Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018, Alan Arbesfeld


I love this kind of theme, it's simple and effective. Noticing the strange parts of our language seems to be something that crossword constructors do well, and today Mr. Arbesfeld shows us six different combinations of letters that we use to make the same sound:

CYBERSPACE - from Greek, and most likely originally pronounced with a hard K sound.
SILENTNIGHT - from Latin, silere.
SAYONARA - from Japanese, literally: "If it is to be that way."
CITATION - from Latin, citare, and again, probably a hard(ish, at least) C originally.
SCIENCEFAIR - from Latin, scire, where it was more like "ski..."
PSYCHEDOUT - from Greek, psykhe, and I'm afraid I can't help you with that one.

How they all came to have the same pronunciation is not known to me. If our resident linguist, Frannie were doing the blog today, you might get a little lesson on the great vowel shift, or something similar, but it's me, so you're out of luck. I will say that I find it just a little odd that there's an SI right above SAYONARA that doesn't sound the same, but maybe that just helps to drive home the theme, right?


I like URBANMYTH (3D: Story debunked on Snopes.com), DOCENT (8D: Museum guide), and COYOTE (31D: Wild animal that yips), and SVELTE (9D: Gracefully thin) and ZILCH (12D: Nothing, informally) are fun words to see in the grid. On the "kickin' it old school" front, we have RIATA (25D: Cowboy's lasso), AERIE (47D: High home for a hawk), and ATRI (42D: Longfellow's bell town) - all words that I learned from doing crosswords. Sometimes they bother me, and sometimes I get kind of a warm feeling of nostalgia when I see old crosswordese. I think it kind of depends on how the rest of the puzzle is going. Today, the rest is right up my alley. Thumbs up!

- Horace


  1. 9:46
    It's rare that I'm really irked with crosswordese; I think that you're correct in that it depends heavily on the quality of the rest of the puzzle. At first I put in SInCITY (even though I knew people that played the SIMCITY game), but it didn't work with URBANMYTH, so it didn't last too long. TAZO is frequently imbibed around the YBH, so that went right in. Should ANKA count as crosswordese? I enjoyed the AREA clue today, and SNOOT's also.

  2. 3:48
    It's rare that a Tuesday is nearly a minute quicker than a Monday. I love this theme. I think the Y in "Psyched out" is an upsilon, so it would be pronounced "p'sookeh" in the original Greek. I wish LYRA had been clued with reference to Philip Pullman's excellent young adult series His Dark Materials.

  3. 24:42
    I liked ADIN. Didn't see the theme. Not the first time for that!

  4. For me ANKA is crosswordese, in the sense of being something I learned from crosswords and never see in other contexts. Not so PIP (although I suppose that could be different for someone of a different aga or background). In fact I was so taken with the clue for PIP that it is officially my favorite answer off today's crossword.

    1. Paul Anka and Gladys Knight are almost the same age!

    2. Yeah, but how many pips did Paul Anka have?

      (Oh, OK, Point taken, it evidently isn't just age. Just the randomness of what is or is not familiar).