Sunday, October 16, 2022

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 16, 2022): Confrontation or Cooperation

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 16, 2022): Confrontation or Cooperation
Q: Think of a pair of two-syllable words that are pronounced the same, except one is accented on the first syllable while the other is accented on the second. The word that's accented on the first syllable is associated with confrontation, while the word that's accented on the second syllable is associated with cooperation. What words are these?
This is a real chestnut of a puzzle.

Edit: In Britain, children each select a "conker" (horse chestnut) as their own, attach a string and then take turns swinging at their opponent's conker until one child's conker breaks and the surviving conker is declared the victor.
A: CONQUER, CONCUR

198 comments:

  1. I have *an* answer but I don't know if it's *the* answer. Can we say how many letters in the word?

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    1. My two words have the same number of letters, but I am not certain they are the answer.

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  2. I have two possible answers, and a third that is weak, but I can use the two pronunciations in a couple of sentences to make it work. None of the three made me say, Aha! That's it!

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

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    1. Ah, that's helpful! Thanks! Will cogitate a little more.

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  4. I think I've got it, but I'm going to think about it further before I submit.

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  5. A certain tense of the first word puts me in a certain state.

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    1. That's my pair too. Excellent clue!
      (On pronunciation: one pair of vowels doesn't really match, because of the stress, in most dialects... but they are pretty close.)

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    2. At least in my dialect one pair of consonants doesn't really match either.

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    3. Oooh, right, I see that. Or, uh, hear it. But I think in mine they do match.

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    4. I think I have the same word(s). The first vowel is definitely pronounced differently for each word.

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  6. Pretty much certain I came upon the intended answer. Sweet puzzle.

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  7. I have two answers, one with the two words spelled the same, and one spelled differently.

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  8. I'm declaring that I've got it.

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  9. Tough one. Heteronyms or homophones...

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    1. heteronyms:
      PROduce = fruit & vegetables
      proDUCE = to make
      homophones:
      muscle
      mussel
      aloud
      allowed

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  10. Pretty sure I have it. Does one word perhaps anagram to a certain cultural institution?

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    1. Neither of the words I got anagram to anything that I'm aware of.

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    2. My two words are spelled the same, but evidently that's not the only answer; see posts above from TS Quint and ron. Swapping the positions of two letters in my answer yields a verb that I don't think names any cultural institution, but describes an action that is crucially important to our survival. The letters of my answer can also be rearranged to name, in two words, an organization that does have cultural significance, but the name is a shortened version of the full name and the second word is an abbreviation. Sounds like we probably have different answers!

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    3. Yep, my two words are spelled differently. One anagrams to an organization with cultural significance, the other to a certain species.

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    4. It seems more likely yours is the intended answer, since the puzzle doesn't say the words are spelled the same. Also, my words aren't strictly "pronounced the same" because in one the first syllable is pronounced with a short vowel while in the other it is pronounced with a schwa, though I suspect that is the case with most if not all two-syllable homophones with different accenting. Finally, it might be a stretch to say my first word is "associated with confrontation," though it certainly falls within the general idea of opposition.

      Got to go try to figure out your words.

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    5. (And I should add that the cultural institution one is also an abbreviated version of the name!)

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    6. I now have what I think is the intended answer, based on Blaine's clue. The words are spelled differently. However, they don't appear to satisfy your anagram criterion as far as I can tell. So I intend to keep at it for now.

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    7. Quite impressive if you end up with three good answers!

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    8. Actually, even the one that fits Blaine's clue is a bit flawed if pronounced the way most online sources present it (the schwa issue again). Perhaps your answer doesn't have that problem. Or maybe your answer is the same as my second one and I just haven't figured out your anagrams yet!

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    9. There are definitely some mild schwa shenanigans (schwa-nanigans?) happening in mine!

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    10. So I was thinking of "ammo" (confrontation) and the Latin word "amo" (cooperation)—which anagram to "MoMA" and "moa." Probably not the intended answer, but I think it works!

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    11. Clever! No way I would have guessed those. But is "amo" pronounced with the second syllable stressed? According to the site I looked at, "If the word has only two syllables, the accent always falls on the first syllable. For example, amo is pronounced as AH-moe, not ah-MOE."

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    12. Oh dear, then perhaps I should have kept looking! Years of reciting "ah-MO, ah-MAS, ah-MAT" really coded it into my head as iambic.

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    13. Looks like you're not the only one! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLrXz9XoQqg

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  11. I have an answer. But judging from the clues, some answers might vary.

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  12. I believe I have it. I had to look through a *lot* of lists to finally find them.

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  13. Rearrange the letters in the even positions within the word. You get a term with many definitions, one of them a sports term Americans might not know.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Rob, I like your sports term clue and agree Americans might not know it, but note that the plural of the name of the sport is an expression most Americans probably know.

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    3. I now think that's not the intended answer based on Blaine's clue, but I still like your clue, which works for my original answer.

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  14. While I don't object to the object of this puzzle, I find it a little uncomfortable at times (assuming I have the answer -- some of the discussion above makes me suspect maybe I don't).

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    1. That's how I feel. One word popped into my mind immediately & I sent it in, but it sure doesn't fit Blaine's "chestnut of a puzzle" remark, or a few other hints.

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    2. After I posted the above, I came up with a different answer that does fit Blaine's hint. Interestingly, it also relates to a Big 10 school.

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  15. Take a word with three syllables associated with cooperation. Change the stress to a different syllable to get a word (with a different spelling) that ideally is also associated with cooperation, but in practice is typically associated with discord.

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  16. "Think of a pair of two-syllable words that are pronounced the same, except one is accented on the first syllable while the other is accented on the second."
    My first thought was that that is impossible. Subsequent thoughts are the same.
    It violates the definition of "pronunciation."
    Perhaps an example using any other two words would help.

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    1. "defect" (the verb and the noun).

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    2. Pronounced the same EXCEPT for the stress!

      I don't think I understand what it is you don't understand.

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    3. Another flawed puzzle. If the words are pronounced the same then the accent is the same for both.

      MJ, I worked around it but agree that the phrasing is off.

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    4. I don't get it.
      The words aren't pronounced the same. They're pronounced the same *except* for the stress.

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  17. My brother has the same first and last name as two famous people (both deceased). My brother is not famous and not deceased.

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  18. I think this is a fine puzzle, although I would not expect anyone here to agree with me.

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    1. Never mind! Disregard this "clue"; I just found I needed another answer.

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    2. My only thought was that it might be TMI to concur.

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  19. What is puzzling me is, does each word have to be spelled exactly the same?

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    1. In my answer, they are spelled the same but also each first syllable is pronounced differently. So I’m not sure I’m actually correct. The wording of the puzzle is, once again, confusing.

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  20. I solved this puzzle while driving on the road.

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    1. That makes me want to ask where you usually drive, but I will restrain myself and not ask.

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    2. When 2 routes share the same road, it is called a concurrency.

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  21. Cap - it's two different words, spelled differently.

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    1. That's not true of my answer, but it's evident from the posts above that people here have at least two different answers.

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    2. I also have two differently spelled words...

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    3. I've now changed my answer to one with differently spelled words that I am pretty sure is the intended answer based on Blaine's clue. I think my original answer still works, but it doesn't fit the "confrontation" element as well as the second one.

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  22. Thanks Chuck. It was chivalrous of you to respond to my question

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  24. Replies
    1. No, but I have driven on roads with concurrent routes.

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  25. If my words are correct, the second syllable word can be anagrammed to spell the surname of a certain shady, but interesring music industry insider.

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    1. Tooooooo many options. My guess anagrams with a two-word phrase meaning "demonstrate derision."

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    2. Ohhhhhhh, and, by the way, both of my words are spelled alike, yet accented dif'-fer-ent"-ly.

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  26. Once again I understand Blaine's comment - woohoo! I feel like I'm on the top of the world! --Margaret G.

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  27. I have 3 possible answers. The first and second I got while still in bed. The third I got while walking in the cemetery on this clear blue sky 81 degree day!

    I am fairly certain my 3rd answer is the intended one. It also goes perfectly with Blaine's clue. However, I do not pronounce these two words the same. Not quite.

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    1. Ok, I decided to google "chestnut" and one of my words and now I get the reference. So apparently Blaine and I agree! :)

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  28. I have two sets of differently spelled homophones. One set appears to agree with Blaine, but I like the other set better

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  29. If this is an argument between people who write poetry about the best sport shoes ever and people who dislike poetry. the Converse-ation is over!

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  30. My first word is consistent with several of the posted hints (including Blaine’s, Cap's and WW’s) but it contains an inconvenient consonant that does not appear in my second word. Ugh!

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    1. I don't see the problem. It may be inconsonantquential.

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    2. That's better than a vowel movement.

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  31. What happened to Natasha? Did Putin conscript her to join his no ball war effort?

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    1. SDB: Thanks for asking about me. I just had nothing to share for the last few weeks. I solved the puzzle, submitted read the blog. Trying to get caught up with my life after my fall and rehab. I still solve wordle, phrazle, and nerdle most days. Cannot solve today's puzzle. Not sure what is wanted and no time to waste. Hope you are fine.

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  32. Under the puzzle’s Submit Your Answer link, it still reads, “If you know the answer to the two-week challenge….”

    The submission day, date, and time, however, are correct.

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  33. Well, per WS, accent is not part of pronunciation! How odd!

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  34. Well I found one that works for the second-syllable-accented word, but the first-syllable-accented word only works if you think of threshing and harvesting as “confronting” your crops. Still, it made me smile. I think finding the real answer will take another day or two.

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  35. OK, think of a three-letter verb that can mean "to add to" and a four-letter word that can mean "to deduct from". Put them together to get a seven-letter noun. I'll let you decide what it means.

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    1. If you PAD your expense account, and your employer doesn't just outright fire you, they might DOCK your salary. A paddock is something like a corral, so "OK" was a hint. Maybe you see enough of a connection to Blaine's "chestnut" and maybe you don't. My original intent was a horse of a different color.
      Turns out there's an author/speaker/former palliative care chaplain by the name of Joan Paddock Maxwell. And what did Maxwell do to Joan?https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/conk
      Congratulations! You have now earned your degree in Pataphysics.

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  36. I forgot that Will Shortz is to pronunciation as Lucy is to placekicking.
    I think I will set aside five minutes a day to work on this until
    Thursday.

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  37. I only just now learned that Horace Rumpole referred to the president of the People's Republic of China as Xi, Who Must Be Obeyed.

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  38. I wouldn't stoop so low as to leave an obvious hint.

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  39. "I wouldn't assent to my boss's stupid plan, so that assent me a pink slip."

    Still working on this puzzle...

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    1. I’m also still working on the puzzle, but remain fixated on the near miss that produced so many false positives when cross referenced with others’ posts.

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    2. I hope from this assuages earned were sent?

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    3. In the same vein, SDB, in a static line jump, you get dressed after you clip in, because you have to do that before you're decent.

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    4. Usually they will assend to altitude fully attired and then butt out.

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    5. Where I jumped, if you dissented too much you got grounded.

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  40. I think the government needs to commit more funding to the Center for NEO Studies before some wayward comet annihilates us.

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    1. Wayward NEOs are our friends. Where would we be if that big one hadn't taken care of the dinosaurs for us?

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    2. Maybe the next one will take care of us for the dolphins.

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    3. For that matter, why sweat climate change? Think of how grateful we are (or ought to be) to plants for all that oxygen they polluted Earth's original atmosphere with! Whatever we do to the environment is going to make whoever is the dominant species 100 million years from now very happy.

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  41. I'm curious -- does everyone here solve and submit an answer every week? If you decide not to solve, what factors into your decision? For example, I have given up on puzzles involving phonetics because they tend to reflect regional dialects in which Mary, Barry, and ferry all rhyme.

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    1. Well, again, I have not received any response gmail from NPR in weeks, so...As far as answering every week, I have missed four so far this year. That is, I just couldn't come up with the right answer. My weakness, I've discovered, is product brand names. I'm surprised, but those frequently seem to throw me. The fourth one I missed was the Michelob/Michelin one. I don't use either product, and notice how it involved a pronunciation as well as two brand names. But my real "pronunciation" pet peeve puzzle was that one a year or two ago, "John Wayne, Juan Jane." I got the answer all right, just that the name Juan, correctly pronounced by a Chicano, is not like the W in the Anglo name Wayne. I believe in that puzzle, we were supposed to switch the initial letter sounds.

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    2. @Musinglink:

      The MICHELOB/MICHELIN one wasn't your fault. Will admitted that MICHELOB isn't found in supermarkets everywhere, but he didn't admit that MICHELIN isn't really a product name. That puzzle was just incorrectly clued all around.

      Interestingly, that wasn't the first time I thought he screwed up a puzzle involving brand names. There was also the April 4, 2021 puzzle in which he wanted a "popular vehicle brand" that could be manipulated to get another one. In fact, the intended brand was CIVIC, but even Wikipedia agreed that a "vehicle brand" should be a make rather than a model. It seems that Will likes to shoehorn things into the same category even if they don't really belong.

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  42. Interesting question. Having been burned by puzzles involving pronunciation (e.g., Erin/Aaron and clarinet/Claire), I really should avoid these, but I persist, thinking this time will be different. I do skip the ones that cannot be solved without perusing long lists (even though Will has said on the air that he offers only puzzles that do not require lists). I also tend to pass if it seems clear that the only path to the solution involves mindless trials of various permutations and combinations.

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  43. I'm pretty sure I have the same answer as Blaine, per Blaine's indirect hint. Here's another: the sound of cats' feet coming after a snail.

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  44. Wow! Answer just came to me. I was not even working on the puzzle as did not understand the rules. I worked backwards from the answer and it fit all the parameters including Blaine's hint. I suggest the author of the puzzle revise the directions. Maybe just wants it to be confusing, though.

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  45. Chestnut? If you take the letters in the words that differ and move the last one one letter later in the alphabet, you get a different tree.

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    1. Wow, that's really beautiful.
      Only I think what you've said isn't right. I know what you intended, Jan, and I can't think of a way to phrase the question that gets your result without giving away too much.

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    2. Yeah, I know it's ambiguous at best, but catch my drift, if you can.

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  46. "take the letters in the words that differ".
    Obviously, I have a different result.
    I'm thinking that the PM didn't think this one through.

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    1. Does not work for me either, MJ. I am sure my answer is correct.

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  47. By the way, if you live in the bay area, the Guo Pei exhibit is amazing. I walked too despite hip fracture two months ago. So happy.

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  48. According to Merriam-Webster, the two words are not pronounced the same except for accent. Does anyone have a dictionary that says otherwise?

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    1. As I said above, one of the vowel pairs is not quite the same in standard dialects. (I checked the OED and M-W and they agree on this.)
      There's also a difference in one of the consonants in *some* dialects -- I hadn't noticed this until John mentioned it, but it's verified by both dictionaries (which also give standard pronunciations in which the consonants do match).

      When you unstress a vowel it nearly always changes. Even 'refer' and 'reefer' have slightly different first vowels, I was surprised to find.

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  49. I spent too much time thinking they were identical words like produce/produce. Coming to Blainesville informed that one of my first thoughts was actually / probably correct.

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    1. Huh, Merriam-Webster and the OED say that 'produce' also has slightly different vowels in its two stress patterns (noun and verb).

      Oh wait, you meant identical in spelling!

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  50. Never mind my clues above. Apparently the answer I thought I had doesn't work. According to Merriam-Webster, there is a difference in pronunciation other than the syllable stress.

    I did find another answer that works in terms of pronunciation, at least according to Merriam-Webster. I don't have a subscription to the OED (is it worth it?), but according to the (free) Oxford Learner's Dictionary, my new answer does not work.

    I don't know why two reputable-seeming dictionaries would not quote the pronunciation the same way, and which of the two—if either—I should accept as authoritative.

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    1. Merriam-Webster is an American dictionary. The OED generally gives an 'American' pronunciation and a 'British' one, and frequently gives more than one of each because there's regional variation. So probably neither dictionary you checked is 'authoritative'; they're just describing somewhat different dialects.

      (I like being able to check the OED online, but I don't know if it's worth it, because I don't know how much it costs! I have access through my employer, a university.)

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    2. The OED is British, with an Amerikan offshoot version, which I have. MW reports current usage at the top. OED begins with when a word began and works forward. It can take pages with some words. That explains why the full OED is so enormous. Not the online version. Again, it is well for us all to remember that dictionaries do not make the rules; they report the usage.

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  51. Maybe I get Blaine's clue. Is it linked to a Holiday?

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    1. I will not attempt to answer this question prior to tomorrow's deadline, but that being said I am now wondering if one fails to find his Easter eggs, does he end up with egg on his face? Explain, I'll wait.

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    2. This is getting to be "interesting." I checked the Wiktionary entry, and it looks like Blaine's answer is the one I ended up discarding because, per Merriam-Webster, it doesn't meet the terms of the puzzle. 😕

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  52. Yeesh, I finally got it. I knew I wouldn't be fully satisfied because different stresses inherently mean the pronunciations won't quite match, and that's indeed true here, but I am sure I have the intended answer. As is often the case with this sort of puzzle, it's a connection I've made in my own head once upon a time but couldn't bring to mind easily when it "matters."

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  53. 1. CONquer (kŏng′kər) → to overcome, to confront.

    ConCUR (kən-kûr′) → to agree, to cooperate.

    Blaine's clue: a chestnut tree is called a CONKER → CONQUER → CONCUR.

    2. COMbat (kŏm′băt) → a fight, a confrontation.

    comBAT (kəm-băt′) → cope with, cooperate.

    Of course each pair of words are not pronounced the same!

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    1. Nice to see a mention of combat/combat. That was my entry.

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  54. CONQUER, CONCUR

    I was trying to make “conquered” and “concord” work (close, but…) when my better half, hearing me, said, “What about “conquer” and “concur”? And I concurred.

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  55. I submitted CONCUR and CONQUER.

    I don't think the vowels in syllable two are pronounced precisely the same. But I have to think that's the intended answer. Interested to hear what others did.

    My clue was that I'm pretty much certain I came upon the intended answer. Sweet puzzle.

    Just cause it had a lot of C's.

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  56. CONQUER, CONCUR

    > Chestnut? If you take the letters in the words that differ and move the last one one letter later in the alphabet, you get a different tree.

    Quercus is the genus of oaks.

    > Yeah, I know it's ambiguous at best, but catch my drift, if you can.

    Do you concur?

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  57. I ended up submitting: DIFFER — DEFER.

    The pronunciation (except for the syllable stress) is the same, at least according to Merriam-Webster—although not according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary.

    My clues were:
    I don’t know why two reputable-seeming dictionaries would not quote the pronunciation the same way (i.e., why they would “differ” from each other), and which of the two—if either—I should accept as authoritative (i.e., to which of the two I should “defer”).

    I wish to thank Crito and SDB for offering their takes on that anyway.

    My original answer (not submitted) was: CONQUER — CONCUR. My clues were:
    I’m declaring that I’ve got it. Similar to “declaring victory” (you know…after you conquer something).
    I think so, too. (As in: I concur.)

    I eventually discarded this answer because, never mind syllable stress, these two are not pronounced the same (according to Merriam-Webster and other sources).

    I never got Blaine’s “chestnut” clue, until Enya_and_WeirdAl_fan’s mention of the “chestnut” Wiktionary post. If I understand correctly, that was an oblique reference to the mention of “conker” in that post (a homophone of “conquer”).

    Will it turn out CONQUER – CONCUR was the intended answer after all? In any case, an unsatisfying puzzle.

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  58. CONQUER, CONCUR. My hint said the answer relates to a Big 10 school. As Blaine’s hint illustrated, “conker” is a British term for the nut of the horse chestnut tree. In North America a term for the nut is “buckeye.”

    CONVERSE, CONVERSE. I think this works, but admittedly “converse” doesn’t connote confrontation as strongly as “conquer” does.

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  59. Tonight's Puzzleria! features four very clever puzzles created by skydiveboy. They appear in his "skydiversions" feature.
    Also on this week's menu are a mess of Riffing Off Shortz And Edelheit Slices of puzzletry titled "Decide & concur, divide & Conquer.
    We upload at Midnight PDT.
    LegoLodi

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  60. I wrote, “Rearrange the letters in the even positions within the word. You get a term with many definitions, one of them a sports term Americans might not know.” CONVERSE yields OVER, which in cricket means a sequence of balls bowled by a bowler from one end of the pitch, after which another bowler takes over from the other end.

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  61. As with many of Will's pronunciation based puzzles I find this one, "UNSOUND."

    When compared to the classic homonym sets:
    Pare/Pair/Pear,
    Leek/Leak,
    Steak/Stake, or,
    Peas/Peace/Piece,
    I find it hard, neigh impossible to see how Conquer and Concur qualify as homonyms.

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  63. I forgot to mention that I came up with two alternate answers prior to getting the intended answer which I submitted. I got all 3 just thinking and not referring to lists, etc. My first alt answer is: APPEND & UPEND. My second alt answer is: INSIGHT & INCITE.

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    1. "Incite" and "insight" were the first answers I looked closely at, but I rejected them because the accented syllables were the reverse of the puzzle's criteria.

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    2. Those are clever, but do they meet the puzzle criteria? At least according to the sources I consulted, in the first alt answer, both words stress the second syllable, while the second pair seems backwards. "The word that's accented on the first syllable is associated with confrontation, while the word that's accented on the second syllable is associated with cooperation."

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    3. I agree. I came up with those 2 while still in bed. Later, while walking in the cemetery I thought more and came up with the intended answer.

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    4. I really like DIFFER and DEFER. That's slick.

      And I also enjoy INSIGHT and INCITE though it's not as "right" since the accent is the CONVERSE of the puzzle's instruction set.

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    5. Good ideas often emanate from cemetaries, as illustrated in the rash of recent articles about the DNA studies from East Smithfield Cemetery in London.

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  64. OK< I was wrong, but I sent in ARMOR and AMORE

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    1. Cap, your answer was my near miss! As for the inconvenient “r” in armor, I was almost willing to overlook it since, as a native New Yawka, I’ve heard the word pronounced without it. (I did search the internet and found “Armoor”, a town in India formed by the (cooperative?) merger of two villages, but too obscure to be the intended answer.)

      What was frustrating was that “amor” was compatible with at least three of this week’s posts, too many, I thought, to be coincidental:

      Blaine’s “chestnut” seemed to point to a type of armor called chestnut armor.
      WW’s use of “George” works with businessman and philanthropist George Armour.
      And your use of “chivalrous” suggested “knights in shining armor.”


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    2. Typo correction: "amor" in second paragraph should be "armor."

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    3. Lorenzo, what part of "The City" are you from? I was born and raised in Brooklyn.

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    4. Clark ap,
      I spent my first 18 years in Flushing, then 4 years in Providence at Brown, the 6 long cold years in Madison at U of W. I’ve been in Southern California since 1970.

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  65. I am glad I was able to conquer this puzzle and concur with Blaine and the others who agree.

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  66. I also came up with conquer and concur but was curious about what answer people got who said their words were spelled the same.

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    1. Nodd had conVERSE and CONverse. Remember Connie CONverse?

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  67. I had posted earlier "I'm pretty sure I have the same answer as Blaine, per Blaine's indirect hint. Here's another: the sound of cats' feet coming after a snail."
    Indeed, I did have the same answer, CONQUER & CONCUR, and in case anyone was wondering about my indirect hint, CONCH (note that the CH is pronounced like K) is a snail, and cats' feet are paws, and the sound of a pause ("uh") is often written "er" (even though it's not pronounced like that), so CONCH + ER.
    I do like DIFFER and DEFER as an alternate, though, but CONCUR strikes me as being more cooperative than DEFER.

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    1. I have the opposite thought on which is more cooperative. It seems to me that when you concur you already agree, so no cooperation is necessary, but when you defer you , well, defer to somebody else's opinion which seems more cooperative to me. I found this to be an interesting puzzle because of things like this

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  68. I went with differ/defer. Assuming the "yield" quality of defer. Webster's 11th confirms my choice as far as pronunciation of the first syllable. Not stress, of course. So to my way of thinking, differ/defer is correct.

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  69. I don't have a keyboard with the International Phonetic Alphabet, but if I did, I would show you that the second consonant sound in CONQUER is an "ng" sound, while the second consonant sound in CONCUR is an "n" sound. These words are similar sounding, but they are most definitely not "pronounced the same."

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    1. I take that as a vote for differ/defer?

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    2. I agree; I think the proper pronunciation has the first syllable of conquer as a short o while the first syllable of concur is a schwa, but I submitted those two anyway because I was pretty sure it was the intended answer.

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    3. CONCUR can also have the 'ng' sound though.
      The first vowels don't match, but I think they're very close (in my accent).

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  70. I had CONQUER/CONCUR, but I think DIFFER/DEFER is very good.

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  71. conquer, concur

    Last Sunday I said, “My brother has the same first and last name as two famous people (both deceased). My brother is not famous and not deceased.” My brother’s name is Bill Graham. One of the others was a world-famous rock concert promoter in the late 20th century. The other was a world-famous evangelist. But all of this tangential information simply leads to the _real_ object of my comment, William the Conqueror.

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  72. I kept thinking about dual vs. duel, but stopped thinking much after that. Alas, I should've furthered my thinking.

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  73. For decades now Kremlin leaders could not say enough about their leader. Next year I suspect they will be saying enough.

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  74. Did anyone watch Jeopardy yesterday? I think there was an error regarding the word multilingual.

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    1. I find the "Second Chance" play-offs refreshing and enjoyable, They do seem to have relaxed the rules a bit, however.

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  75. I went with INCITE and INSIGHT. Wow, several worthwhile responses....

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  76. I think there must be one big thing that separates puzzle lovers from non-lovers.
    Puzzle lovers say: "Wait, wait, don't tell me the answer!" Non lovers almost immediately say: "Hmm. OK whats the answer?"
    I pretty much lose interest after learning the solution, especially prematurely.
    Will Shortz has told us at least once that he doesn't make any effort to solve submitted puzzles himself, looking at the puzzle and answer together and thinking "OK."
    This is too bad for him, especially since he touts himself as Puzzlemaster. I feel sorry for him.
    I assume he looked at this week's challenge and answer he saw (I again assume) CONquer and conCUR and thought "Lookout, Sunday Edition, here it comes."
    We can only wait until Sunday to see if he recognizes all the effort his listeners (in their scores, hundreds, thousands or millions) put into their half of things.

    I am not sure any of the submitted answers meet the incredible set-up of "only differing in pronunciation by accent."
    I have a tough time trying to understand the different schemes used separate out sounds.
    I have to say that the cons in conquer and concur sound different to me. Same for converse and converse. And differ and defer don't sound alike no matter where the emphasis
    I'd say that Will needs to double the time he spends on putting out this show by spending a half hour thinking about the puzzle.

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    1. I agree, Mendo (or "concur" as Musinglink says). I thought the 'clue' (confrontation & cooperation). was weak.

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  77. The Puzzlemaster was thinking CONQUER and CONCUR, but he also likes DIFFER and DEFER (as do I). I sent him four thoughts from the group. His reply:

    Hi Ben,
    Thanks for all this.
    Very interesting.
    I’d call DIFFER/DEFER a near miss. The first vowel sound in “differ” is a short I, while the first vowel sound in “defer” is a schwa. Not quite the same.
    This might be worth mentioning on the air, tho.
    I appreciate your writing.

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    1. Excellent.
      But... he didn't notice that approximately the same problem arises for CONQUER/CONCUR!
      Huh. That's interesting. It is well known in phonetics that competent speakers can't tell you what sounds their own pronunciations include. (I guess it's possible that Will himself pronounces 'CONCUR' in. an odd way, but it seems pretty unlikely.)

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    2. Merriam-Webster was the only online source I found that had the vowel sounds the same for differ/defer. But at least that one source had it that way.

      Then again, no online source had the vowel sounds the same for conquer/concur, not to mention the ng/n difference.

      So…there's that. It's why I abandoned the conquer/concur answer, and went with differ/defer.

      This was against my intuition (which definitely favors C/C over D/D), and I will give WS that he would intuitively feel the same way.

      It's just that, if you are going to state something for a fact, and make that statement of fact a prerequisite for an answer to be judged "correct," then intuition, or subjective experience, is insufficient.

      Not good. Subpar performance by the Puzzlemaster in airing a puzzle that wasn't up to par.

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  78. I had COMbat and comBAT. Possibly a stretch but made sense to me.

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  79. This week's challenge comes from Wei-Hwa Huang, of San Jose, Calif. He notes that it's unusual for a multi-word movie title to consist entirely of words starting with vowels, none of which are the article "a." or pronoun "I." Can you name a popular movie with a five-word title — with word lengths 10, 10, 3, 2, 4 — all of which start with vowels?

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  80. This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from Wei-Hwa Huang, of San Jose, Calif. He notes that it's unusual for a multi-word movie title to consist entirely of words starting with vowels, none of which are the article "a." or pronoun "I." Can you name a popular movie with a five-word title — with word lengths 10, 10, 3, 2, 4 — all of which start with vowels?

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  81. Interesting interplay between the last two answers in the "On Air" puzzle today.

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  82. WS clearly didn't pronounce the o in "CONverse" and "conVERSE" the same.

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    1. How is CONverse associated with confrontation? I do not see why that is a solution.

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    2. WS just got this one wrong all around.

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  83. I assume the word count list--10, 10, 3, 2, 4--is in sequence; i.e., the title's first and second words have 10 letters, the third has 3, etc.

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