A Phone Game

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I came up with this linguistic game while working at a video game studio. It plays with linguistic phones — basic sounds in a language — not telephones. It's a wonderful diversion that stretches your creativity.


Take a word, a pair of words, or, for more fun, someone's name, and break it into its basic sounds (its phones). For example, the English word "solid" becomes, in my Los Angeles-style English dialect, five sounds: /sɑlɪd/ (as spelled in the International Phonetic Alphabet). Now build the longest grammatically correct sentence in the same language that repeats that string of sounds. The longer, the better, but don't repeat yourself too much. Occasionally changing a sound to something similar but different is OK — for example, I might change /s/ to /z/ occasionally if it helps me build a longer and funnier sentence.

If you do this correctly, someone reading your sentence quickly in the intended dialect will sound like they're reading the same word or short phrase over and over again, though perhaps with different intonation and stress (as required by the language).

Here's an example for "solid" in my dialect:

Solid Saw Lid's saw lids saw Lid Saw Lid's solid saw lid saw Lid's awl lid.

When read quickly, this sentence sounds like "solid" repeated 9 times. It's silly — saw lids can't see or saw — but it is grammatically correct. It also maintains a carpentry theme (saws, awls, lids, and sawing), so bonus points there.

These aren't hard-and-fast rules: Feel free to bend them if doing so produces better results. For example, I sometimes compose conversations or passages when a single long sentence sounds too awkward. Aim for cleverness and creativity. Also think about how you lay the words out on paper: Perhaps you can arrange or stack them differently.


Chicken Chick in Chick, IN: "Chick in Chicken chicken? Chicken Chicken chick!" (in "Chicken Chick in Chicken")
Tax tacks tax Tack Stack's taxed ax.
Tack's taxed ax tacks taxed tax tack stacks.
Star Buck's tar bucks Starbucks's star buck's Starbucks tar bucks.