22022022 – Palindrome Twosday

Have you noticed anything unusual about today’s date? True, it has lots of 2s and it being Tuesday /ˈtjuːzdeɪ/, we could make a really funny word play to give us TWOSDAY /ˈtuːzdeɪ/.

But there’s something else: read it backwards and you’ll see that it is exactly the same; in other words, it’s a PALINDROME /ˈpalɪndrəʊm/.

Palindromes are words that read the same left to right and right to left. Examples in English are:

WOW /waʊ/
CIVIC /ˈsɪvɪk/
LEVEL /ˈlɛv(ə)l/
NOON /nuːn/
RADAR /ˈreɪdɑː/
SOLOS /ˈsəʊləʊz/
REFER /rɪfəː/
TENET /ˈtɛnɪt/
KAYAK /ˈkʌɪak/

It’s also possible for an entire sentence to be a palindrome:

“Never odd or even.” /nɛvər ɒd ɔːr iːv(ə)n/

“Was it a car or a cat I saw?” /wəz ɪt ə kɑːr ɔːr ə kat ʌɪ sɔː/

Palindromic IPA

You’ll notice that of all of the palindromes above, only one: NOON /nuːn/, is a palindrome in IPA.

As the same vowel spelling can have many different pronunciations, all of the two syllable words above contain two different vowel sounds and are not palindromic.

For the same reason, it is possible to have a palindrome in IPA that isn’t a palindrome in written English (we could only think of one, but there are probably more):