January 22, 2010

The World's Longest Palindrome

Somebody told me today that Malayalam -- the official language of Kerala, India, and a language spoken by 35 million people world-wide -- is the world's longest palindrome.

It isn't quite; it's one of a few that are the same length in English, and a Finnish word for soapstone dealer is officially the longest.

But never mind. Malayalam is spoken by over 773,000 people in the UAE, a country of only 5 million residents.

And I'm thinking about this because I learned the Malayalam word for saunf, a Hindi and Urdu word for fennel . In Malayalam it is called peruncheeragam. In Tamil it is shombu.

In English, it's called: sugar-coated-fennel-seeds-they-give-you-after-dinner-at-an-Indian-restaurant-that-taste-like-Good-n-Plenty.

This is all part of my quest to have some of the delicacies of Indian food in my home so I don't have to wait to go out to eat. I learned all these words so that I can go to the grocery store and, if I can't find what I want, I now know three different words in four languages that someone at the supermarket might understand.



Dumdad said...

Malayalam might be the world's longest SINGLE word palindrome but there are much longer palindromes than that. For example:

Doc note: I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.

A favourite of mine is:

A man, a plan, a canal - panama!

Leah Oberjuerge said...

Yes, I meant to say that. Thank you Dumdad! The world's longest SINGLE word palindrome.

And my favorite is Able were I, ere I saw Elba.