Counting and Other Word Fun

The poet Alastair Reid plays with words and their sounds in the book Ounce, Dice, Trice, with delightful support by the artist Ben Shahn. Reid repurposes words as counting words, as he says shepherds did when counting sheep over and over. Here he counts to ten: Ounce, Dice, Trice, Quartz, Quince, Sago, Serpent, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Denim.

Names of fingers from thumb to pinkie: Tim Sundry, Minnie Milton, Sober John, The Earl of Almond, and Little Dido Bone.

Light words: Ariel, Sibilant, Nimble, Lissom; heavy words: Duffle, Mugwump, Galoshes, Blob.

Group words—some of which are real and some are the poet’s contributions:
A Booing of buffaloes
An Exaltation of larks
A Smother of spiders
A Trembling of goldfish
A Blunder of boys
A Giggle of girls
A Consternation of mothers

Spelling sounds:
Tris-tras is scissors cutting paper
Kinclunk is a car going over a manhole cover
Harrowolloworrah is yawning

Names for whales: Blodge, Murdo, Chumley. For elephants: Wendell Tubb, Deuteronomy.

Wouldn’t it be fun to challenge children—or adults—to come up with their own ideas?

I hope after a look at this book you will be Ram tam gee pickagee (feeling good)!