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Feb 10 2013

Code Blue Limerick Emergency Alert!

Ok, people, this one is serious. Spread the word to anyone you suspect might help, or anyone you suspect knows people who might help.

One of the cooler projects in the history of humankind is the OEDILF—the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. I first wrote about them here. Their goal is

to write at least one limerick for each meaning of each and every word in the English language. Our best limericks will clearly define their words in a humorous or interesting way, although some may provide more entertainment than definition, or vice versa.

Seriously. Think about that. Every word in the English language. Suddenly I don’t look nearly so obsessive, do I? And, to top it off, they are doing this in alphabetical order. They won’t get to “Nantucket” until maybe 2020. And these are limericists! There are contributors with thousands of limericks to their credit—one author with over ten thousand submitted!

Anyway… I just got an email: for whatever reasons, their limericists are slacking off. (Full disclosure: I’m at least partial author on… wait, really? … on over 100 limericks. I honestly thought it was at least a score fewer. I stopped in 2009 or so because I started this blog instead. So, yeah, I am one of the slackers.) They are currently well below their historic levels of limericks.

You can help. If you read my blog, you are a rare creature. And you are likely to hang around with other rare creatures. So please… spread the word.

Join the OEDILF movement. Start writing limericks. Tell your friends. Especially the ones who have fun with limericks.

I mentioned above, the OEDILF team are moving through the dictionary in alphabetical order; they don’t open up a new set of letters until they have completed a certain percentage of the previous words. Thing is, a substantial number of the uncompleted words happen to be highly specialized—scientific or philosophical terms. You know—the stuff my readers eat for breakfast.

So you are the perfect solution.

You can save the OEDILF.

And you should. It’s worth saving. It is the very definition of a quixotic crusade (they may not get to “quixotic” in my lifetime; that should tell us something).

Ok, a bit of backstory. A good many of my early proposed limericks… were terrible. The people at OEDILF are the best of the best. Their limericks are not forced. Their rhymes are not “close enough”. They have a workshop process that winnows out bad limericks, and improves good ones. Like I said, these people are the best.

When I started submitting limericks at the OEDILF, I arrogantly assumed my verses were good enough. No. My limericks included some forced rhymes, and some metric no-no’s. They’d have been fine for Carl Kassel to read on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’s “listener limerick challenge”, but those tend to be really clunky limericks serving a different purpose.

So anyway, don’t do what I did, and just assume that the workshopping process will fix your limericks. Take the time to polish your work before submitting it, and take pride in being part of a really cool global act of obsession.

And hey, it’s fun!

5 comments

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  1. 1
    carpenterman

    Oh, I am in. SO in.

  2. 2
    Crudely Wrott

    The notion at first seems quite spurious
    But reflection makes me grow more curious
    Rhyming word upon word
    For each word that is heard
    Just might make some students more studious

    ;^>

  3. 3
    Argle Bargle

    I arrogantly assumed my verses were good enough.

    When did this change?

  4. 4
    zoboz

    How do they treat syncopation
    For extra-long configurations?
    Forget them or hide them?
    Speak fast and elide them?
    Overindividualization!

  5. 5
    Cuttlefish

    Zoboz– Just for fun, go to the OEDILF and search the dictionary for antidisestablishmentarianism. They have a few, and (if memory serves) one is simply superb–defines it and presents the word naturally. It’s a masterpiece.

    Rodney– Ha. For backstory… I have never lost a limerick contest that I have entered. Sometimes, just for fun, I have taken first, second, and third place. Thus, my arrogance. What I conveniently forgot were all the limerick contests I didn’t enter, because I didn’t immediately think of a good limerick. If I have to really think about it, I generally wouldn’t enter. So I had a very non-representative sample. In the OEDILF, all the good words go quickly, and the real work begins with words that take thought and effort (not my strong points).

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