Thursday, January 15, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle, Sun, Jan 11, 2009 - Solution

Last Sunday's puzzle on NPR's Weekend Edition was this:
Take a very common three-letter word. Say the letters phonetically and together they'll sound like a six-letter word meaning knockout. What word is it?
I didn't solve this one until about an hour after the broadcast. With this type of puzzle, there are no easy shortcuts to the answer - you just have to keep thinking of possibilities until one seems right.

In this case, the "very common" was the most useful hint and I eventually thought of BUT, which sounds like BEAUTY when you spell it out - especially if you draw out the word to show how extremely attractive someone is.

Continuing the series of letter sound puzzles from last Sunday's post, try deciphering this - it adds yet another twist to the basic idea:
If the B mt put:
If the B. putting:
You need a hint? Try thinking about the accompanying picture.


Magdalen said...

I'm married to the Crosswordman. I was married to another Brit before Crosswordman. I've been struggling with the linguistic challenges of two countries divided by a common language for decades.

Even so, I didn't get this -- you have to be VERY British to get it. I'm just saying.

Brian Barker said...

I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

An interesting video can be seen at

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at