## Thursday, October 18, 2012

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 14, 2012): Word Properties

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 14, 2012): Word Properties:
Q: What specific and very unusual property do these five words have in common: school, half, cupboard, Wednesday and friend? Identify the property and name a sixth word that shares the property. Any word having this property will be counted correct.
While I usually have these right away, I had to think a couple times before I got the specific property.

Edit: It was pretty easy to notice that there were silent letters in each of the words... but the specific property is that the silent letter is in the third position in the word. I mentioned that I had to think a couple times before getting this property (e.g. third try). Additionally the picture I chose was of planet Earth which is the third planet from the sun.
A: In all the words, the third letter is silent. Some examples are JEoPARDY, DEbT, SIgN and WAtCH

#### 105 comments:

1. Here's my standard reminder... blah, blah, blah. you know what to do. Nothing direct until after the Thursday 3pm ET deadline.

1. This comment has been removed by the author.

2. I guess I tried too hard to not use the word "answer" which had a silent "w". That apparently confused Stefanos who thought it was okay to just post the outright answer. :)

2. Had to wrack my brain but finally came up with a plausible answer. Hope Will doesn’t balk at my solution.

Chuck

3. OK, what's up with that!? Sorry folks. Not really trying to sell phones here.

4. What's going on, Blaine?

1. Please explain. I'm not sure what issue you are seeing. Everything looks fine to me.

2. My posts are somehow including a link to cell phone ads, at least on my computer. Are you not seeing them?

3. Tommy Boy ~ If they are AllTell ads, it could be the Lord trying to give you a clue for this week's puzzle, brother. Praise God!

5. No idea on the puzzle, but let's see if I get a cell phone ad.

6. My H.S. English teacher, Ms. Kohler, would turn over in her grave and crack a smile.

7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1. Where is Blaine when we really need him?

2. Stefanos Karavolos:
Are you a complete idiot?

3. Not a complete idiot, SDB, just a half-wit. Maybe he's gnu around here...

4. Mourning AbqGuerrilla, prawbabbly troo, but I am knot wun 2 supher phools gladlee.

5. This may be a good place for this comment:

I just listened to this morning's broadcast on the NPR website (missed it over the radio), and noted that 'about 65 out of more than 300 of our listeners counted 82 triangles' last week.

Sadly, I was not among the 'about 65', but then I wasn't among the 'more than 300' either (I've only ever been a member of that group once in the history of the Sunday Puzzle). However, had I chosen to join the larger group, the smaller group would have been enlarged by 1. Permit me to explain. I was employing the 'brute force/count the 3-tuples' approach, and kept losing my place (dropping stitches, so to speak), and never got more than 81. Yet, some higher 'power' convinced me that the correct answer must be 82. Go figure.

I have some hunches about the new puzzle, but I fear they're all incorrect. That doesn't stop me from offering a musical clue: Tom Jones.

6. AbqGuerrilla:
Corry, mi cpell cheque knot wurckeng tooda. Shuld that be SULPHER?

7. Righto, SkyDive Bouy. TuochÃ©. GuErrillaBuoy.

8. AbqGuerrilla:
And toosh B to you too. Did you watch the high skydive?

9. Yes. It was the LOW point of my DAY.

8. Could someone give me a sign that I have the right answer?

1. You may think you have the right answer, Acemaster, but there's a little more to it than that. I'm actually more interested in knowing how the hell you got ASCII text to italicize.

2. I can answer that, AbqGuerrilla.

You can add HTML tags in your post, such as <I>sign</I>.

And how did I just now render the brackets (< & >) you ask? Well, < is &lt; and > is &gt;. - And, of course, & is &amp;.)

9. Last night I posted at the end of our last week's blog;

skydiveboy Sun Oct 14, 01:59:00 AM PDT

It is up now and I solved it as I read the question. I am going back to bed though and will leave you all waiting until I get up in the morning for a clue, so please remain calm until then.

10. No cell phone ads but a song that's full of suggestions "Love train" by O'Jays

1. Challenging to interpret; difficult, for some(not u), to.......uhhhhh.......apply?

2. Actually, I have fallen off the Love Train. Ditched it for a ditch

11. Notwithstanding the dead giveaway: each word appears to be derived from Anglo Saxon.

12. My clue(s): It was kind of a cold one here in Provo last night. Temps dipped down to 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyway, I figured I had this one solved instantly, but later this morning as wives #1 and #2 and I were enjoying some smoked salmon and bagels around the breakfast table, wife #3 looked up from the ironing board and said, "There's a greater measure of difficulty here than first meets the ear, Dahling." She was right! Who would think a peasant gal from Schenectady would have the wits to point out my error. I was so aghast I nearly had a seizure! OK, I should get down to the barn and brand that new calf before that bad weather comes in. Will check back later. (13 clues. Zat enough for ya? Now make that 14).

1. AbG:

Could you recount your clues carefully? By my count, I have you at 15 becomming 16 when you add the parenthetical note.

In my count, #1 rhymes with #2 AND #8. (And of course, I'm NOT referring to your wives here.)

2. I concur with 14 because 2 don't meet the criteria although they appear to.

3. Upon closer self-examination, you BOTH appear to be correct. Enya Fan, I totally missed #8, right? And I missed "greater" which might qualify, now that I think about it. And Mz. RoRo ;-) you are somewhat correct as well. I don't think seizure passes muster technically, but if you are gettin' up in my grill over "dahling," darling (sorry, gotta maintain my street cred as a punster), I respectfully disagree.

4. Kudos to your recognizing #8. As to "greater", that was one of my question marks. In addition to my count of 15 plus 1 more between the parentheses, I had also counted 5 more cases which I had marked with question marks. Besides "greater", they were "ironing", "would" (twice), and "should". Obviously, "ironing" fails your -ectomy test, and even if Will hasn't even considered that test, (I think he likely would've used a substitute for "Wednesday" if he had), whether or not "ironing" still counts can depend on where you live!

5. In my comment above, I wish I had replaced "still counts" with "would've counted even then", so the last sentence would then end with "whether or not 'ironing' would've counted even then can depend on where you live!"

6. Geez EAWAF, nice work! Of course, we still have a way to go to beat 82 triangles, bro.

13. I'm hooked!

14. OK I got it, they all have hotels on Boardwalk.

15. Who has time for these puzzles? I'm taking the team out on the boat for some pie.

16. Very clever, SkyDiveBoy! You ought to be on the Reading Railroad headed for Phoenix! Do not pass Gough, do not collect a hundred dahlas, (6 clues)

1. Only 6? I counted 7.

2. If you are implying that "railroad" qualifies, compadre, I would have to challenge your thinking as it does not pass the -ectomy test I refer to further on down the blog.
GuerrillaBoy

3. AbqGuerrilla:
Yes, but still I think it qualifies as a clue/hint.

17. Blaine - did you forget to add the label NPR to your post?

18. My husband hates word puzzles and says "the only thing those words have in common is they are part of a puzzle that I have no desire to solve."
I'm working on it, and BTW you are all skilled at not giving out any useful hints in your obscure posts.

19. Hey Jan!
Did you watch the high skydive? I can explain later why he did not break the record for longest freefall if you are interested.

1. Yeah, I did. The tumbling looked like it got a little hairy there for a while, which I assume is why they cut the video until he stabilized. Was the failure to break the longest freefall record because he was trying to break the sound barrier, i.e., trying for a faster descent? Or did he just pop his chute higher?

2. jan:
The slow spin was not cut out of the video I watched and I saw him recover it easily the same way I would have done. I was a bit surprised he knew that trick.
I don't know what altitude Joe pulled at, but the reason his freefall was longer is because he was only a novice skydiver and they were afraid he would have gone out of control, so they used a drogue chute to keep him stable. This slowed his speed.

3. Also he could have continued with that slow spin and not had a problem. What they were concerned about was a high speed spin. That is very different.

4. Finally got to watch the high dive on YouTube this morning, SDB. Man! I haven't seen a spin like that since Ari Fleischer was workin' his Press Secretary gig under Bush Lite.
GuerrillaBoy

20. OK. All seriousness aside, there is a key factor that many seem to be overlooking. When you consider Will's five clue words and then perform the necessary -ectomy, everyone (except you, Stefanos) will quickly realize that there is another commonality. That is why words like "sign" and "coat" do not really qualify. Enugh said.
Best regards,
GuerrillaBoy

1. The simpler commonality that was blurted out and censored previously hardly qualifies as "very unusual", in any case.

2. That's a good point, Jan. I'd like to add that I was about to alert everyone to the fact that Romney is gonna be on NBC's "Press the Meat" this morning and use the phrase as a clue. But then I realized that "meat" does not pass my own previously posted litmus test.
GuerrillaBoy

3. AbG:

I don't think Wednesday passes your -ectomy litmus test. (Musical hint: Tom Lehrer)

4. I disagree, Weird Al Fan (how many fans does it take to keep Weird Al cool, by the way?). Just looked it up and, unlike things in Greenwich Village, the pre-op version is pretty much the same.
Effectionately yours,
GuerrillaBoy

21. I'm in debt to all the people who provided clues although they were often pretty subtle.

1. Unlike the clue you just dropped, Charles, which was quite arrant. I'm just sayin'...

22. Well it's Tuesday already! And how are you forecastle doing today?

1. Why are you asking a question directed at either

1.
a superstructure at or immediately aft of the bow of a vessel, used as a shelter for stores, machinery, etc., or as quarters for sailors.

-or-

2.
any sailors' quarters located in the forward part of a vessel, as a deckhouse.

-or-

3.
the forward part of the weather deck of a vessel, especially that part forward of the foremast.

(Just directly quoting dictionary.com's definition of forecastle.)

2. I think it's just SDB's Ayn Randian approach to leaving clues. The key words here are "Tuesday" and "sailor." Sometimes I think he's a Republican 'cause he likes to make sure people work hard for their clues. Unlike Stephanos, the "food stamps resident" blogger who is onboard with the entitlement (aka giveaway) approach to cluedom.

3. Enya_and_Weird_Al_fan:
You asked me this question:

"Why are you asking a question directed at either" and it went on forever.

My answer is: I didn't. And you should read my post more carefully.

23. EWAF:
Such a good question. It reminds me of a long time back when I was in military intelligence and we had this Major Diogenes who was always in search of the Colonel of Truth.

ABG:
I knew you would eventually get back at me for my Rush to judgment dig. But I think you really see the light (fewer calories here) and know the significance of my post.

24. I never met Maj. Diogenes, but I knew the Colonel of Truth quite well when he was just a lieutenant. Of course, back then, his rank would have passed muster as per this week's puzzle. On a side note, he was actually the reason the Army changed the abbreviation for lieutenant from Lie. to Lt. back in 1952.

1. Don't forget that in Great Britain lieutenants are all Lefties.

2. Some British Lieutenants were also Viscounts.

3. And some of them were no-counts.

4. Can't wait until Thursday. TMC is replaying "The Silence of the Hams."

"A pun is the absolute lowest form of humor--if you didn't happen to think of it first." - Orson Wells

5. I happen to agree with that quote. There are others equally informative and one by I forget who saying puns are the high form of humor. I have long thought people were envious of those who can see the pun that is hiding in plain sight, but only recognized by the punster.
I can never forget my late brother telling me it was so obvious when I referred to camp Lejeune as Camp Jejune. Right.

Here is one I made up a few years back that is a good example, and no offense to anyone intended.

What do you call a gay monkey?
A chimp pansy.

25. Hmm.

- Other Ben

26. Well I for one don't think Stephanos.

27. Each of these words has one or more silent letters that do not influence the pronunciation of the word they inhabit. If these letters are removed the pronunciation still is not influenced.

Lincoln & Polk qualify.

I left numerous hints that should now be obvious. There seems to be some confusion about this post of mine:

"Well it's Tuesday already! And how are you forecastle doing today?"

Forecastle is pronounced foxl or folks all. So I was asking how you folks all are doing.

28. The third letter in each word is silent. My example of another such word was “sign.”

Last Sunday I said, “Had to wrack my brain but finally came up with a plausible answer. Hope Will doesn’t balk at my solution.” C in wrack, I in brain, E in came, E in plausible, W in answer and L in balk are all silent.

Chuck

29. My first reaction to this puzzle was that the silent letters were in the third position, but then I noticed that in the two words with two syllables there is also a silent letter in the third position of the second syllable. Then I noticed that words such as sign change when the silent letter is removed and in that word it is now sin. It will be interesting to see what Will was thinking.

1. SDB –

I take your point but I was actually thinking of the trig function, SINE, which is a homophone of SIGN, and which is abbreviated SIN. SIN is the way the function is almost always expressed in trig equations.

Chuck

2. Yes but the other words are not math inclined and it would be a cardinal sin to ignore sin. :-)

30. These words contain consonant blends, which by their nature/defintion mean one of the consonants is silent.

1. The I in friend is silent and not a consonant.

31. I posted on Sun Oct 14, at 02:25:00 AM PDT on last week's thread:

I've submitted an answer. I believe I figured out the property, but I had to admit that my 6th word was unknown.

The word which I submitted as an example was indeed the word "unknown", whose 3rd letter is a silent k. I was a little leary about repeating that post in this week's thread as Blaine might've considered it too obvious a clue.

On this week's thread I also posted on Sun Oct 14, at 03:42:00 PM PDT in a reply to AbqGuerrilla:

AbG:

I don't think Wednesday passes your -ectomy litmus test. (Musical hint: Tom Lehrer)

AbG's -ectomy litmus test is for the word's pronunciation to not change if that silent 3rd letter is removed. The Tom Lehrer song to which I was referring is "Silent E", a song he composed and performed for the show "The Electric Company" on PBS. His song gives examples of words with short vowels followed by single ending consonants which change their pronunciation to their long sound when a silent "E" is appended. In the example "Wednesday", I argued that if the silent d is removed, then with now only a single n between the two e's, the first e would now be pronounced long. AbG disaggrees.

32. I'm not positive that school would be pronounced the same if the h were removed. I sent in "weather" as a sixth.

1. Looking back I now realize how happy I was when I finally got the H out of school.

2. TouchÃ©, SkyDiveBoy. That's a good one. Wish I had thought of it first.

I continue to have a slight uneasiness about this puzzle and it hinges on Will's words "specific and very unusual property." Personally, I don't think that having a silent letter in the #3 spot qualifies as "very unusual." "Slightly unusual," OK. I could buy that. But here at the kitchen table, we were able to come up with scores of examples in less than 15 minutes. This is why I came up with the -ectomy caveat (i.e., when the silent letter is removed, the word is pronounced essentially the same). Even with that little "add-on," I just can't help but think, that despite our collective five-figure I.Q., we (all of us) may still be missing something. I sincerely hope so. Otherwise, this will be yet another dud puzzle for the dumbed-down masses.

3. AbqGuerrilla:
I completely agree; well said.
When I first read the puzzle I saw immediately that there was a silent letter in the third position, but then saw more as I posted above, but it seemed so utterly stupid. So, I kept looking for something not obvious and as you state it was reinforced by "specific and VERY unusual property." But I am not impressed with Will's idea of a good puzzle anyway, so we will just have to wait.
Speaking of having to wait, consider this:
HAVE and BEHAVE. How does one explain the discrepancy in pronounciation?

33. Something else I just discovered: In each case, the silent letter is positioned between a consonant and a vowel. Do you think this is significant? Note that the silent "i" in sign is between two consonants. This, of course, may be circular reasoning in the sense that perhaps in order for a word to be pronounced the same after the -ectomy, the silent letter may HAVE to be between a consonant and a vowel. I need to think about this some more. Still think there may be a "subtlety" we are missing.

On an unrelated note, my sources in Washington tell me that Bill Clinton phoned Mitt after the debate. He wanted more details about those binders full of women...

1. AbqGuerrilla:
Any fool knows that Binders Of Women is a term used in Asia to describe those who wrap the feet of girls in order that they have tiny feet when they grow up. Beware women! It could become a Republican policy here in this country if Mittens is elected. Keep your Mitts off our feet!

2. Good one! actually the g is the silent letter in sign and I did have the same ectomy in mind when I made my submission

34. I suppose it would be cheating to have submitted SCHOOLBOY or FRIENDSHIP as my answer?

1. Well Your Highness, I take your point, but consider what Will said:

"Any word having this property will be counted correct."

And if he did not accept your choice of words, given your position, you could have his head removed from his body.

Don't you agree, Your Mistakenness?

35. My best 6th word: exhibit. Next best: often

36. I was just thinking about the word HAIR. It seems to maybe have a silent letter, the I, but although it too is in the third position I would say it does not qualify as it seems to influence the pronounciation of this word. I won't mention the words LAIR or FAIR or PEAR, so their.

37. Forget about vowel blends. It is much more fun to play with consonants. Here's a challenge. How many words can you think of that include two of the same consonants - one is silent and one is not?

For example: knock, signage, psychopath.

1. Does Ted Gnugent qualify?

2. Lieutenant-colonel.

3. Don't forget one of Will's own examples, Wednesday.

And SDB, why add the Lieutenant part? Its only silent letter(s) is(are) the 1st e and possibly also the i before it. Ward wants only two of the same consonants.

4. You are correct, but I thought adding the left tennant part added something interesting.

5. Also I did not want to participate in self-promotion.

38. I saw the silent 3rd letter property right away, but did not see how it could be considered very unusual. There are a kajillion words that would fit. Finally saw the so-called -ectomy and submitted those two properties. Apparently I wasted a boatload of time on this...sheesh!!!

1. I agree. If being the third letter is the sole answer, then this is a dubm, dubm, dubm puzzle.

39. Please tell me the new puzzle just posted is not the actual puzzle. Please.

Please.

1. I do feel your pain, but what did you expect, a real puzzle?

2. I refer Will to Blaine's guidelines for this blog:

"Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via Google or Bing) 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.

You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you."

Quick! Someone hide Google!

40. On the bright side, this could just be a disgruntled NPR intern pulling a prank on all us early adopters.

41. For anyone who wants a slightly more interesting question this week, I refer them to the CarTalk Puzzler.