Sunday, October 10, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 10, 2010): Rhyme Time

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 10, 2010): Rhyme Time:
Q: What are the two longest rhyming words that have no letters in common? For example, 'pie' and 'guy' rhyme and do not share any letters. The answer words cannot start with an unaccented syllable, such as 'today.' The source for acceptable words is Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary.
Hooray! This time the puzzle isn't one that can easily be solved via computer. In fact, depending on your definition of "rhyming" there may be several answers coming Will's way. Let's discuss, but don't give away an answer before the deadline.

69 comments:

  1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here. Thank you.

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  2. I came up with a 5 letter and a 4 letter rhyming pair but that's pretty weak. Does Will's statement mean that the rhyming words have more than one syllable?

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  3. I don’t know how much time I’m going to devote to this week’s puzzle – it’s one of those where you never know if you’re finished or not :( Anyway, I’ve thought of a 5 – 8 pair that works.

    Phredp – I wouldn’t worry about a multi-syllable requirement. After all, Will’s examples were “pie” and “guy.”

    Chuck

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  4. Chuck, I wonder if your 5-8 pair beats my 7-6 pair?

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  5. I've got a 2-syllable pair (4 and 8) that I'm pretty sure is the one that's being looked for. I've got three other pairs, but two depend on a (common) proper name, and the last (5-3) doesn't pass muster with Merriam-Webster.

    If you want to check your own answers against the source dictionary you might find this URL handy:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/

    Oh, did I mention I used a computer to get my answers? :p

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  6. I have a 14 (total) letter pair. One is from the Geographical Section. All syllables are strongly accented.

    MWCD marks strong and medium accents leaving weak accents unmarked. What does WS mean by "unaccented"? Are starting medium accented syllables acceptable?

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  7. Oh good grief. I just realized that I was operating under the assumption that the words had to have the same number of syllables. Silly me! Back to the drawing board...

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  8. There are so many open questions on what is a "rhyme" that I don't know what Will was intending. For example, does "fly" rhyme with "mudpie"? Or does "spider" rhyme with "flounder" because the last syllable is the same? Or does "laser" rhyme with "crater" because it has the same vowels sounds?

    I'm thinking it has to be a perfect rhyme with the same number of syllables and the same vowel and consonant sounds (except the beginning). Anyone else have an opinion?

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  9. Blaine - My 7-6 answer was in the spirit of fly and mudpie. But I suspect you are correct in thinking it has to be a "perfect" rhyme.

    Also, despite Will's one-syllable examples, shouldn't one-syllable words be excluded because all their syllables are unaccented?

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  10. In attempting to solve this week’s puzzle I found it useful to actually check the definition of rhyme. The following is from dictionary.com.

    1. Identity in sound of some part, esp. the end, of words or lines of verse.
    2. A word agreeing with another in terminal sound: “find” is a rhyme for “mind” and “womankind.”
    3. Verse or poetry having correspondence in the terminal sounds of the lines.

    There is no requirement that rhymes have more than one syllable or have the same number of syllables as the rhymed word.

    Chuck

    P.S. Monosyllabic words do not have all unaccented syllables. As Yogi Berra said, you can look it up :)

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  11. Here’s yet another rhyming definition, this one from The Complete Rhyming Dictionary.

    Rhyme is the identity in sound of an accented vowel in a word, usually the last one accented, and of all consonantal and vowel sounds following it, with a difference in the sound of the consonant immediately preceding the accented vowel.

    Chuck

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  12. I've got a 6-8 combo, one syllable and two-syllable, accent on first syllable. I'll hold off submitting until I see if someone beats 14.

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  13. I'm confused by "unaccented first syllable"...

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  14. One way to decide what "rhyme" means is to follow Will's lead and take Merriam-Webster as the guide. The online version includes a list of rhyming words for each entry.

    I found a pair of two-syllable words (8 - 9) that appear in the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary, that have accents on the first syllable, and which, according to Merriam-Webster online, rhyme. Neither word is very common. In fact, I doubt that I have ever used either before today.

    (I'll give a sports hint later in the week.)

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  15. The longest I've found so far is 6-6, one with one syllable and the other two. I don't like ambiguous puzzles like this (but that doesn't stop me from trying to solve them, LOL). I'm an accountant; I need things in black and white! ;) Plus it annoys me that Will is putting conditions on the answer (no unaccented first syllable), when he isn't even sure he has the best answer.

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  16. What about hyphenated compound words? If we find one in the dictionary, may we use it? If so, I have a 6/8 answer.

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  17. I've found a very nice 7-7 that does not use any obscure words. I'll admit I also cheated with a computer program.

    http://xkcd.com/208/

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  18. First syllable atonies get rid of many words
    that would produce large total letter counts.
    Use the other end of my scrambled clue to
    produce at least 2 words that form one half of 18 and 19 total letter combinations.

    I was surprised at how well the strategy turned up large letter counts within the rules, (even longer ones outside the rules.)

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  19. I've got an 8-7 with common three syllable words, accented on the first and rhyming on the last.

    Hugh, tell me more.

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  20. Actually, WS's example "guy" may be a clue. Can you find another word that has similar properties, only more extreme. Recognizing what my previous hint was would be a help. From that point, the technique that Doctechnical probably used in the "patron saint" puzzle to come up with a list of 7 or 8 probable words would produce the word in question (and very few others).

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  21. It may also be true that I have misinterpreted the puzzle. Were we to infer that the words are to be of nearly the same length?

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  22. Tommy Boy, does your 8-9 happen to rhyme with a certain sports venue?

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  23. Lorenzo, if you mean a proper named stadium or arena, I'm not sure. Both words do have strong relevance in the world of sports.

    And again, both 3 syllables accented on the first and rhyming on the last. Maybe not as common as my earlier findings.

    In any event, Hugh seems to have 18 and 19 letter solutions and I am stuck at 17.

    Watch for a new puzzle this afternoon at tomspuzzlebreak.blogspot.com

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  24. I agree that with one day to go, Hugh seems to be the lead.

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  25. My best previous answer counts were 3 + 17,18,19. I decided that this wasn't really what was asked for. I came up with a 14 + 14 pair, both with medium accent marks in MWCD. Any difficulty lies in the end-rhyme which is perhaps close to a last-syllable-rhyme.

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  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. Hey, gang. New puzzle up at tomspuzzlebreak.blogspot.com

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  28. Hugh, I'll see you and raise you one.

    Assuming words of foreign origin and hyphenated words (both in the dictionary) are allowed, I think I'm up to 10-10 (three syllables each).

    (Unfortunately, I've already submitted my 8-9).

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  29. Hugh, of course your 14-14, if valid, blows my 10-10 away!

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  30. I was pretty hot this week, but not quite enough to keep up with Hugh. I just submitted a 10-9 pairing.

    No hyphens and everything is in the book, as per Shortz. But it looks like Hugh saw me and raised me one better. Alas.

    -- Other Ben

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  31. All for the best, anyway. At 3pm tomorrow I'll be sitting in a dentist's chair unable to take the call.

    -- Other Ben

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  32. I got nothing this week. Then as reports of 8, 9, 10 and now 14+ lettered words came in, I felt my approach and effort was futile. Haven't come up this empty since the 100/500 (Concord) puzzle. Would one of you clever souls--Ben, Hugh, etc. kindly explain how to answer a puzzle like this with the computer?? After the close of the puzzle, natch. That way I will at least get better. Thanks

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  33. Well, it'll be interesting to hear what answer Will picks this week. Based on the comments, there are wildly varying possibilities. I submitted a 5-8 entry early, just cuz I didn't want to spend all week looking for the one-better answer.

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  34. jutchnbev,
    In the end - persistence and dumb luck.
    I submitted the answer (without a phone number) to WS, the final authority, to see if it's up to his standards.

    In addition to hard-cover MWCDv10 I have the accompanying electronic version (which used to be given by WS as a prize.) Good for searching for accents (MWCD often omits the beginning pronounciation of words.) The rhyming section, although helpful was not key.

    http://www.rhymer.com/ is where I picked up the terms:
    End Rhymes
    Last Syllable Rhymes
    Double Rhymes
    Beginning Rhymes
    First Syllable Rhymes

    as an indication that I might get away with my answer. However, no help was forthcoming for either of the words.

    Waiting to see if I'm full of it.

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  35. Blaine, this week's puzzle resulted in a phenomenon that may be unprecedented for the blog administrator.

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  36. Here's my lame submission: Fiji and Squeegee. I thought that was fairly good until y'all started talking about your much longer versions :)

    FWIW, I downloaded a rhyme program & database, wrote a program "around it" that just called the query program over and over again for every word on my word list and then checked the results for possible matches. Then I had to "hand-pick" out the sets with the wrong sylLABble emPHAsis.

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  37. jutchnbev: Here is a relatively straightforward computer-assisted procedure using only the online version of the Merriam Webster dictionary, which happens to include a list of ryhming words for each entry.

    Initial assumption: The words probably end with a vowel sound that can be produced in more than one way (for example, "o", "ow" or "eau").

    Step 1. Start with any multi-syllable word ending in this sound (I used "Oreo" to start my 3-syllable search) and enter it in Merriam Webster online.

    Step 2. From the list of rhyming words, look for long ones that use the less common spelling ("eau" in my example). I selected the 10-letter word "fricandeau" (a kind of roasted veal dish).

    Step 3. Return to the list of rhymes and look for other (long) words that have no letter in common with the selected one. (In my example, words whose only vowels were "o" or "y".) I quickly found the hyphenated 10-letter word "blow-by-blow".

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  38. OK -- here's what I submitted (which, based on the other posts, won't be the longest):

    voodoo and true-blue

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  39. To make a long story short -
    chincherinchee
    symptomatology

    The first word showed up as a rhyme to "quay".
    After spinning my wheels working on rhymes for "pyx", I realized that "chincherinchee" is a long word using only 5 consonants and 2 vowels, an opportunity to find another long word.

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  40. Wow...that's hard to beat...but, the first syllable of chincherinchee is unaccented, isn't it?

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  41. I sent in SHOPWINDOW and FLAMBEAUX.

    I'm proud to say I didn't use a computer, except to check that the words were in the dictionary. I'm embarassed to say I'm still not certain I understand the rules in terms of syllables and accents.

    I just knew from the start that I would look at -EAU and -OW as rhyming ends and went from there.

    I clued FLAMBEAUX by saying I was "pretty hot" and SHOPWINDOW by saying that Hugh "saw" me and raised me a bit.

    Cheers,

    -- Other Ben

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  42. My best was sobriquet and fallaway. Lorenzo, what was your sports venue reference?

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  43. Tommy Boy, for my 8-9 pair "flambeau" and "windthrow" I could have hinted: "Where Bart Starr uprooted opposing teams with the power of his airial attack."

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  44. Lorenzo, as I scroll through the comments here, our exchanges remind me of Irving Berlin.

    Perhaps that will be the answer to next week's challenge!

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  45. I misread the puzzle and was thinking ALL letters must be unique :) And with that in mind I came up with CROQUET DISPLAY.

    So after seeing answers here I realized what was up and updated my proggy with the revised rules to get CONFEREES ABDULAZIZ.

    I also will admit that I'm not totally clear on the accent restriction. Looking forward to hear the answers from Will.

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  46. Well, thank you for all the help above. That was very kind of you, although I can see how out of my league I am--no where near the capabilities of writing a program to solve an NPR puzzle. That is why I do better on puzzles with anagrams. But, so nice to be around all you clever folk. And, I will try some of the suggestions.
    I am about to begin my "snowbirding travels"--from East Coast oceans to Las Vegas desertscape, so I won't be blogging while I am enroute. I'll tune back in in about 2 weeks.
    I hope some of the answers above were winners. I like the figi/squeegee one,personally!!!! Go docT!!

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  47. You guys are all so good. I could not get past sauce and floss. I got so busy I did not get to enter it. Do we have to wait for the show to get the answer(s)? I kept lookin at Blaine's "hooray" and trying to make sense of that. squeegee and Fiji get my vote also.

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  48. Check the NPR website (google Will Shortz puzzle). Last week's answer is so lame that all of us are going to be disappointed. Will chose throws and beaux as the correct answers. He also accepted through and blew, and through and flew. To make matters worse, the puzzle for next week is the same as last week's puzzle. I assume that somebody goofed up and didn't change the puzzle on the website, but it's going to be changed on-air. I also think that Will meant to stipulate that the answers were one syllable answers.

    I submitted caraway and etouffee.

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  49. Dave - Perhaps the "Puzzle" is taking a day off for fund raising... it's That Time of the Year.

    And those are incredibly lame answers for this puzzle. Good grief, did I over-think this one. It makes me wonder if there's any point in actually submitting answers - my answer was (IMHO) much better than any of his.

    Someone call a Huff, I'm leaving in it.

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  50. I spent hours on this puzzle!!!!!! How lame, indeed.

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  51. Totally lame! I submitted flambeaux and windthrow

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  52. Wow, I'm kind of shocked. I forgot to submit mine before the deadline, I had sleigh and Broadway and figured that wasn't a winner anyway because it was only a 14. If Will wanted one syllable, why didn't he just say so?????? I won't quit playing though, I'm addicted.

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  53. Not been here in Blainesville for quite awhile --mostly because of prosaic puzzles. Liked this one because no obvious end to it. Went with the oh-so-very-prosaic "bouquet" and "hairspray", everything else I thought of appearing to be very contrived and esoteric. ("Overweigh" and "playday"? and the like...Puhleez...)
    Great answers, everyone! You are all such FUN!

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  54. Compliments to all the Blainesville bloggers who thoroughly outclassed Mr. Shortz this week. Will may be an accomplished puzzler, but he is also a careless expositor who often displays a tin ear when it comes to the nuances of language.

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  55. Lorenzo, with talk like that, you're never going to get "The Call."

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  56. Will was just getting us ready for Halloween. Now we’ve all had practice saying Boo! Except it came out sounding like Boooooooo!

    Anyway, I think it's still a great program. ;-)

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  57. PREDICTION: Will probably did only have one-syllable words in mind, but was surprised at how many multi-syllable answers he got. He will award this week's prize in the "one-syllable" division and rerun the puzzle for next week, in the "multi-syllable" division.

    Of course, I'm usually not all that psychic--more often psychotic, most would say.

    (Then again, it seems to me that "bouquet" and "flambeaux" begin with unaccented syllables. But maybe that's just a matter of regional pronunciation.)

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  58. I just heard the local puzzle for this week - take the letters from the words "Opening Credits" and re-arrange them to name two typewriter (or computer keyboard) symbols.

    Which is pretty simple, even though one of the symbols is NOT on my computer keyboard :)

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  59. I submitted preweigh and doomsday.
    I pronounce both with the accent on the first syllable.
    Overweigh seems OK on the accent, I guess, but bouquet doesn't seem acceptable.

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  60. You are right, Doctechnical, one of the symbols in the answer to this week’s puzzle does not have a particular keyboard key associated with it. But here’s a fun fact: you can use a combination of keys to create it anyway.

    (BTW, I don’t know anything about the Mac world or about Windows 7 but this method does work on PCs up through Windows XP. And though it will not work in Word itself, it will work in most old DOS applications, and in the older Windows word processors such as WordPad and Notepad.)

    If you know the decimal ASCII value of the character you’re looking for do this. Make sure the NumLock key is off. Hold down the Alt key. Then, on the numeric keypad sequentially press the numbers of the ASCII value you’re seeking.

    For example, the decimal ASCII value of a capital B is 66. So if you wanted to type a capital B using the method above, hold down the Alt key, press and release the 6 key, press and release the 6 key again, then release the Alt key. A “B” will appear on the screen.

    Another example, the decimal ASCII value of a slash is 47. Hold down the Alt key, press and release the 4 key, press and release the 7 key, then release the Alt key. A “/” will appear on the screen.

    The symbol without a key association in this week’s puzzle can be created in this way, too.

    Chuck

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  61. I don't have this symbol on my keyboard - something smells here !

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  62. Doctechnical - As soon as I read your comment I had the answer because I still reach for that missing key from time to time. I guess this shows my age!

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  63. In a certain way, the two I have are synonymous.

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  64. "Rearrange the 14 letters of "OPENING CREDITS" to name two symbols you can type on a typewriter or computer. What symbols are these?" The correct puzzle is now on NPR website.

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  65. I think all bases have been covered for this week's and last week's puzzle.

    Chuck, Check your BTW - not quit true - on purpose?

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  66. I call foul on the answers Will chose for last week's puzzle! It just doesn't make sense. I could have submitted sleigh and Monday which would have been one more letter than "through" and "view," but I figured with 12 total letters I wouldn't have a chance. :( Oh well, it's just a game, it's supposed to be fun, end of story.

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