Thursday, February 4, 2010

NPR Puzzle 1/31/10 -- Time to Turn Out Your Bird Puns!

The puzzle from last week:

Take four words: Croquet; Lunette; Renoir; Turnstile. They are all two-syllable words, but aside from that, they all have something unusual in common: a property that virtually no other words have. What property is it?
If you haven't read all the comments on this puzzle, don't miss them -- they are fun and funny.  Thanks everyone for contributing to the amusement.

My assumption is that we're dealing with the following "rule":  All the answers are two-syllable words, where the first syllable is phonetically (sounds the same as) a single-syllable bird.  (Ross and I can never remember which homo- is "sounds the same but spelled differently" so we looked it up: homophone.)

[there's going to be a pretty picture of some loons here, as soon as Blogger stops sucking.]

Here's the list so far:


all those seem okay to me. I would disagree with

GULFPORT  because GULL isn't the first syllable; where would the F go?
NOTCHED  first off, it's not a two-syllable word, but I would argue NOTCHING isn't better because KNOT isn't the first syllable there, NOTCH is.
CHATEAU  this doesn't work for a couple reasons, first because CHAT isn't a homophone (pronounced differently but spelled the same: it's a heteronym) and second because I don't want to type the word that is.  (Scatological, don't you know.)

and there's a teensy disagreement about

HOCKEY  So what say you -- HAWK or HOCK or are they the same thing?

As I say, this week was fun from our perspective, but I can see why some commenters feel this wasn't Will Shortz's best puzzle.

I am in San Francisco over the weekend, so no less a dignitary than Crossword Man himself will fill in for me on Sunday.  Be nice to him, okay?


Anonymous said...

I signed on here this week as "anonymous" (along with some other folks, but three were mine) and had a good time.
I am looking forward to seeing how Will deals with the answer.
I have been participating in Richard Renner's sort-of-forum for several years, but just discovered this one and Blaine's this weekend.
I am afraid one puzzle I can't figure out is how to get an "identity" here or on Blaine, who doesn't allow anonimity.

Ross Beresford said...

This is Ross Beresford aka Crossword Man seeing how you could best get an identity. Rather than choosing the Anonymous option from the "Comment as:" menu, I suggest selecting Name/URL and leaving the URL blank (unless you want to mention one). That's what I did to create this comment.

Alternatively, carry on commenting as Anonymous, but add your name at the bottom of each comment so we can distinguish you from all the other Anons.

Gareth Rees said...

HAWK or HOCK or are they the same thing?

The hock–hawk vowel merger is a widespread feature of U.S. dialect, though it's better known by the name "cot–caught merger".

Crossword Man said...

Re cot-caught merger. I never knew there was a name for it! Thanks for the reference Gareth.

Mendo Jim said...

Gee, maybe a step up from anonymous!

This morning Will Shortz failed to mention that his "virtually no other words" caveat to last week's challenge may have been in error. I sent him 15 or so just to make sure.
I have to say that his self-designation as "puzzleMASTER" often seems hyperbolic

Anonymous said...

Croat / Cronin / Cronyn / crozier
rennet / rennin
roughage / roughneck / roughness

Not to mention "roughshod, which is apparently how Will Shortz rode over his weekly puzzle this time.

turnip / turnkey / turnpike