Appendix 3




English syntax, grammar, or meaning transposed in another language resulting in incorrect language use or incorrect translation.



In Oulipian usage antonymy means the replacement of a designated element by its opposite. It has been applied on three levels:

  1. Letters. Consonants are replaced by vowels, vowels by consonants
  2. Words: each is replaced by its opposite, when on exists (black/white), or by an alternative suggesting antonymy (a/the, and/or, glass/wood).
  3. Statements: the overall sense is turned into its opposite

(Mathews and Brotchie 2005, 50)



Streching a line or sentency by adding words.


Graeco-Latin bi-square

The simplest way to explain what a 10x10 Graeco-Latin bi-square I, and the fictional uses to which it can be put, is to start with a 3x3 Graeco-Latin bi-square. Imagine a story 3 chapters long involving 3 characters named Jones, Smith, and Wolkowski. Supply the 3 individuals with 2 sets of attributes: first, headgear — a cap (C), a bowler hat (H), and a beret (B); second, something hand-held — a dog (D), a suitcase (S), and a bouquet of roses (R). Assume the problem to be that of telling a story in which these 6 items will be ascribed to the 3 characters in turn without their ever having the same 2. The following formula:

  Jones Smith Wolkowski
Chapter 1 CS BR HD
Chapter 2 BD HS CR
Chapter 3 HR CD BS


 — which is nothing more than a very simple 3x3 Graeco-Latin bi-square — provides the solution. In the first chapter, Jones has a cap and a suitcase, Smith a beret and a bouquet of roses, Wolkowski a bowler hat and a dog. In the second, Jones has a beret and a dog, Smith a bowler hat and a suitcase, Wolkowski a cap and a bouquet of roses. In the third, Jones has a bowler hat and a bouquet, Smith with his cap will be walking a dog, and Wolkowski, wearing a beret, will be lugging a suitcase. All that remains to be done is to invent situations to justify these successive transformations.

(Ibid., 176)



Warren Motte has used the convenient term larding as an equivalent of le tireur à la ligne, the name given by Jacques Duchateau to a procedure that is his speciality. ‘Line strecthing’ refers to the 19th century practice of paying magazine contributors (such as Alexandre Dumas) by the line — a practice that encouraged them to stretch their material to maximum length. Duchateau describes the method in Atlas: from a given text, pick two sentences. Add a new sentence between the first two; then two sentences in the new intervals have become available; and continue to add sentences until the passage has attained length desired. The supplementary sentences must either enrich the existing narrative or create a new narrative continuity.

(Ibid., 167)



A text that excludes one or more letters of the alphabet. The ingenuity demanded by the restrictions clearly varies in proportion to the frequency of the letter or letters excluded.

(Ibid., 178)



Written in rabbinical or preaching style.



A method invented by Jean Lescure that ‘consists’ “in replacing each noun (N) with the seventh following it in a dictionary.” Before beginning the operation, it is obviously necessary to choose a text and a dictionary. Nouns in the text are then identified, and each is replaced by counting seven nouns beyond it in the specified dictionary.

(Ibid., 202)



An onomatopoeia is a word that phonetically imitates, resembles or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Onomatopoeia  refers to the property of such words.


Raymond Roussel’s methods

In his final work, a poem in 4 cantos called New Impressions of Africa […] the primary text of each canto is a fairly straightforward description of a site in Egypt. The description has scarcely begun when a parenthesis opens, introducing a digression, and soon a second parenthesis interrupts the first digression, then a third parenthesis opens, and a fourth, and a fifth — and into the fifth digression footnotes soon intrude, with their internal parentheses… as the canto approaches its end, the parentheses are closed in succession, each closure plunging the non-omniscient reader into stupefaction.

(Ibid., 223)


Regular or decaf

Text written in simple question format.



This procedure was first used by Harry Mathews before his introduction to Oulipo […] Two texts are chosen, of similar length but differing in genre. Each text is rewritten with the vocabulary of the other.

(Ibid., 239)


See more: Mathews, Harry and Alastair Brotchie (eds). 2005. Oulipo Compendium. London: Atlas press.