(Add your suggestions in comments!)
So one of the words hitting big around social media is “Romnesia”, referring to presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s forgetting of his position because it’s changed so many times.
Part of the delight in this word is that it’s a fun mishmashing of “Romney” and “amnesia”. If you enter “Romney” into a rhyming dictionary (e.g., RhymeZone), all you’re going to get is “omni” and that’s not very satisfying. How could we identify other candidates? That’s what this post is about.
Here, the CMU Pronunciation Dictionary is going to be very helpful. The current version has 133,315 entries (including “Romney” and many other proper names, btw; and a lot of obscure words, too). Each word is given as it is normally spelled and how it’s pronounced (here’s the guide to the various characters).
“Romney” is translated into “R AA1 M N IY0”. The zero means that there’s no stress on the second syllable, the 1 means that it’s the “aa” vowel in the first syllable that’s stressed. If there were a 2 in this word, it’d mean it had secondary stress.
So the first place to look for candidates is searching for “R AA1 M” words. That turns up 147 possibilities. My personal favorites:
- Drama–>Dramney (or dromney…works better in speech than writing)
- Dromedary–>Dromneydary (I want this to work for the visual)
- Prominently–>Promneynently (uh, okay, no)
147 isn’t really that long of a list, but you can imagine putting in restrictions based on which syllable the word is and whether there’s some initial consonant cluster (for example, none of the tr’s and str’s work; sometimes non-initial stress works, but not when there’s too much stuff following Andromeda doesn’t really turn into Andromneyda).
We can also look at other consonants that are like “r” or “m”. R and L are both “liquids” while M and N are both nasals. So they are good possibilities. If we search for “r aa1 n”, there are 254 possibilities. But these don’t seem to work (Chronicle–>Chromnicle??). There are 62 possibilities for “l aa1 m”.
- Agglomerate–>Aggromneyrate? (Agglomeromney seems like a better variant)
- Conglomerate–>Conglomneyrate/Congromneyrate/Congromerateney? (Conglomeromney)
- Llama–>LLamney (Okay, this doesn’t work at all, but I really want it to)
I’m going to skip the 150 “l aa1 n”‘s.
Now, what “Romnesia” actually does is:
- Take a word that has stress on the “IY” syllable (amNEsia), even though that isn’t where the stress is on ROMney
- It also has the nice m-n sequence.
- It also starts with a vowel, which makes it particularly hospitable for a swap out.
So let’s look at other words that have “m n iy1” form–actually, it’s just amnesia and amnesiac. Okay, let’s loosen up to “n iy1”, there are 541 of those.
- Aeneid–>Romneid (his heroic journey, for the literary)
- Cantonese–>Cantoromnese (maaaaybe)
- El Niño–>El Romniño
Update: My friend, Rick, came up with:
Earlier, I had been looking for “m n iy1”, that is, stuff like “amnesia”, but this of course is another possibility, go for “aa1 m n iy”, where the “mn” pair is preceded by the main stress in “Romney” and then followed by an unstressed “iy”. The only words in the CMU pronunciation dictionary with this form are insomnia, insomniac, omni, Romney, and Romney’s. But this also suggests that the “iy” vowel may not be so important: