a
      ha
        a
    sat
      at
        a

He created a web-based tool to help in the search. You can type in a word and find the reduction tree it makes. I think he kind of lost interest before adding some polish that he was thinking of, but it works, and is kind of interesting for the word geek in all of us.

Article of the Moment
Article about some eyebrow raising comments by General Tommy Franks saying that a major WMD attack on the USA might lead to discarding the Constitution in lieu of some militaristic form of government.