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11/11/11 PDF
Friday, 11 November 2011 11:11

Today is 11/11/11, known in the trade as a palindromic date in that it reads the same forwards and backwards. Another one is coming up next year, 12/12/12. Alphabetic palindromes are also very common. Famous ones include “Madam, I’m Adam.” and "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama".

Palindromes are a lot of fun. A number of English first names are palindromes, eg  Ada, Anna, Bob, Eve, Hannah and Otto. Some parents have given their children palindromic names, (such as philologist Revilo P. Oliver and Korean-American Mike Kim) and one actor, Robert Trebor, changed his name deliberately.

In English, two palindromic novels have been published: Satire: Veritas by David Stephens (1980, 58,795 letters), and Dr Awkward & Olson in Oslo by Lawrence Levine (1986, 31,954 words).

Palindromes date back at least to 79 AD, as the palindromic Latin word square "Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas" (The sower, Arepo, holds works wheels) was found as a graffito at Herculaneum, buried by ash in that year.

In English, common single palindromic words are civic, radar, level, rotor, kayak, reviver, racecar, redder, madam, toot, boob, pop and noon.

Palindromes often consist of a phrase or sentence, eg: "Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?", "Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.", "Was it a rat I saw?", "A nut for a jar of tuna", "Ma is as selfless as I am", "Dammit, I'm mad!", and "A Santa lived as a devil at NASA".

Other well-known English palindromes are "Able was I ere I saw Elba", "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama", "Madam, I'm Adam" or "Madam in Eden, I'm Adam", "Doc, note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod." and "Never odd or even."

The Grateful Dead's 1969 album Aoxomoxoa is a notable early use of palindrome in the title of a popular music album. But they were outdone in 1975, when the Swedish pop group ABBA had a hit single titled "SOS", a unique occasion in which a song's title and the name of its recording artist were both palindromes.

Back to today’s date, 11 November 2011. This date is an important one in the Allied calendar, being the date of the Armistice or Remembrance Day. At 11 o’clock there is always a minute’s silence in memory of the fallen.

In Germany, the official Carnival Season, or the Fifth Season, begins at 11 minutes past 11 on the 11 November. So this year is particularly poignant: 11:11, 11/11/11.

Business and commerce are exploiting today’s date big-style. In Chicago McDonald’s fries are half-price and Darren Lynn Bousman, the film director, is releasing a film entitled 11-11-11. Guess when!!

For other articles on 11-11-11, please click below:

11.11 on 11/11/11: are you going to mark the palindromic moment in time? - Hannah Waldram and Laura Oliver, the Guardian

11:11:11 on 11/11/11 – happy palindrome o'clock - Tom Meltzer, the Guardian

Why am I so excited about 11/11/11? - Hadley Freeman, the Guardian

McDonald's commandeers 11/11/11 as 'Fryday' - Kate MacArthur, Chicago Tribune

11-11-11 - Wikipedia on Darren Lynn Bousman’s film 11-11-11

Tiffany Masters plans world’s largest 11/11/11 wedding reception at Tropicana - Robin Leach, Las Vegas Sun


© Paul Whitelock

Tags: 111111, 11/11/11, 11-11-11, palindrome, palindromic date, Madam I’m Adam, A man a plan a canal Panama, Revilo P Oliver, Robert Trebor, Satire: Veritas, Dr Awkward & Olson in Oslo, palindromic novel, Aoxomoxoa, Grateful Dead, Abba, SOS, Remembrance Day, Armisitice,  paul whitelock, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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