Making the Most of the Moment by Meditating on Magazines

One thing I’m learning about doing readings is that I usually arrive at an almost empty room and have to stand around waiting for the throng to assemble. Fortunately I’m doing readings mostly in libraries and there are always books around to study while waiting.

Last week, however, I found myself studying the magazine rack – and being made aware again of the continuing allure of alliteration. I began making notes on the titles of articles featured on magazine covers and reported my findings to the small audience that eventually assembled. Consider the following titles:

Walk off Weight
Slimming Swimsuits
Fresh and Fabulous
Saturn’s Strange Satellite
Leaping Lemurs
Colorful Carrots
Picture Perfect Hydrangeas
Time Travel

There were others, but that gives you an idea. You will probably notice also that these titles were not in magazines designed for the specialist in early medieval literature. Clearly alliteration still plays a prominent part in the most ordinary lives – albeit unobserved or remarked.

I should note also that there were titles that alliterated visually but not aurally: Terrific Tomatoes, for example, and Mistakes, Mishaps, and Misadventures. They look like alliterated titles because of the initial letters, but the stressed syllables are not the first syllables in all cases so the words don’t alliterate for the ear. This raises the question of the role of visual alliteration and whether it is a pure product of a visual age. Specialists in the field can apply for grants to research this further.


klh231May 15th, 2006 at 12:32 pm

good to see you trying out the blog waters, seems like a natural for your meditations and musings.

Rick WheelerMay 15th, 2006 at 3:26 pm

The use of alliteration has without a doubt become more common in terms of advertising. For me, there is a wonderful bit of word play involved.
I was talking a group the other day about a lecture that I was asked to attend on early farmers in our town. Being a legitimate eleventh generation local farmer, I looked forward to the experience eagerly. Much to my horror, the focus of the lecture was on the depredations, desecrations, and despoilations of the natural world by my early ancestors. At that time I didn’t have the opportunity to offer Henry David Thoreau’s alternative solution to the accusations. It is worth repeating — If you don’t like what the farmer is doing, “…you can starve.”

As for magazine racks today, I am inclined to simply shake my head at most of them!



Leave a comment

Your comment