Ten things you never knew about... vowels
The Canadian poet Christian Bok has written a novel, Eunoia, in which each of its five chapters uses only one of the five vowels, A, E, I, O U.
He is cautious about Y, which may be either vowel or consonant. Chapter O of Bok’s book is dedicated to Yoko Ono, whose Y is definitely consonantal.
Eunoia, according to Bok, means ‘beautiful thinking’ and is the shortest word in English including all five vowels – but it’s not in the Oxford Dictionary.
Euoi is also not in the OED, but is allowed in Scrabble. It means ‘a Bacchanalian cry of joy’.
Goran Ivanisevic is the only Wimbledon champion whose full name alternates vowels and consonants.
All the consonants, from Bee to Zed, have words for the letter. None of the vowels has such words.
Abstemious and facetious are the two most common words with all five vowels in the right order.
Less common words with that property include abstentious (self-restraining), caesious (bluish grey), and tragedious (tragic).
A vowel is “a voiced breath modified by a definite configuration of the super-glottal passages, without audible friction” (Sweet, Primer of Phonetics, 1890).
The common word with most consecutive vowels is ‘queueing’, with five in a row…
…though some dictionaries list ‘euouae’ as meaning a tone sequence in medieval church music.