Sunday, March 27, 2016

NPR Sunday Puzzle (March 27, 2016): Both man and woman...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (March 27, 2016): Both man and woman...:
Q: It's a two-line verse from the Nov. 12, 1803, issue of the Boston Weekly Magazine:

I am both man and woman too,
And go to school as good boys do.
Will Shortz is looking for the answer to this riddle so submit your best answer to the NPR website.
I've pulled an image from the original issue of the Boston Weekly Magazine (November 12, 1803) if that helps.

Edit: The same rebus/riddle appeared in the December 1759 issue of The London Magazine. The answer given in the following month was that the answer is "I". But this answer was less than satisfying so Will picked a different answer.
A: Ruler

159 comments:

  1. Samuel Johnson's dictionary is a help for checking word usage in the early 19th century:
    http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/
    (You have to use Page View for most of the entries, since the dictionary is only partly transcribed.)

    I've already used the dictionary to rule out a possibility.

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  2. I wonder if it's significant that the same verse appeared in the December 1759 issue of "The London Magazine"?

    Like "House of Cards", "Master Chef", "The Office" and "All in the Family" (nee "Till Death Do Us Part"), an early version of American media reprising the clever Brits?

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  3. SIREN a possible answer. See THIS.

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  4. WTF? That's all that needs to be said.

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  5. My answer fits the parameters I believe. Felt a little out of my league at first.

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  6. "Rebus" is interesting. The question is: It is important?

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  7. I have come up with what I believe to be a viable answer, but I suspect may not be the one intended by the author. Again I will be unable to post at noon this Thursday.

    If you are finished with this you might want to head on over to lego's Puzzleria! where he is running one of my creations this week. It occurred to me this morning that it also may have somewhat of a connection to today.

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  8. I have a cool answer, but it's certainly not the one intended by eighteenth century puzzlers.

    Hm, what are the ground rules this week, since quite likely nobody will get the "correct answer".

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    Replies
    1. I have a similar solution/guess in that it may or may not fit the 18th Century. I have a musical clue for my guess; but like a Will, it's a dead giveaway.

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    2. GB, Will as a dead giveaway--terrific wordplay!

      This 19th century puzzle? A _______ is actually a ____.

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    3. GB, Will as a dead giveaway--terrific wordplay!

      This 19th century puzzle? A _______ is actually a ____.

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    4. You are correct, Ma'am, on my chronological designation. I'll have my proofreader shot. However, I contend that what may not have been known in the 19th Century was not likely known in the 18th. At the same time, it does appear that much of what was once known is no longer known in the 21st Century. Now there's a Puzzle.

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    5. Indeed, GB. Things like common sense and decorum, for instance. . .

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  9. I've submitted an answer which is technically correct, but which doesn't seem like something an 18th century puzzle maker would have used. But that may be why he never published the answer.

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  10. Present tense of a shop tool.

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  11. As the Irishman said to the podiatrist. . . .

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    Replies
    1. Does today's podiatrist toe-tally run podcasts?

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    2. He's too busy saving soles.

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    3. Physician, heel thyself!

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    4. I thought the Irishman said, "Me fate is in your hands..."

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    5. And I thought I had found the correct answer in IAMB, the first four letters of the rhyme, since the two lines are all in iambic meter (and hence the reference to feet or fate in that old chestnut). Disappointed again.

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  12. I've found the intended answer. I mean, I didn't think of it; I discovered it.

    It is very, very lame. I can link to it, but I guess I shouldn't. Even though, believe me, linking wouldn't "spoil" anything.

    I wonder if Will is going to count someone who submits this officially correct answer as the winner, or if he'll go with someone who gives a much better answer than the official one.

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    1. Crito,
      I want you on my research team! Are you some kind of cyber-sleuthy detective or investigative reporter by profession?
      Some people watch the Discovery Channel... You just channel your powers of discovery!

      LegoWhoCannotEvenTellAMovieOrAlbumByLookingAtTheDisKCover

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    2. I sent in the same, with the reasoning. Agreed it is lame (although there are almost too many hints here already!) But it is the 'correct' answer. Would love a better one!

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    3. I think the answer I sent in yesterday is a better one, but I won't be able to share it until about one pm on Thursday due to an eye exam appointment.

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    4. Study hard, SDB! Even if you can't read a letter on the chart, you have a 1/26 chance of guessing the answer.

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    5. I knew that but when I ask, "What chart?" and they reply, "The chart on the wall." I get a bit nervous.

      Actually I am going through a nightmare of preparing for cataract surgeries. Because I have always worn hard contacts I have to allow my eyes (all three of them) to settle back to their natural shape and this requires having to wear regular glasses, which cannot work well. They tell me it could take anywhere from two weeks to a year for this to happen.

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    6. How is it that the guy who made that chart got all the numbers right, but couldn't do it with the E's?

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    7. Perhaps he or she did not prepare charts with ease. . .

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    8. I just realized that this line of banter has a tenuous connection to my answer to this week's puzzle.

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    9. SDB - I feel for your eye trouble. I had cataract surgery about five years ago. A doctor prescribe medicine for an eye infection that had the unintended consequence of causing rapid onset cataracts (I went blind in about a month). On the plus side, after the surgery, I have the best vision of my life.

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    10. Thanks for that report. I'm glad it all worked out for you. I thought this was going to be a fairly quick fix with one eye and then the other, but it is going to be at least the end of summer before it is over. I live for summer. Now it is spoiled for me. All the information I was given originally turned out to be bogus, so all my planning to get it resolved during the winter is not working.

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    11. So glad to read about your cataract issues. Mine due to medicine and now I am falling down stairs...ruptured ACL in left knee two months ago.

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    12. Legolambda, I meant: I didn't work out an answer, but rather found it in a source. As, it's clear, others have.

      I am not sleuthy by vocation or even avocation; I lean more toward metagroboly. I do have a very knowledgeable friend, as you may have heard, although he always disclaims it.

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    13. Well, in all seriousness, condolences SDB on the cataract issues, especially during a PNW summer (which reminds me of the Bradbury story "All Summer in a Day").
      Best of luck in the procedures and recovery!

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    14. Thanks, mike, but should it not work out, I hope to see them in court.

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    15. In that case, whether you see them or sue them is up to U.

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    16. If I see them in court, then I guess I lose, or actually win. We'll see. I hope.

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    18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. I believe that I have the intended answer, but, living as I now do on the Maltese Island of Gozo, am unable to submit as the NPR site will not allow submission without a phone number having an area code: which the Maltese Islands do not have.

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    Replies
    1. You should be able to send it via Maltese Falcon.

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    2. Notwithstanding snarkydiveboy, why not put in a "fake" area code (e.g. 202 for DC) and include your actual phone number with your answer? They'll read it.

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    3. Because now with their new submit form you are unable to even submit two phone numbers, such as land line and cell. Of course you could put it into the body of the submission, but I doubt they would even notice it.

      Oh, and that's Mr. snarkkydiveboy to you eco.

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  14. Iam both man and woman too,
    I go to school in South Carolina where I cannot use the loo.

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    Replies
    1. (Although, I believe it was North Carolina that passed that law.)

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    2. Right on both Brave! and it being North Caroline, but we all know things are even worse in South Carolina.

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  15. I have never been sure if there is a difference.

    Otherwise, I am putting this challenge in the lower 10% of all Wee Willy's offerings.

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  16. Make that "lowest 10




























    Make that "lowest 10%."


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  17. Would anyone know when the postcard days existed, or when email was initiated?

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    Replies
    1. The postcard days stopped after all the suspicious white powder mailings in the US in 2001. Email and postcard days overlapped for awhile. . .

      Why do you ask, zeke creek?

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    2. I don't know for sure when it happened, zeke, but I am positive we are now in the post postcard days.

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  18. For when someone or even I am picked we can claim that badge of honor. I am grateful for all of your help and friendship.

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  19. My birthday today. Grateful for this blog site and the fun bloggers on here.

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    Replies
    1. Happy Birthday Natasha!

      Mine is this Sunday and I just heard that some people have them every year. I think some people have far too many of them.

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    2. Have a resplendent trip around the sun, mend well, and all that jazz. . .

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    3. Happy Birthday, Natasha. I -- and others I am sure -- are thankful for your presence at Blainesville.

      LegoOrBetterYetBonAnniversaire!

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    4. What!? Are we supposed to bring presents?

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    5. Happy Birthday to you, SDB. Thanks everyone for the bd wishes. I cannot say how nice it has been especially with this broken knee etc.

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    6. Happy birthday to you both. Once, many years ago, I forgot it was my birthday until I had to write the date on a check. When I told the cashier, she reacted with what seemed to be horror.

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  20. My birthday is coming up soon, but I won't say when just yet. I'll bring it up then.

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    1. I hope you figure out when it is before it's too late.

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    2. Maybe we could guess the date and get a prize.

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    3. I can only wish you the best of luck finding out. You've got at least 28 days, same as all the other months.

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  21. Aye, captain. Shields are up, the answer is coming into view.

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  22. It looks as if someone was snoozing through the law school lecture on accepted procedures, especially the one about a lawyer not asking a question he doesn't know the answer of.

    I suspect the plural fits better.

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  23. SDB: My experiences, those of several friends and research indicate that second and third opinions are more necessary in ophthalmology than in any other field.

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    1. Thanks for the info. I have had four opinions that all concur and it was obvious to me what they were all telling me was true.

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    2. I should add that my ophthalmologist really cares about his pupils.

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    3. I saw that one coming.

      Just because you're all wet doesn't make you an expert at aqueous humor.

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    4. Pupils are both male & female and go to school. Is that an intentional giveaway?

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    5. No, ron.

      jan, no worries as long as they keep an eye on me.

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    6. Speaking of lenses reminds me of the shaggy-dog story about three brothers who inherited parcels of land from their father and wanted to combine them into one ranch. They didn't know what to name their ranch until their mother suggested: "Focus -- it's where the mourning sons raise meat."

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  24. A SEAHORSE: The male of this fish species has a pouch into which the female deposits dozens to thousands of eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs and broods them for two to four weeks, and then expels the hatchlings through a series of muscular contractions. It thus appears to function as both "man" and "woman", and, being a fish, schools with other seahorses. (I have a feeling that this isn't the same answer that others have gotten.)

    > There something not quite right about open-ended puzzles like this...

    Somthing fishy going on...

    > Present tense of a shop tool.

    (Phonetically.) Saw horse -> see horse.

    > I just realized that this line of banter has a tenuous connection to my answer to this week's puzzle.

    The ubiquitous eye chart is named for its developer, Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen. A snell is a line attached to a fish hook (or the knot used to attach it).

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  25. I am both man and woman too, and go to school as good boys do...

    Blue gropers (not to be confused with groupers) are found in the coastal waters of southern Australia and distinguished by the bright blue coloring of the adult males.

    All blue gropers begin life as females. As they mature, they go through an initial phase, in which they may be male or female, before developing their adult coloring.

    Typically you will only find one or two male blue gropers in an area, with a larger number of female gropers. Should the dominant male blue groper die, the largest female will grow, change color and sex, and become the dominant male.

    And being fish, they travel and congregate in schools.

    I know this is not the intended answer – too long and geeky among other things. And I doubt that the sociosexual behavior of this species was even known at the time the riddle was written. I just think it’s a fun fact. Maybe I’ll get the “most ingenious” booby prize. Besides, I already have one Morning Edition lapel pin, I really don’t need two :)

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  26. chair
    A chairman or chairwoman is often referred to simply as the chair. When good boys go to school, they are seated in chairs, whereas the naughty ones are relegated to a stool in the corner, and made to wear a silly hat.
    I think that answer is ingenious; then again, I thought putting that frog in the teacher's desk drawer was pretty clever, too.

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  27. "This 19th century puzzle? A _______ is actually a ____." referred to "A seahorse is actually a fish." I thought of seahorses and other fish that have both sexes. A seahorse has both sexes sequentially. Other fish like cuddlefish (?) have them at the same time. . .But they all go to school in the ocean together, right?

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    1. Similar to my answer, a clownfish (my granddaughter's favorite, because of "Finding Nemo". Clownfish start as male (when they are young and "going to school"). A colony has one female for breeding. The female changed from a male when the prior female died.

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  28. The Mona Lisa. Composite female model and da Vinci self portrait. Permanent home is The Louvre which has been an Academie or Ecole and components of schooling in arts and other subjects. But I expect the "I's" will have it.

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  29. There are lots of potential answers - physical beings such as student, teacher, principal (with the homophone principle).

    And abstract notions such as experience, knowledge, learning, wisdom, etc.

    I didn't enter any of these, but I am curious about the historic answer.

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  30. From what I can tell, I though this is the answer:

    The man and woman's name is I
    Their son's the same and so good by.

    I could be wrong but this was not a fun puzzle this week.

    See at the bottom of page #153

    http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015021269512;view=1up;seq=169;skin=mobile

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  31. Dolphin – "Dol" from Dolly, a woman's name + "Phin" from Phineas, a man's name; dolphins swim in schools.

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  32. Multiple Answers
    There are a number of fish species which are hermaphrodites. Among the better known are the snook, clown fish, wrasse, angelfish, grouper, goby, parrot fish, and sea bass. As fish swim in schools, any one of them would fit the riddle’s requirements for being, “…man and woman too…” and going, “…to school.”

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  33. The answer Will chose was...ruler

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    1. That's interesting, because I sent in the "factual" answer, plus said how I found that answer unsatisfying, and preferred "ruler" (and explained why - ruler being either man or woman as a monarch or governor, and ruler being an instrument of measurement used at school). Congrats, Berf, if you were the person called! --Margaret G.

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    2. If WS picked RULER as the intended, or even possible, answer, I don't understand his reasoning. I agree a ruler can be either man or woman, but neither they nor the measuring instrument go to school as good boys do. BOGUS!

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    3. Yes, and thanks.

      Given the context of the 18th century, I can see why a ruler would be carried to school. There were 700 "correct" entries, and not surprisingly if this answer was touted on blogs.

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  34. Replies
    1. Did they have school buses in the 18th century?

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  35. Limerick “The Teacher”

    I am both man and woman too,
    And go to school as good boys do.
    So you may also learn,
    The tools to help you earn,
    All that life has in store for you.


    Since Will presented it as from a book of poems I continued to the answer in poetic form.
    Nothing was said about it being REBUS, and I rarely take public transit anyway.

    Lousy puzzle in my opinion.

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    Replies
    1. Change "you" to "I/me" and then the limerick becomes "The Pupil" the answer you gave away earlier...

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  36. Yes, I went with the printed but unsatisfying answer of "I", and hinted towards it with the "eye" banter. Also, the 'original' version began the second line with "I" again rather than "And"

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  37. The Clownfish is both male & female (Sequential Hermaphroditism) and can be found in schools. In Finding NEMO, NEMO was a clownfish that went to school.

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    1. Not sure Finding NEMO would be the inspiration of an 1800's puzzle...

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    2. The clownfish existed long before NEMO. It is just interesting what Disney did with it. Click on NEMO above.

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  38. Maybe "male" and "female would work with the various fishy answers, but even in 18whatever nobody called them man and woman.
    Teacher seems a good answer.
    There are some worthy "ruler" riddles but this ain't one.

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    Replies
    1. I agree.

      I too considered the fish route, but fish do not go to school; they are in school. Should one leave the school it would become a Happy Meal. Also fish are not man or woman.

      As for pupil; they are not man or woman either, but male and female.

      I also thought of a coach driver, but there were no female coach drivers back then. Just like Saudi Arabia today, huh?

      As for ruler being the answer; I doubt very much most kids would have their own ruler. Plastic wasn't even invented back then. What would they even use them for? To measure the competence of their teacher?

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  39. I liked RULERS, hinted at by "accepted procedures",rules. The plural seemed to fit better than the singular if the "I" of the puzzle meant "I, the answer".

    And yes, I went here for the answer:

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=19212821

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  40. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015006991296;view=1up;seq=737
    Original rebus is at this site: The London Magazine, Dec. 1759 page 677. It is written with the I at the left side of the first two sentences and the second sentence starts with I. The first sentence starts with the I at the left side.

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    1. The capital I is as long vertically as both sentences.

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  41. I went in a non-fish, non-monarch direction: HIStory teacHER, with the first three letters indicating a masculine pronoun and the last three letters a feminine pronoun.

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    1. I like that one. But thinking more I doubt they had specialized teachers back in those days, but more likely one teacher for all regular subjects.

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    2. Another riddle:

      There is a word in the English language in which the first two letters signify a male, the first three letters signify a female, the first four letters signify a great man, and the whole word a great woman. What's the word?
      HE, HER, HERO, HEROINE. They all go to, and are taught in, school...

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    3. Wasn't the third one the Earl of Sandwich?

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  42. Will stated there was no answer published. I wonder if he knew about the original publication of this Rebus and that the answer was published too. Or...was he just misleading the listeners.

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    1. I keep reading about the answer being printed, but I have looked at your link and several others and cannot find the actual answer or do not get it. Could you please post the actual printed answer in unambiguous prose? Thanks in advance.

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  43. The original second sentence states"I go to school as good boys do."

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  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Thank you, Bryan, for posting that. I had seen it earlier, after I submitted my answer, but it did not make much sense to me, and it still doesn't. I also saw other references to what they said were the actual answer, but they too did not work for me. I still think either Teacher or Teachers is the only answer that fits all the requirements.

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    3. "U STOW" is not related to the puzzle. The bottom of most pages of the 1760 London Magazine shows the first word of the next page, in this case, "STOW." I think it's a reader's aid for both as a check that you've turned to the correct page and as a peek-ahead for more fluent reading out loud.

      The "U" seems to be the printer's page numbering for the old "quarto" pages. Two pages later, there's a "U2." Six pages after that, there's a "V," etc. The "U" would have been at the bottom right of the full size quarto sheet and the "U2" at the bottom right on the reverse side.

      I first thought of "fellow," but the word clearly was not used for women in 1803. I sent in "ruler," figuring it fit the standard of puzzles back then. In 1803, puzzles didn't have to be very delightful, after all--just more delightful than dysentery, smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, consumption, and gout.

      "I" for an answer makes sense, as others have noted, with the typography of the 1759 London puzzle, because the answer of the rebus is the first letter of every line, making it a doubly funny, sort of. However, that doesn't work for the typography in the 1803 Boston Weekly. My hunch is that, in 1803 America, the intended answer was "ruler."

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    4. Are you sure U2 might not have been a spy plane?

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  46. I prefer this:
    Eye am both man and woman two, and go to school as good boys do.
    I am a pupil.
    Taking license with homonyms should be no bother. :)

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  47. I hope this Sunday's puzzle is better than this current week's. I think we are all correct since supposedly there is no right answer. This was just not a 'classic' Will Shortz puzzle selection!

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    1. It is a straightforward word puzzle involving some math/position of letter in the alphabet. Sadly, there are at least 4 correct answers.

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  48. ...and the "oo" in too, school & good suggest a pair of eyes.

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    1. Al, you and I have both entered the realm of overthinking now. (Blainesville is a safe-space for overthinking, thankfully.) I say kudos (with the "s" overthinkingly pronounced as a Greek sigma and not zeta's zzz) to you for seeing "oo" as a pair of eyes. That could even make sense in the pre-Freudian world of 1803.

      Your observation made my brainstem see something else that Freud would approve of. I say this with multiple humilities. We go to school to keep "abreast" of our world and a space inserted after the first letter applies to both sexes.

      My brainstem has never led me aright.

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    2. But wouldn't Freud have said, "Sometimes abreast is just a breast"?

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    3. Touché! I say that with no overthinking allusion to groping.

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    4. Touché! YES

      Touchy! NO

      (You can probably tell I'm groping on this one.)

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    5. Careful guys, too much gropethink can only lead to trouble...

      To the puzzle, as the original 1759 answer was "I", "I" must retract my early statement about the "clever" Brits.

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  49. I just uploaded Puzzleria! a few hours ago.

    We have a great collegiate football rivalry puzzle created by patjberry. That’s all the reason you need to visit us.

    But there are also:
    1. A Canada puzzle
    2. A fast food menu item puzzle
    3. A biblical puzzle
    4. A current entertainment event puzzle with a predatory twist
    5. Three “Ripping Off Shortz” puzzles, along with my explanation about why I think “pupil” is the best answer to Will’s offering this week
    6. A palindromic big game/crying critter puzzle.

    LegoPleaseDropByForABite(WeDon’tBite)

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  50. I think there must be somewhere over 1000 Sunday puzzles in the history of this endeavor.
    So my putting it in the lowest 10% (see above) now seems generous.
    I can't think of 20 or even 10 worse challenges, which puts it in the lowest 1% or 2%.
    When has there been less agreement as to an "answer?"
    I think there are four or more offerings with serious backing.
    If I have read the comments right, Berf (a first time poster?) was the on-air contestant and told us Wee Willy wanted "ruler."
    A discovered contemporary answer seems to be "I."
    I think Lego is going for "pupil."
    SDB and I are leaning toward "teacher."
    There are various fishy offerings.
    Sunday's show will be the perfect time for there to be a doctor in the house, one of enigmatology of course.
    I think all of us should be comfortable with his precise and brilliant explanation. But I'll be surprised if it happens.

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    1. To be fair, the Master stated plainly that this was an experiment and not a typical puzzle:
      "I'd like to see if the collective brainpower of NPR listeners can be brought to bear to clear up this mystery."
      I'm easily flattered, but I think Will Shortz is coy only in puzzle design. The Master enlisted our help with this archeological shard of a puzzle. I had fun and I'll try to help again the next time he asks.

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    2. It was fun, Dan Axtell, and it had us bantering and exchanging ideas more than in awhile. . .

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  51. Replies
    1. What I like about Barnes_Durco's "hymnal" solution is the contemporaneousness. I suspect that "Nellie" is the most common girl's name in 19th century songs (or a close second to Mary). And, in 1803, if a household had two books, the second one was a hymnal, which was a small book of sacred poetry with no music. The minister would announce the hymn and, separately, the hymn tune that matched the meter. For "Amazing Grace" in 1803, it was most likely "Auld Lang Syne" for the tune. 4-3-4-3 is called "common meter" for a reason. ("House on the Rising Sun" is most famously the old tune that goes with Amazing Grace.)

      I digress, but my point is that a hymnal was a small, important, affordable book. Thus him+Nell=hymnal is a delightful answer in hindsight, especially as we approach the "Year of Hindsight," 2020.

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  52. It is kind of neat how everyone has a different take on this. I think we have this pretty well covered, which is what WS had in mind. (I still favor "I", though) Aye,aye!!

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  53. I submitted ``I.'' I don't see how ``ruler'' naturally involves a rebus (I do see how it's a man, a woman, and goes to school). But ``pupil'' to ``eye'' to ``I'' does seem, to me, the kind of thing one might be expected to deduce from the riddle. Granted Will did not say that the riddle is a rebus. But his original source does, so if he's looking for a solution to the riddle as originally presented, seems to me it should be a rebus.

    Here's what I submitted: My answer is ``I.'' The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman's Monthly Intelligencer, Vol. XXVIII, For the Year 1759, page 677, has the rebus: ``I am both man and woman too, And go to school as good boys do.'' That journal, Vol XXIX, For the Year 1760, page 153, has the solution: ``The man and woman's name is I, Their son's the same, and so good by.'' To expand on the published answer, ``[I] go to school'' suggests ``pupil'' which suggests ``eye,'' a homophone for ``I.'' I think this is the chain that makes the riddle a rebus, because rebuses are supposed to involve a picture that suggests a word, often phonetically. A URL that will get you to either the 1759 or 1760 volume is http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/serial?id=londonmag. For either volume, select the volume and put the page number in the ``Jump'' box at the top, and this will take you to the proper page. The rebus and the solution are at the very bottom of the respective pages. These predate the 1803 book ``The Citizen Poets of Boston: A Collection of Forgotten Poems, 1789-1820.'' I do not know whether there are earlier appearances of this rebus.

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  54. Next week's challenge: Take the word EASY: Its first three letters — E, A and S — are the fifth, first, and nineteenth letters, respectively, in the alphabet. If you add 5 + 1 + 19, you get 25, which is the value of the alphabetical position of Y, the last letter of EASY.

    Can you think of a common five-letter word that works in the opposite way — in which the value of the alphabetical positions of its last four letters add up to the value of the alphabetical position of its first letter?

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  55. I've got three answers, two of which appear together in a term used in information display.

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  57. I have one answer that I don't like very much, but I like this puzzle.

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  59. Where there's a will there's a way

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  60. It all seems a little fuzzy to me maybe if I went back to school

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  61. I admit I wrote a little awk script to solve this one. But what was really embarrassing was when I told my wife the puzzle, and she got this distant look in her eyes, counted on her fingers for a second or two, and just announced one of the answers.

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