Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Letter E

Cait O'Connor wrote a lovely post this week on the letter "p". And
Elizabeth posted a great photo shot post on the letter "a". She then,
in turn, gave me the letter "e", which I found to be much more
challenging than the friendly "a" or perky little "p".
E is the fifth letter in the Latin alphabet. Its name in English is
spelled e (pronounced /iː/), plural ees (pronounced /iːz/)(rare).
The letter "e" is the most commonly used letter in the Czech, Danish,
Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Latin, Norwegian,
Spanish, and Swedish languages.
E is derived from the Greek letter epsilon which is much the same in
appearance (Ε, ε) and function. In etymology, the Semitic hê first
represented a praying or calling human figure, hillul jubilation,
based on a similar Egyptian hieroglyph that was pronounced and
used quite differently. In Semitic, the letter represented h and
e in foreign words, in Greek hê became Εψιλον (Epsilon) with the
value e. Etruscans and Romans followed this usage.
The letter "e" is the most common or highest frequency letter in the
English language. This makes it a difficult and popular letter to use
when writing lipograms. Ernest Vincent Wright's Gadsby, 1939, is
considered a dreadful novel, and that at least part of Wright's
narrative difficulties were caused by language restrictions imposed
by the lack of E. Both Georges Perec's novel A Void, La Disparition,
1969, and its English translation by Gilbert Adair omit the letter "e"
and are considered better works.
I guess you could say this this little "e" poem is the opposite of a

Enchanted by eidolon
engines, I easily escape
on the evening express,
embarking Europe,
an ebullient excursion.
Estonia and east to Essen,
Epernay, eating elysian
eggplant and escargot.
Emerita or eluding empress
in ecru ermine and earrings,
I execute excellent,
elegant erg.
Entirely in element,
educing this ethereal emprise.

Eyre, by willow

favorite e's:
edelweiss, Edna St. Vincent Millay, ebullient, equality, ewes, exits,
eyes, Elspeth, evening, England, ebony, elevators, elegies, east,
eleven, Empire State Building, El Decor, eggs, Eiffel Tower, eight,
Elizabeth I, epiphanies, escutcheons, ephemera, emeralds, envelopes

not so great e's:
exile, envy, eels, evil, empty, embarrass, enrage, ether, excuses,
exploitation, earwax

(If you would like a letter, just ask for one in the comments.)

photos from Flickr, info from Wikipedia


  1. Excellent Job! Eye raising factoids. Ever faithful to report something e-interesting!

  2. Interesting post. My favorite "e" is Erika, my lovely daughter. Thanks for the lesson on the letter "e".

  3. exile is a terrible "E"--nobody wants to be exiled, at least to my understanding of the concept. You should do the letter X next willow!

  4. Exquisitely executed my eloquent friend. Thanks for the interesting read.

  5. I don't want a letter - I am too challenged to pull it off. But earwax was a killer ending :)

  6. I'll try a letter although I fear it won't be nearly as well written or witty as yours. Wikipedia, and are always a great place to start though.

  7. Loved this post, did you mention musical note E (mi)? I would love to do the Ñ of my native language...

  8. Well done Willow - very clever and I loved your poem and your bracelets in the photo, I think. xv

  9. i wouldn't have thought a simple "e" could be so interesting. i'll take a letter, please. :-)

  10. My favorite 'e' is e. e. cummings:)

  11. Wow! (Catches breath whilst leaning against wall). That was a fun post. And a breath-taking one to top. Really good and thorough. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  12. Well, you may have found E a bit tricky . . . but your post was ENGAGING and EXCELLENT. I am working on M today . . . but now I have to go outside and play in the snow with my kiddies (who are off of school again today!).

  13. Fascinating post. It had me absorbed the whole way through. Could we have more please - doesn't matter which letters.

  14. So that's what a lipogram is!

    Clever poem, Eyre, btw! You are smart.

    Fave e's for me would include:
    Emotion, e-mail, event, emulate, esteem, equip, entrance, erotic, enchanting, enquire, and exquisite.

    Not so svaory e's for me might include (depending on their use):
    Enshrine, emote, engage, erroneous!

  15. You had "envy" twice - Freudian slip matey?

  16. Such erudition Willow! You are always a game girl for a challenge!

    And, another new header! I'm not sure that our snow is worse than yours, despite the chaos it is/has been creating.

  17. Fun and intersting post - great job you've on the challenge - Brava..!
    Love to visit your blog - have a nice day..:)

  18. Glad you are beginning to feel better - sod the dusting, as the great philosophers have said.

  19. head hurts now...what an 'e'xciting post and fun!

  20. Very engaging-- liked the letter history-- always a fun topic; & I wasn't aware of the lipogram word game. Loved the "E" poem-- will have to let Eberle know about this-- my favorite "E," & someone who loves the letter E herself.

  21. Good for you!
    Yes, I had heard about the E-less book -quite a challenge.
    Your little poem was a delight.
    Hooray for Elspeth.

  22. Entirely endearing.

    Enchanting even.

  23. This is such a cool post! Well done, Willow!

  24. Very interesting willow. Like the poem. Yes I would like you to give me a letter to work on - I think the research and the imagination needed would keep me going for a while.

  25. Fantastic. I am pro-e, and I vote.

    Love the new banner, but miss your glamorous face up there.

    Stay warm!

  26. Oh I LOVE reading stuff like this. It reminds me of the book "Primary Colors" by Alexander Theroux. I think you should write on all 26 and publish it, you've done this one so beautifully, Or if you manage to find people to do all 26, publish the whole list so everyone can learn all this fascinating arcana.

    If you go the second route, put me down for a letter, but I really think you do it so well, you should to the lot of them!


  27. I'll try a letter. This looks like fun.

  28. "Kids, the letter for today is: E."

    This took me back to grade school, in a good way. :) Dare you to do X-Y.

    Have a good day!


  29. Oh E is a cool letter .. I got R from Mielikki .. gotta get to it ..

  30. Willow, There is a segment in the "Gilmore Girls" series where the characters omit the letter 'e'-I wondered where that idea came from. I loved your 'ebullient excursion' and 'opposite of a lipogram' word play...also the sound of the word´'edelweiss' (-v-sound version.) Enchanting...that´s my e word...and your post, too.

  31. Wonderful! I am taking the letter "F" with me to Spain next week ;-)

  32. Brilliant Willow! And 'earwax' at the end - perfect!

    I'll stick my neck out and ask for a letter ... It may be a few days before I can do it justice, because of our gleeful commitments over the next few days, however - yes please!

  33. These are the "E"s that make this post Exquisite:
    Exemplary knowledge;
    Erudite blogger;
    Eclectic Willow;
    Elusive vanity;
    Exceptional talent;
    Estimable writing;
    Eternal curiosity;
    I now Eagerly Employ the Egress...

  34. I can't believe your tribute to the letter E, Willow. It was excellent.

    That word just came to mind. It was effortless on my part.

    Oh, there I go again.

  35. Suza, you are amazing! You have GOT to start your own blog! :^)

  36. The names Elijah, Elizabeth and Evans are all high on my list.

  37. extraordinaire! letter me, please?

  38. Wonderful, Willow!! "E" is also for my son, Eric. Elegant Elegy, m'dear!!

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  40. That was terrific! I know that's a "t" word, but t'was so....

    I want to give this a try --this weekend hopefully. Can you *E-mail* me a letter please?


  41. ヨ is a Japanese letter pronounced 'yo.'

  42. excellent execution! enjoyable eye-candy! epitome of exercises! epidemic??

    loved it, willow!

  43. If it would so please you, I would like a letter. Please surprise me: I'm sure whatever letter you choose will be an interesting exercise.

  44. Excellent, entertaining, erudite. Enjoyed!!

  45. The new Willow Manor header is beautiful, but I really enjoyed your peek-a-boo eyes. They were eye-opening and electric.

    Wow, I never knew there could be so much about just one letter.

    So yes, I think I would like to endeavor to explore a letter, although I am not sure I could even do justice to the letter, but think I could do something.

    Do we need to give you our e-mail address to do this?

  46. Great evidence of the everlasting effort you put into each post!

    I think I would like the challenge of a letter please.


  47. You assigned me a letter, and in return I'm tagging you to write the next "25 Random things about Me" post!

    Here was my attempt:

    It started on Open Salon, migrated to facebook and now is at Willow Manor!

  48. Denese, I'll work on it this weekend. 25 is a lot of randomness! ;^)

  49. Good job on giving the letter E the props it deserves. I love having the middle inital E. I'm up for the challenge!

  50. This reminds me a little of the Alphabetica project I've been doing on my blog. Don't you just adore letters?

  51. An ostensibly unpromising theme, triumphantly managed!

  52. Thanks for doing the 'E'. I learned a lot and I loved your poem.

  53. This was fun... I know it has been a week, but I wouldn't mind trying my hand at a letter! That is if you have any left. You still have one of my favorite blogs to catch up on when I am behind!

  54. It just so happens, I do have some letters left! I'll pop on over to your place and pass one along to you...


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)