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The iPhone and the Googlewhackblatt

As much as I want an iPhone, it’s hard to justify the cost when I pay roughly the same per year to Virgin Mobile as the low-end iPhone plan costs per month. In commenting on this fact in a private mailing list posting, I realized that I had no idea what the word for “twelve times” is. Two times is double, three times is triple, four times is quadruple, but what’s twelve times?

A bit of research on Wikipedia turned up the entry for “tuple” (a finite sequence of objects) with names for tuples of specific lengths, but alas, it didn’t include twelve. So I looked up “twelve” in Wikipedia, and discovered that a group of twelve things is a “duodecad.” Jamming the two words together, I came up with “duodecaduple,” which looks funny but turns out to be absolutely wonderful to say: duo-deca-duple. Try it a few times. Bonus points to anyone who can work it into a conversation.

Curious to see if I had gotten it right, I did a Google search, and was shocked and amazed to discover that my word appeared only once in the entire Google index, in a comment on a Slashdot story that, interestingly enough, was about some research performed at Cornell University here in Ithaca. I include the image below as documentation that there were no other instances of duodecaduple when I wrote this.

For those who missed it, there’s a game to find pairs of words that appear only once in Google, and such a finding is called a “Googlewhack.” But Googlewhacks must contain two words, and mine was only a single word. While reading the Wikipedia entry for Googlewhack, I learned that a single-word Googlewhack is called a “Googlewhackblatt.”

There’s a problem with Googlewhackblatts, as I’m sure you’ve just realized. Publishing the existence of one destroys it as soon as Google crawls your site, since it then exists in at least two places. I agonized about this, since I wanted to preserve my Googlewhackblatt, but I’ll bet that there are Googlewhackblatt vandals out there who delight in ruining Googlewhackblatts, even when they’ve been protected by writing them backward and viewing through elgooG (a site that mirrors Google not by replicating it, but by reflecting it). Amusingly, if you type “Engst” and press Return to activate the “ykcuL gnileeF m’I” button, elgooG promptly displays the search results for Tsgne .C Mada, my 1997
April Fools issue alter-ego.

In the end, I decided that a Googlewhackblatt has meaning only in disappearing, that it doesn’t truly exist until it’s shared, even though the act of sharing will almost certainly result in its destruction. Thus, the joy in the Googlewhackblatt is like blowing a dandelion’s seeds. Fly free, little duodecaduple!

Of course, as you can see in the screenshot, Google helpfully suggests that perhaps the word I want is actually “dodecatuple,” which appears several thousand times in the Google index. Dodecatuple uses the same stem that gives us “dodecagon” (a polygon with twelve sides and twelve angles) and “dodecahedron” (a polyhedron with twelve faces). But some further poking reveals that “duodecagon” and “duodecahedron” are also perfectly reasonable, if older, variants of those words.

So I’m sticking with my version, and if you ask me at Macworld Expo why I still don’t have an iPhone, it’s because I’d duodecaduple my yearly cell bill.

[Update: Thanks to Christopher Squire for alerting me to the existence of “duodecuple,” which is the canonical word for “twelvefold.” However, in my defense, duodecaduple is far more fun to say; the tongue stumbles over duodecuple. -Adam]

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