Thursday, August 18, 2011

NPR Puzzle 8/14/11 Will Shortz Has Gone to the Dogs

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a breed of dog that starts and ends with the same letter of the alphabet. Drop that letter at both ends, and if you have the right dog, the remaining letters phonetically will name some animals. What's the dog and what are the animals?
Well, I predicted this wouldn't be a happy week and I'm happy to be proven wrong.  But first, the answer.  Or rather, shall we call it the intended answer.  DACHSHUND - 2 D's = (theoretically phonetically) OXEN.

I'll go first, shall I?  I thought of dachshund, but because I was taught to say it in the Germanic manner, the "ah" sound, the aspirated "ch" (as in "ich"), and the final syllable (closer to the French "un" than "en") I did not get "oxen."  Not even close.

Yes, of course I see it now, but I don't feel a bit stupid for not seeing it initially.  Here's what Wiki has to say about the pronunciation:
The pronunciation varies widely in English: variations of the first syllable include /ˈdɑːks/, /ˈdæks/, /ˈdæʃ/, and of the second syllable /hʊnt/, /hʊnd/, /ənd/. In German it is pronounced [ˈdakshʊnt].
Now, I can't even decipher that, but I know one thing: if you have three ways of pronouncing the first syllable and three ways of pronouncing the second syllable, you do NOT have a uniform way of pronouncing the word nor the word you get phonetically by taking the Ds off.

Question left for the reader to ponder:  If someone had submitted the puzzle to Will, would he have been more critical of the phonetic element?

Here at Crossword Man, we're more amused than annoyed.  Wow!  What a week.  You guys set a Crossword Man record for the number of comments.  Thanks for keeping it jovial and appropriate.  Yeah, sure, someone reading all the comments would have worked out the answer, but the work involved is still more than if they'd pulled up a list of dogs and said them all out loud.

I discovered that the Wiki page for dachshunds has a list of places where wiener races are held. I typed the more interesting place names into Flickr and got the following:

Buda, Texas

Davis, California

Findlay, Ohio

Los Alamitos, California

Shakopee, Minnesota

Huntington, West Virginia

And if, like Crossword Man, you've no idea what a wiener race is, take a look at this clip:

Time for ...
P I C K   A   R A N G E
Here are this week's picks.  For a record number of comments, this is not a record number of picks.  NB to Natasha: Your pick was already gone, so I gave you the next open one counting up.
Fewer than 50
50 - 100
100 - 150
150 - 200
200 - 250
250 - 300
300 - 350 -- skydiveboy
350 - 400
400 - 450
450 - 500
500 - 550
550 - 600
600 - 650 -- Ross
650 - 700
700 - 750 -- Dave
750 - 800
800 - 850 -- woozy
850 - 900
900 - 950
950 - 1,000 -- Magdalen

1,000 - 1,050 -- David
1,050 - 1,100 -- Henry
1,100 - 1,150 -- Natasha
1,150 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,250
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400 -- Mendo Jim
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550
1,550 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,650
1,650 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,750
1,750 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,850
1,850 - 1,900
1,900 - 1,950
1,950 - 2,000

2,000 - 2,050
2,050 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,150
2,150 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,250
2,250 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,350
2,350 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,450
2,450 - 2,500

2,500 - 2,750
2,750 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,250
3,250 - 3,500
3,500 - 4,000
4,000 - 4,500
4,500 - 5,000

More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.
Our tie-break rule:  In the event that a single round number is announced, AND two separate people picked the ranges leading up to and leading up from that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose")


woozy said...

"kit" = "a group of domestic pigeons trained to perform together in competitions"

So Akita is another possible answer.

Were *I* to evaluate this puzzle I'd rule. 1) the phonetic nature of dachshund is too imprecise so the puzzle needs to be reworded as "Say the word without the pronouncing the first and last letter, and it will sound a little like naming some animals" and 2) The Akita answer is acceptable but obscure so I'd say "there is a second acceptable answer but in that answer the named animals is quite obscure so I don't expect many will get it".

Anonymous said...

Akita and pigeon were the answers I submitted last Sunday. I knew they weren't the intended answers, but since these words fit so perfectly with the clue, I decided to submit it anyway. I like what I presume is the intended answer--I have no ox to gore here--, but I think that the obscurity of an answer should not count against it when it fits the letter of the question.


Natasha said...

Thank you Magdalen. The list I looked at had no names on it.

Magdalen said...

Natasha -- I'm afraid we don't update that chart with everyone's picks as they get posted in the comments. We expect people to read through the comments to see what other people have picked already. But given that you'd have had to read literally dozens of comments, I spared you that chore.

Anonymous said...

With my accent, the O of "oxen" and the A of "dachshund" sound completely different. Actually taking the remaining *letters*, which is what we were told to do, not *syllables,* I could make the K-I-T of "akita" sound like "coyote" more easily. I rejected that because although "coyote" can be a plural, it is more usually the singular.

Henry BW

Mendo Jim said...

58 comments! This one struck some kind of chord.

The Akita answer probably should be accepted, but presents a different problem than Dachshund.
"Achshun" as spelled makes a poor "oxen." As spoken in some variants, it does OK.
"Kit" as written makes for pigeons; "keet," as spoken, probably not.

I thought woozy and Anonymous were talking about Sweet Betsy from Pike. In some of the iterations of that great ballad, she and Ike have two yoke of oxen as their motive power.
In all versions, they have a Shanghai Rooster; if any one knows what that is, please post it.

Someone sure caught Los Alamitos on a good day!

skydiveboy said...

Speaking of oxen yokes... An ox walks into a bar...

I did not read anything into the puzzle as it was stated to indicate that we had to conform our pronunciation to how the original word is pronounced, so I think Akita & Kit are acceptable. I looked at it, but did not know that kit had anything to do with pigeons. I am not fluent in Pigeon English.

"Achshun" to me most resembles auction. I believe I made a comment to this effect that had the word "bid" as a clue.

skydiveboy said...

Shanghai roosters were noted for being long-legged and scrawny.

woozy said...

It was amibiguous as to whether the the "remainder" be phonetically sounded as in the word or read anew are listed aloud. The only reason akita/kit should not be accepted would be relative obscurity of the term "kit" which makes it an acceptable anser but wer it the primary answer, I'd say the puzzle wasn't suitable for a general audience and crossed the line from being fun to irritating. (I'd never heard of "kit" *or* "akita" before.)

For pronounciation, the achsun/oxen is about as fuzzy as I've heard Will's puzzles get, but as I've heard "Beatrix" ~= "Beer Trix" and "gander" rhymes with "panda" being assumed to be acceptable, it's not as bad as that.

I've heard Coyote pronounced K(eye)(oat) and K(eye)(oat)(tee) but never K(ay)(eye)(tee). Still, Henry didn't say he pronounced it as K(ay)(eye)(tee); just that K(ay)(eye)(tee) is closer than "achshun" is to "oxen". (For me the latter makes me prickle but I recognize it but I'd never recognize K(ay)(eye)(tee).)