Thursday, October 28, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 24, 2010): That's a Capital Idea

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 24, 2010): That's a Capital Idea:
Q: Name the capital of a country. Rearrange the letters to spell a word that sounds the same as the name of another country. To approach the puzzle backward, name a country that has a homophone that is an anagram of a different country's capital. What country and what capital city are they?
The following list of country capitals could be handy. I'm still working on the intended answer since so far I found a perfect anagram, not one that is a homophone.

Update: I feel like such a heel for not having figured this out sooner.

Edit: My hint was "feel like such a heel". A shoe has a heel and a sole (sounds like Seoul). You could also say I felt like a louse. :)
A: SOUTH KOREA's capital is SEOUL which anagrams to LOUSE which sounds like the country of LAOS.

55 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. My dictionary says that a homophone is one of two or more words which sound alike but which differ in meaning, derivation, or spelling.

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  4. Big hint where Will is now visiting.

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  5. I think that Dan and John would have no problem solving this puzzle.

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  6. I found your perfect anagram, too, Blaine. But no cigar. I also think I have the intended answer, though I don't think it's a very good puzzle.

    Chuck

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  7. The perfect anagram is a homophone...though possibly not the intended answer. It is not a necessary condition that words be spelt differently to be homophones.

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  8. This one has me bugged. I feel like I've got cooties, right down to the bottom of my feet.

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  9. It's good to be back to puzzles I can solve with the computer. Fifty-six lines of code and the one bug was easy to find.

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  10. I found three answers to this puzzle. One is the intended answer, another one works, and the third is half right.

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  11. For my answer the city anagrams to a real word, the word is pronounced exactly the same as a country having one less letter.

    A couple of good clues have been given.

    Dave's other incorrect answer in addition to the exact anagram mentioned, is one in which the city anagrams to a nonsense word which could be pronounced like a country.

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  12. Hugh - that's interesting, my answer's anagram has two more letters than the country it's a homophone of.

    Dave - Agreed, there is an answer that is "half" right.

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  13. Are we interpreting the puzzle to mean that the Capital is anagrammed into and English word, or a collection of letters that are pronounced as a word?

    My answer, so far, uses the second interpretation.

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  14. My interpretation is this restatement:

    The anagram of a world capital phonetically names another country. Does anyone disagree?

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  15. Phil J. - My opinion: the first.

    Doc - I'm comfortable with my answer which others appear to agree with. I'll have to work harder to suss yours.

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  16. MWCD gives the preferred pronunciation of the country as a single syllable. However, I use one of the two syllable versions myself. Phonetically MWCD declares the single syllable pronunciation of the country and the capital's anagram to be identical.

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  17. I think we need an up or down vote for Dave's half right answer.

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  18. If you refer to the dictionary pronounciation of the country and the anagram, they are not pronounced the same.

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  19. Coincidentally, the country from which we derive the perfectly anagrammed, non-homophonic thus incorrect answer can be perfectly anagrammed with the result being synonymous to perfect.

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  20. I think I'm in the same boat as Dave with three answers. Mine are spread over two (and a half) continents. One is an exact anagram. One is half right. And one - I suspect - is the correct answer. Clearly a lousy puzzle.

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  21. Hugh: My apologies, my answer seems to be the same as yours, with the anagram word being ONE more letter than the capital it is a homophone of. I've gotten so dependent on computers I seem to have forgotten how to count correctly :(

    I would point out that the Merriam-Webster definition of an anagram is "a word or phrase made by transposing the letters of another word or phrase" - so by that definition the anagram would have to be a real word you could find in a dictionary, not just a pronounceable jumble of letters.

    And if you look up the "half-right" answer on Wikipedia, you'll see it's, well, half of the country's name. I would vote "no" on that being legal.

    Aren't I just Buzz Killington today? Well on the upside, my Beloved Brownies won in a fantastic upset. Woof woof!

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  22. Natasha - Again using Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary #10. - Compare the pronounciation of the anagram in the "word" section to the pronunciation of the country in the "geographical" section. I feel constrained to follow WS's stated sources and rules as closely as I can even if he doesn't.

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  23. Wikipedia defines homophone as a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. But it adds that homophone may also apply to units longer or shorter than words, such as phrases, letters or groups of letters that are pronounced the same as another phrase, letter or group of letters.

    Dictionary.com defines homophone as a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not, as heir and air. But it adds that homophone may also be a written element that represents the same spoken unit as another, as_ks, a homophone of x in English.

    Merriam-Webster defines homophone as one of two or more words pronounced alike but different in meaning or derivation or spelling (as the words to, too, and two). But it adds that homophone may also be a character or group of characters pronounced the same as another character or group.

    So it would appear that a homophone may be – but does not have to be – a word.

    Chuck

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  24. Buzz, I agree with your vote in the literal sense, but my up or down was in reference to N or S.

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  25. Hugh, using your resource they are pronounced the same. Thanks

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  26. I'm not sure how the consensus will shake out on the homophone. I submitted an answer where the capital city's name perfectly anagrams into an English word. I can see how the pronunciation can become a problem in that the noun/adjective for the people of this country changes the syllable structure, and also drops the last letter of the country in favor of another.

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  27. The slippery slope in using non-words in the solution is that we have greater latitude in how we pronounce a group of letters that do not represent a real word than we do when we pronounce a real word. That is the problem I have with my answer. The non-word anagram of the capital I am thinking of can be pronounced more than one way – who is to say how it should be pronounced? Can I choose the pronunciation to fit my solution?

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  28. While there are several near-miss answers, there is one that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. Don’t be too nit-picky, Folks :)

    Chuck

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  29. I guess my observations became moot when I found the “real word” answer that many of you had already found – not that I’m splitting hairs, of course. In any event, I still find using non-words as homophones in a puzzle like this to be undesirable -- and in this case unnecessary.

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  30. Looks like a lot of us agree on the same answer. I e-mailed the one and a half other answers as well.

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  31. Just found another country/capital pair that works as a homophone and isn't an anagram. I already submitted my answer, so I guess I'm forbidden from entering this one.

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  32. Dave, I may have found the same pair of homophones that don't require anagramming. However, I'm not sure it is a perfect homophone. My dictionary had one rhyming with "sea" and the other rhyming with "say". Are we thinking of the same pair?

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  33. This sounded like another rotten puzzle not in good spirit...however the new country I came up with can further be anagrammed to be a homonym of the country for which we used the capital to generate an anagram to get a homonym of the second country - aah infinite recursion !!
    Given Will's second backward clue - I think this is it - best puzzle for a long while.

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  34. Dave, yes, you CAN go both ways and get two pairs of homonyms.
    But I think one pair is extraneous to the puzzle statement. For Will's requirement, you only anagram the capital name. Maybe he missed the alternate anagramming of the country name!

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  35. I don't know why you are all bugging out about the puzzle. It seemed very straightforward both in spirit and form.

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  36. Blaine, I'm not sure if we're talking about the same countries. I guess we'll have to wait until Thursday.

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  37. Okay, gang. You said last week's puzzle was too easy so here's a tougher one. Doc technical, this one's right up your alley!

    www.tomspuzzlebreak.blogspot.com

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  38. I just hope none of you still working on a solution get lost going down the same cold, empty blind alleys that I wasted time on.

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  39. Here are the answers I came up with...

    Country: South Korea
    Capital: Seoul
    Anagram: Louse (a sort of bug)
    2nd Country homophone: Laos

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  40. Seoul and Laos.
    Kabu (capital of Azerbaijan) and Cuba.
    Lima and Mali (anagram).
    Bogota and Tobago (anagram - this is half right since the country is Trinidad and Tobago).

    My guess is that Will was looking for Seoul and Laos, but Kabu and Cuba are equally valid.

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  41. Initially I misread the question and thought the capital and country were direct homophones. So I was working with MALDIVES, capital MALE, country MALI. The only problem was the pronunciations are MAH-lay and MAH-lee.

    Then I noticed the word "anagram" in the question. That got me to the country of PERU, capital LIMA, anagram of MALI but I don't think you can say MALI and MALI are homophones. I didn't have time to finish searching before wanting to post the puzzle.

    When I came back to the puzzle, I figured out the intended answer of SOUTH KOREA, capital SEOUL, anagram LOUSE, homophone of LAOS.

    I still wonder which capital/country pair Dave had that were homophones without being anagrams...

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  42. My Dan and John clue refers to Aykroyd and Belushi, the Blues Brothers - "Soul Man."

    Dave, I thought your half right answer was Cairo anagrammed to Coria homophoned to Korea, only half the name.

    My up or down vote referred to North or South, the other half of the country name.

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  43. The only valid answer is BAKU and CUBA.

    KOREA is not the official name of a country.

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  44. Sorry, I gave the wrong reason for having only one valid answer.

    LOUSE and LAOS are not homophones. LOUSE is a one-syllable word (rhymes with mouse), but LAOS is a two-syllable word (LA-OS).

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  45. Mario - I'm going to have to respectfully disagree. Laos is one syllable according to the MWCD 10 on my desk. Laotion, however, adds the syllable that you mention.

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  46. Anyone else notice that Laos can be anagrammed back to Soal (Seoul) ? As well as being a homophone of the original city, it is a real word meaning dirty pond.

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  47. Curtis, you may be right. I found one dictionary that has three alternative pronunciations for Laos. One is the one you mentioned, where AO sounds like AU (like in mouse). The other two are two-syllable words: LAH-OHS and LAY-OHS. In both cases the OH sound is like Oh, boy! (not like AU).

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  48. DaveJ, yes, see my comment about that. There are two pairs of homonyms!

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  49. On air it was mentioned that Will was in Latvia, Capital of which is Riga. Anagram to Irag (Iraq)???

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  50. I was fooling around with Baku and Cuba. The second pronunciation given for Cuba by MWCD#10 struck me as odd.

    1. ▀kyü-bə
    2. ▀kü-vä

    Just practicing lessons learned last week. Otherwise trying to figure out how Blaine displayed the upside-down font some time ago.

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  51. Hugh -

    ¿sıɥʇ ǝʞıl uɐǝɯ no⅄

    Try http://www.upsidedowntext.com

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  52. Doc - Gee, I think I looked at that. Not closely enough I guess. Thanks.

    I'm wondering if the v in kuva was a typo that made it past the editor (V is next to B).

    Now to answer Tommy Boy's puzzle.

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  53. Hi evry 1 I picked N. Korea - got soul cuz in my neighborhood during the Nam war, Laos was pronounced every which way. Although I admit the smal dive (maldives) held my attention for a bit. Blaine, have you done anything diff. in your site for last 2 weeks. Most of the time I go to the site and get a 2 second banner and then a blank screen with no way 2 access. Is it my computer? or have the work IT guys found a way to limit employees for blogging EVEN ON THEIR LUNCH HOUR (yeah yeah work property, I know) Anyway, any one know why? I probably won't get answer til 20 tries from now.

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  54. Blaine, Lima and Mali and Bogota and Tobago are anagrams. Seoul and Laos and Kabu and Cuba aren't. I hope I didn't mislead you.

    RoRo, I haven't noticed anything different about the blog. It's probably something they're doing with your computer at work. Time to get a new job.

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